Photo: Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)
Firing on every cylinder and providing the crowds with a performance worthy of a champion; Olympic Glory claimed his second career Group I victory in powerful fashion by breezing to victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on British Champions Day.
The winner of last season's Group I Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe undercard, Olympic Glory had struggled throughout the early part of this season and had looked to be a shadow of the horse that provided us with some exceptional and memorable performances last season as a juvenile.
However, a return to Ascot, some sixteen months after the colt burst onto the scene with a fine second placed finish in the GII Coventry Stakes at the same track, seemed to revitalise the three year old son of Choisir in allowing the colt to be seen at his very best against a field of exceptional milers entering the race with victories in fifteen GI contests between them.
Patience, patience and more patience. There are often times that a thoroughbred can frustrate with the world at their feet, struggling to show the potential that his/her trainer believed they were capable of. Whilst the potential of Olympic Glory has always been there, there can be no doubting that the three year old son of Choisir has required a great deal of patience from his trainer since disappointing in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains in May. At Ascot, Richard Hannon's patience was rewarded in emphatic style.
The return of Olympic Glory in the Prix Jacques le Marois was a performance of exceptional magnitude, bouncing back for an agonising second place finish behind Moonlight Cloud in the Group I contest off of a three month lay off. A defeat at the hands of Maxios next time out, in a race where the majority of the field seemed to ignore the front running tactics of the winner, was creditible with the three year old the only rival seemingly able to challenge out of the pack in the final few furlongs.
With the blinkers on in a bid to focus Olympic Glory's sometimes lazy nature, confidence was high that the colt could account for his rivals in this straight-mile contest and the colt did not disappoint.
Settled in the middle of the pack for the majority of the race, Olympic Glory began to weave a passage as the runners hit the two furlong marker, propelling himself past his rivals with the utmost ease and take the race fully into his control with a minimum of fuss. By the time that Top Notch Tonto, supplemented into the race for a fee of £70,000, had exited from the chasing pack, the race was over. Kingsbarns would finish a gallant third on his second run of the season.
Jockey Richard Hughes was open in the morning's papers that he judges an exceptional miler on the ability to quicken from the two furlong marker. Despite concerns that the ground conditions that an October Champions Day provides would blunt any chance of a miler showing that kind of speed, Hughes will surely have been delighted at being proved wrong as his mount accelerated in superb style towards victory.
"In these Group One races you don't get an inch, and if you're travelling you get done, rather than the other way around," said Hughes. "He travelled really well from two out and was always going to win. When you're clear in a Group One you don't look around - you keep on going. It's great having one miler for the firm [Toronado] and one for the soft."
Richard Hannon has harboured an embarassment of Classic division riches this season. Olympic Glory, Toronado and Sky Lantern form just a tiny part of a strong team which has propelled Hannon within touching distance of the Champion Trainer title this year. However, what is increasingly positive for the Wiltshire based trainer, his yard, and British racing as a whole, is that he has received the backing of all of his majority owners to keep their succesful stars in training for yet another season.
Whether that will be under the care of Hannon or his son, however, is still unconfirmed. As Richard Hannon Sr. strode towards the presentation stand to collect the trainer's prize for Olympic Glory's victory, Hannon Jr. could be heard jokingly propelling the words 'Enjoy it while it lasts - there wont be many more of these' towards his father's ears.
Indeed, Hannon Jr. is looking increasingly likely to be confirmed as the holder of the trainer's licence for next season and beyond, but his father will still be a fundamental part of the organisation no matter who holds the licence for the forthcoming 2014 season.
Photos Courtesy of Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)