Emotions run high as Shepherd breaks Royal Ascot duck

Oisin Murphy rode Khaadem to victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes but it was his less celebrated rival Callum Shepherd who stole the show (JUSTIN TALLIS)
Oisin Murphy rode Khaadem to victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes but it was his less celebrated rival Callum Shepherd who stole the show (JUSTIN TALLIS)

A tearful Callum Shepherd put behind him the upset of being taken off eventual Epsom Derby runner-up Ambiente Friendly by winning the Hardwicke Stakes with Isle of Jura on the final day of Royal Ascot on Saturday.

The 26-year-old English jockey showed how much it meant to him standing up in the saddle as he passed the line waving his whip and yelling at the stands.

The Bahrain-owned Isle of Jura was his first ever winner at the meeting on his 66th attempt.

Unlike Shepherd, Royal Ascot winners have become a habit for his rivals James Doyle, Oisin Murphy and Ryan Moore.

All three of them have enjoyed successful weeks and they had a winner apiece on the final day, Moore's was his sixth as it was for trainer Aidan O'Brien.

However, nothing rivalled the emotion after Isle of Jura put more stellar names -- including last year's St Leger winner Continuous and King Charles III's Desert Hero -- to the sword.

He had carried all before him in Bahrain winning four of his five races but this victory put him up amongst the biggest names in European racing.

Shepherd had been controversially taken off Ambiente Friendly by the horse's owners prior to the Derby earlier this month and replaced by journeyman Rab Havlin.

"All the emotions have come to the surface," said a tearful Shepherd.

"I cannot really compose myself, this is such a special horse.

"He has never let us down.

"It just feels really special, it is amazing after a really testing time.

"Six weeks ago I thought I'd found my diamond (Ambiente Friendly) and that wasn't to be, but Isle Of Jura has certainly blossomed into one."

Trainer George Scott also was breaking his Royal Ascot duck, finally able to enter the hallowed winners enclosure after 41 prior losers.

"We are blessed to have him (Isle of Jura)," said Scott, who had persuaded Sheikh Nasser bin Hamid al Khalifa to part with 150,000 to purchase him.

"Callum and I have been friends for a long time and it has been well documented he was taken off the Derby ride.

"We took him to Lingfield on Derby day to take the heat off him that day.

"He is a top-class rider. For us as a youngish stable this is enormous.

"My children Jemima, Oscar and Eliza will have been watching it on television, so this is a special special day.

"No fluke about it."

- 'Absolute warrior' -

Murphy took the honours in the only Group One contest of the day the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes, guiding home Khaadem for back-to-back successes in the race.

"What an amazing horse," said Murphy.

"I think he's eight years of age, back-to-back wins in the race, incredible training performance by Charlie Hills."

Murphy was denied a double in the Jersey Stakes by Doyle, a thrilling finish resulted in Haatem deservedly getting a win after being placed in both the English and Irish 2000 Guineas.

"He's an absolute warrior," said Doyle.

"It wasn't his ideal set-up today, but we've come up with a plan and it worked. If he had got beat, he would have been robbed because he responded well.

"What a horse."

Moore and O'Brien's wonderful week saw them collect a sixth prize, Bedtime Story destroying his 14 rivals as she surged clear to win by nine-and-a-half lengths.

So impressed were the bookmakers they made her 3/1 favourite for next year's English 1000 Guineas.

She, though, could face stiff competition from her stablemate Fairy Godmother, who won the better-quality Albany Stakes on Friday.

Moore, 40, is not one for eulogising about horses but he was suitably impressed by Bedtime Story.

"She is a level above all of them," he said.

"A performance like that, you don't see normally."