Billesdon Brook springs 66-1 shock to win 1,000 Guineas
After six weeks of major races, jump and Flat, being dominated by the same top yards and owners, racing finally found the antidote on Sunday when Billesdon Brook, a 66-1 shot owned by 23 “old racing faces” and ridden by Sean Levey, landed the Qipco 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket.
She may have been the longest-priced winner of the 1,000 Guineas ever, but there appeared to be no fluke about the victory of Richard Hannon’s filly as she galloped 1¾ lengths clear of the front-running Laurens for a convincing victory, with the favourite Happily a further ½ length back in third.
Like the Hannons’ other recent Guineas winners, Night Of Thunder and Sky Lantern, Billesdon Brook, who won the Daily Telegraph Nursery at Goodwood as a juvenile, was beaten in her trial. The 5½ lengths she had to make up with Soliloquy from the Nell Gwyn looked a tall order.
However, Levey, who was born in Swaziland to an Irish father and Swazi mother, brought up in Rosegreen [Ballydoyle] and started out as a jockey for Aidan O’Brien, for whom his mother is still housekeeper, went out for his first ride in the race in a positive frame of mind.
“She ran gassy in the Nell Gwyn,” he said. “I thought she’d improve and that if everything fell into place for her she would be in the first four. But I was so happy at halfway and was counting down the horses I had left to pass at the two-furlong marker. I just hoped she would keep running, but she sailed all the way to the line.
Levey, 30, added: “I think the Group One tempo made all the difference. When she ran at Doncaster last year against good fillies she was found wanting, but she’s done well over the winter and is a lot stronger. I’ve been working for a long time to get to this moment and I’m glad it’s come.”
Hannon, who thought Anna Nerium was the pick of his three runners, admitted he was surprised. “But there was nothing flukey about it,” he said. “All our Guineas winners of the last few years got beat in their trials. She’s done no work since. It’s so nice – she’s owned by a big syndicate of senior people who have been in the game a long time, who’ve worked hard, and they’ll enjoy this.
“It’s huge for Sean, too – he was already on the map. In this game you’re judged not by winners, but by the good ones and Classic winners, so we’ll all sleep well tonight.” Her owners, Pall Mall Partners, are nothing if not lucky. The syndicate was put together by her breeder Bob McCreery, the late amateur rider, in 2013 to lease horses bred by his stud, Stowell Hill. From 62 runners since its formation this was Pall Mall’s 16th winner – and a Classic winner to boot.