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)
- Coeur De Lion [drawn 9] Alan King 7-8-11 Thore Hammer Hansen (5) 16/1
- Verdana Blue  Nicky Henderson 8-9-10 Ryan Moore 4/1 Fav
- Summer Moon  Mark Johnston 4-9-09 Joe Fanning 11/2
- 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
Karen can usually be found glued to her computer or at the stables. Having edited several national magazines she co-founded Eclipse Magazine in 2008 after realising that many of her friends were nervous about going racing due to lack of information – what to wear, how to bet etc.
She absolutely loves her job (how many people can say that?!) and is truly grateful to all supporters of and contributors to Eclipse Magazine.
If you are reading this she would like to say THANK YOU! (And please spread the word about Eclipse…!!)