Rosallion on song in St James’s Palace Stakes

Rosallion lived up to all of Richard Hannon’s billing as the best horse he has ever trained by winning the St James’s Palace Stakes of day one of Royal Ascot.

Hannon has not been shy in making it known how highly he regards his colt, although he could have been forgiven if his confidence had been slightly dented when he was beaten by Notable Speech at Newmarket.

In accounting for stablemate Haatem in the Irish Guineas he as expected got back on track, and duly lined up against a very deep field in the day one highlight at Royal Ascot.

Aidan O’Brien’s Breeders’ Cup winner Unquestionable set the pace, with fellow Ballydoyle runner Henry Longfellow just in behind, while William Buick dropped Notable Speech out in the rear.

Rosallion (5/2) was briefly trapped in behind horses as Darlinghurst was on his outside, but Sean Levey waited for the right time to press the button and once in the clear he showed an electrifying turn of foot to chase Ryan Moore and Henry Longfellow down.

Henry Longfellow stuck on well for second and was only beaten a neck, with three lengths back to French Guineas winner Metropolitan. But the big disappointment of the race was the 6/4 favourite Notable Speech, who never really threatened to get in a serious blow.

Hannon said: “He was special before today. It’s not about today, unfortunately we lost in the Guineas, but he has always been brilliant – physically, mentally. He got a bit upset beforehand today. I couldn’t believe he got beaten in the Guineas the way he was travelling. He won the Irish Guineas very well. He’s a complete package. He’s as good as I’ve ever seen in our place.

“Quite often you call these horses something that they’re not, because you want them to be the best horse you’ve trained – and quite often you are disappointed. That’s an occupational hazard. But this lad has never let me down. That one day at Doncaster (Champagne Stakes)… I still can’t explain it. I don’t know how we messed it up, but that’s behind us now.

“He’s in the Sussex (at Goodwood), he’s in all those big races, and I can’t wait. He’s already done enough for me if he never does another… It’s not about being proven right either, it’s about the work that goes into these horses from everybody at home. We’ve been watching him all winter, this kind of makes it a shorter winter.”

Levey added: “I think once I had him out in the open I always thought I would pick the leader up. This horse really has to have something to aim at, I think he showed that at the Curragh. As soon as I got him out, there was always going to be plenty in the tank.

“I just really hope that one day they go a really good gallop so that we get to see him really show his true potential.

“It means the world to me, and everyone at home, there is a lot of work that goes into this horse.

“I always said I always had great belief in the horse. I always hoped he would be that horse I’ve been waiting for all my career. People say to me you remember the horse along with who rode it.”

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