English Oak too strong

English Oak blew away his rivals in the Buckingham Palace Handicap (1400m) at Royal Ascot on Thursday, becoming a second winner on the day for Wathnan Racing and jockey James Doyle.

Following Shareholder’s victory in the G2 Norfolk Stakes, the Ed Walker-trained English Oak, who was backed into 100/30 favourite, won by three lengths in a race dominated by runners who came up the stands’ side. Billyjoh finished second of the 26 runners, a length ahead of Carrytheone, with Mostabshir fourth.

English Oak, who holds an entry in next month’s G1 July Cup, was formerly owned by David Ward before being sold to Wathnan Racing ahead of Royal Ascot.

Walker said: “We’ve believed in him for a long time. Last year he just didn’t get things right in his races for some reason – he wasn’t quite behaving, he was a bit keen and got a bit upset in the stalls. Fair play to everyone at home, they’ve all done such a good job. 

“And a big thank you to David and Sue Ward, who owned him up until a few weeks ago – they’ve been huge supporters of the yard. They had Starman and have done wonders for my career. Richard Brown and I go back a long way. When he asked if I could recommend this horse, you shoot from the hip, I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I’m just glad it paid off.

“It was a very tough decision [to sell English Oak] for David and Sue; they love their horses, they really do. I think it will be bittersweet for them. But they are big into their breeding now, they’ve got Starman to support, and an increasing and improving broodmare band they want to support with better stallions, and getting some money in, that always helps.

“I’ve been banging on since he crossed the line just behind Rohaan here last autumn. We were targeting this race or the Wokingham. It’s been a long plan – a change of silks, but it’s great.”

Doyle said: “It's not too often you hit the half a furlong marker and you look to see if anything is coming in a race like this.

"English Oak is clearly a classy sort. He travelled superbly through the race. We had a massive advantage on the stands' side – even after going a furlong or so we were a long way ahead of the others."

When asked if this was a potential July Cup horse, Doyle added: “He's very speedy. He's got a high cruising speed, he does feel pretty fast. When I let him go there, he quickened up pretty smartly. It will be interesting to see what the guys want to do."

6.15pm Buckingham Palace Handicap
1 English Oak (Wathnan Racing) Ed Walker 4-9-08 James Doyle 10/3F
2 Billyjoh (Cleartherm Glass Sealed Units Ltd) Mich Appleby 4-9-02 Hollie Doyle 28/1
3 Carrytheone (Stuart Mizon) Michael Bell 7-9-10 Pat Dobbs 25/1
4 Mostabshir (Shadwell Estate Company Ltd)
26 ran 

Ed Walker – 3rd Royal Ascot winner
James Doyle – 21st Royal Ascot winner

English Oak and James Doyle, picture Liesl king