Calandagan dominates for France at Royal Ascot

Calandagan dominated the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes (2400m) on Friday, becoming the first French-trained winner at Royal Ascot since Watch Me in the 2019 Coronation Stakes.

Like Watch Me, Calandagan was sent over by Francis-Henri Graffard, who trains the son of Gleneagles for his owner/breeder HH The Aga Khan. 

With an outside draw in 13, Stephane Pasquier rode a quiet race on Calandagan. The partnership came wide in the straight and powered away to win by six lengths, with Space Legend and Royal Supremacy filling the places.

Calandagan was gelded after two runs as a juvenile and came into Friday’s race on the back of two G3 victories at Longchamp.

Calandagan dominates the King Edward VII Stakes, picture Liesl King

Graffard said: “I am very impressed. I was so down after my filly [Rouhiya finished last in the Coronation Stakes] earlier, but this horse did it very easily. My wife was cheering beside me – we enjoyed the moment.

“With the draw, we found ourselves a little bit at the back, but we decided to ride him for himself. He’s not used to a big field like that, but he is very straightforward. It is just unbelievable how he quickened all the way. 

“I am so happy for the whole family. We had a tough week with Dolayli and Rouhiya, so it’s good to finish on a nice winner like him.”

On the decision to geld the winner, he said: “The first time out at Deauville, he was very difficult – difficult to load, and didn’t want to try much, so we had no choice.”

Stephane Pasquier said: “Calandagan is a fantastic horse. It was a bit complicated in the first part. He needed to be nice from the gate, nice during the race, and today he was perfect. The pace was fast enough to come from behind.

“Everything was easy. He can be a naughty boy sometimes, and we have to ask him gently. Today he wanted to do everything – when he is like this, he is a fantastic horse. I didn’t do anything, I just asked him to do it by himself.

"I am just disappointed that he's lost his balls! I think he will travel around the world now, hopefully for lots of money."

Princess Zahra Aga Khan said: “Calandagan did it very, very well. He has shown himself to be improving over the last few months, but today he surprised all of us and he has shown himself to be a very good horse. 

“They are all home-bred. It is not one of our oldest families, but to see this family do well again… it’s a very consistent family and they tend to be a mile-and-a-half horses, but I think he has a turn of foot that is wonderful to see.”

Calandagan, picture Liesl King

James Doyle said of Space Legend: “I am really pleased. The winner’s pretty special, isn’t he? He quickened up well, but my fellow kept galloping so he’ll stay. In time he’ll get a bit further as well.”

Royal Supremacy’s rider Oisin Murphy said: “Career-best from him and it was worth supplementing him. I am very happy. There was a good speed on; I followed James Doyle, who was second.”

5.40pm King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2)
1 Calandagan (H H Aga Khan) Francis-Henri Graffard 3-9-02 Stephane Pasquier 11/2
2 Space Legend (Wathnan Racing) William Haggas 3-9-02 James Doyle 9/2
3 Royal Supremacy (Michael Blencowe) Andrew Balding 3-9-02 Oisin Murphy 40/1

14 ran  

Francis-Henri Graffard – 2nd Royal Ascot winner
Stephane Pasquier – 2nd Royal Ascot winner