Accidental Agent shocks big guns in Queen Anne Stakes

First Group One winner for trainer Eve Johnson Houghton

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Accidental Agent was a shock winner of the Queen Anne Stakes, the first race of Royal Ascot 2018.

Trained by Eve Johnson Houghton, the four-year-old was a largely unconsidered 33-1 shot for the Group One contest over the straight mile, having finished sixth behind the reopposing Rhododendron in last month’s Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

With Deauville setting the fractions in front, Charles Bishop took his time aboard Accidental Agent, settling him at the very rear of the field before making his move inside the final three furlongs.

As Rhododendron weakened out of contention, Lockinge runner-up Lightning Spear looked to have every chance of going one better as the post loomed, but he was caught late on by both 20-1 shot Lord Glitters and Accidental Agent.

Like Rhododendron, the well-backed 11-4 favourite Benbatl was disappointing.

An emotional Johnson Houghton – bagging her first ever Group One success – admitted she had been hoping for a place at best.

She said: “I thought I was tilting at windmills and I dreamt about being third. I thought ‘my god, I’m going to be placed’ – there was an awful lot of screaming going on.

“It’s just ridiculous. I have all my cousins and brothers and my mum here – I don’t think she’s ever going to get over it.”

She added: “She was bred by my mum. My mum is the little woman in a flood of tears. What a legend she is. I am so proud of her and I had a little bit on at 50-1 to pay for the party.

“I just can’t believe it. I felt sorry for those around us during the race. They must be deaf now! You might have to man the lifeboats as there will be floods of tears.

“We couldn’t sell him so we bought him back for 8,000 guineas. I haven’t really slept for two days.

“A Group One winner. I’ve never trained a Group winner or a Royal Ascot winner.”

Gaie Johnson Houghton, the owner-breeder, said: “She had got him as well as he’d ever been. It’s the first time she’s got him to the races with a clear run this year. He’s had a few hiccups.

“It’s what dreams are made of.”

Bishop said: “I’m struggling at the moment. Coming into the week I thought if I got a couple in the frame I’d be delighted.

“In the final furlong I thought I’d be third, then once he got into top gear he just motored and was going away at the line.

“He ran well in the Lockinge and deserved to come here and take his chance.

“For him to go and win is just unbelievable.”

David O’Meara was thrilled with the half-length second, Lord Glitters.

He said: “We are delighted with that and obviously he has got a huge engine in him. He might have preferred a stronger gallop, but many other horses in the race might have been the same. I’m absolutely delighted with him.

“He was the lowest-rated horse in the race and we had the choice of this or the Royal Hunt Cup. He has run well.

“He does really like it here. He has had three visits and has been second, first and second.”

David Simcock was satisfied with Lightning Spear, who was another neck away in third, but felt the track was perhaps against his charge.

He said: “He seems to struggle up the hill here. He has done it a couple of times in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and in this two years ago. He has not sustained his run. He hit the front a long way from home.

“I’m very proud of him at his age and he has run well.

“The other two horses have come from well off the pace. He will go to the Sussex and I would very much think he will go to the Foret as well.”

Accidental Agent shocks big guns in Queen Anne Stakes
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