First Royal Ascot success for Thore Hammer Hansen
Day one of Royal Ascot came to a close with success for 16/1 shot Coeur De Lion in the Ascot Stakes, a handicap over two and a half miles. It was a second Royal Ascot success for trainer Alan King and a first for jockey Thore Hammer Hansen, a 5lb apprentice.
A sustained tussle inside the final furlong saw Coeur De Lion come out on top by a length from top-weight and 4/1 favourite Verdana Blue (Nicky Henderson/Ryan Moore).
Thore Hammer Hansen, 20, said: “It is unbelievable to come here as a 5lb claimer and ride a Royal Ascot winner. Obviously, it is really sad that there aren’t any crowds around, but you still get an unbelievable buzz out of it.
“There are so many G1-winning jockeys out there that haven’t ridden a Royal Ascot winner yet, so it’s just unbelievable. I won on him last year at Chester and he took me to some very big places and some very big meetings, including here.
“He finished fifth here last year, and I rang Alan King up last week, just to come in and ride out, as I saw I had got put on him again. I worked him in visors and obviously they helped, so we were quite confident that he was going to run a big race. But that he was going to go out and win – I think that was only dreamed.
“My Dad has ridden a G1 winner and multiple Listed and other Group winners as well, but he hasn’t ridden a Royal Ascot winner, so that’s something I can wind him up with, anyway.”
Nicky Henderson said of runner-up Verdana Blue: “Verdana Blue has run a great race. Without the rain I thought she would have won but we just didn’t manage to get away it.
“We will look at the Flat programme and see where to go. I am not sure about the Northumberland Plate on the All-Weather so the Ebor could be next.”
4.40pm Ascot Stakes (Handicap)
1 Coeur De Lion [drawn 9] Alan King 7-8-11 Thore Hammer Hansen (5) 16/1
2 Verdana Blue  Nicky Henderson 8-9-10 Ryan Moore 4/1 Fav
3 Summer Moon  Mark Johnston 4-9-09 Joe Fanning 11/2
4 Smart Champion  David Simcock 5-8-11 Callum Shepherd 22/1
Winner owned by The Barbury Boys
2nd Royal Ascot win for trainer Alan King
1st Royal Ascot win for jockey Thore Hammer Hansen
Non-Runner: 15 Charlie D (Going)
Time: 4m 27.51s
Distances: 1, nk, nk
Tote Win: £24.25 Places: £6.45, £2.00, £2.55 Exacta: £182.70