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 [5] Nicky Henderson 8-9-10 Ryan Moore 4/1 Fav

3 Summer Moon [14] Mark Johnston 4-9-09 Joe Fanning 11/2

4 Smart Champion [3] 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

19 ran

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