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Loughnane hits another Ascot high as Soprano comes out top in Sandringham

Loughnane hits another Ascot high as Soprano comes out top in Sandringham
Loughnane hits another Ascot high as Soprano comes out top in Sandringham

Billy Loughnane struck for the second time during Royal Ascot, as Soprano hit the right note in the Sandringham Stakes.

Winner of the Coventry Stakes on the opening day of the meeting, the 18-year-old was wearing the blue silks of Highclere Thoroughbreds aboard George Boughey’s three-year-old, who was good enough to place in group company as a two-year-old.

Third in the Albany at this meeting 12 months ago, she was racing in a handicap for the first time in this one-mile event and was sent off at 14-1.

With the action favouring those racing on the stands side of the track, the daughter of Starspangledbanner burst out of the pack to hunt down Rachel King aboard John and Thady Gosden’s Strutting deep inside the final furlong to win by half a length.

Loughnane said: “I had to bide my time, and she finished off very well. Her form was very strong from a two-year-old and this is her first step back in a handicap – she’d been running in stakes company – and first try over the mile as well.

George Boughey greets Billy Loughnane
George Boughey greets Billy Loughnane (John Walton/PA)

“She hit the line well. She’s a filly with a lot of ability and, if I’m honest, she probably would have been a lot closer at Musselburgh. She was a bit slow through the gates on a front-running course. I was too far behind and I didn’t give her the greatest of rides. I’m delighted to be able to repay the owners and thank them very much for keeping faith.

“It means a lot to ride a winner for George. I had my first winner for him a year ago last week and we’ve had plenty more since. Without George, I’m not sure I would have kept the momentum up after losing my claim. He’s been massive for me and I’ve got a lot to thank him for.

“This is a dream come true and the week keeps getting better and better. When you get the feeling, you always want to have it again.”

Boughey said: “Unlucky wouldn’t quite quantify it. Huge credit has to go to Harry (Herbert, Highclere racing manager), we had a long phone conversation in the office the other morning, I wanted to go to Carlisle and he wanted to go to Ascot!

“She’s been a filly we’ve always held in really high regard, leaving Epsom (on Derby day) I said ‘we’ve got to go to the Sandringham, we’ve got to try the mile’ because she hit the line so strong at Musselburgh.

“She’s been difficult, she’s been a bit keen and a bit numb. Billy did a great job settling her but she’s taken a while to relax at home. I was thinking I was saddling her there, she was mauling me as a two-year-old but she stood quiet as a lamb and she’s come of age, just like her jockey.”

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