Posted on June 22, 2017

Al Shaqab Racing’s Qemah won the Group Two Duke of Cambridge Stakes to record her second win in as many visits, having won the Group One Coronation Stakes last year.

Jean Claude Rouget’s smart filly was very relaxed and waited amongst the group of horses that cantered along the inside rail. Once she got an opening, the filly took the advantage 200m from the post. She then resisted the attacks from Aljazzi on her outside, and Smart Call and Usherette on the inside and held on well to succeed by three quarters of a length. Aljazzi was runner-up ahead of Usherette, who finished very well after not finding an opening.

Qemah’s jockey, Frenchman Gregory Benoist, said, “She won nicely here last year. Last time at Lingfield, she wasn’t very exciting but today the fast ground, the pace of the race helped her, and she was in a good day. She was ready for this race and we are very happy to have won twice at Royal Ascot. Last time it was soft ground here, but she’s raced on good ground in France, she can go anywhere.” Trainer Rouget too was elated. “The lad at home, Jerome, had been doing strong work with her every day and he had been very happy that it was not the same filly that ran at Lingfield; there had been a big change. I hope now she’s in a good place for the rest of the season. After that we’ll go to Deauville for the Prix Rothschild.” Qemah had won the Prix Rothschild (Gr1) in last year. In the Prince of Wales’ Stakes, Highland Reel delivered Irish training great Aiden O’Brien his 300th Group One winner over flat and jumps.

Al Shaqab’s Qemah wins 2 [].jpg

Highland Reel, winning his second Group One race inside a month, also brought relief to the 47-year-old trainer after his hotly-fancied Churchill had failed to fire and finished only fourth in Tuesday’s feature, the St James’s Palace Stakes. O’Brien hailed Highland Reel as ‘unbelievably courageous’. “If it comes anywhere near courage, then he will be there fighting,” said O’Brien. “He has danced every dance. I’m not sure we have ever had a horse with the constitution he has.” O’Brien was typically humble about his own landmark of 300 Group and Grade One wins. “I’m just a small part in a massive team,” he said. “It’s a huge chain of people involved and I feel privileged to be part of it.”