French raider Watch Me was a surprise winner of the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Much of the pre-race focus was on Aidan O’Brien’s Hermosa, who was the even-money favourite to add to her back-to-back Classic wins in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.
The market leader appeared well positioned for much of the one-mile contest – tracking the pacesetting Pretty Pollyanna – but it was clear early in the straight it would not be plain sailing and, in the end, she came up short.
Having finished sixth behind the reopposing Castle Lady in the French 1000 Guineas on her latest appearance, Watch Me was a 20-1 chance in the hands of Pierre-Charles Boudot, but rounded the final turn travelling ominously well.
Once given her head, the daughter of Olympic Glory readily picked up the leaders and kicked clear for a one-and-a-half-length success.
Hermosa stuck to her task to finish second, with Jubiloso losing her unbeaten record but running with credit in third.
Watch Me was providing trainer Francis-Henri Graffard with his second Group One victory in the space of a week, having landed last weekend’s Prix de Diane at Chantilly with Channel.
Graffard said: “Obviously we were 20-1. It’s good for me with the owner – he said go and enjoy yourself. There is no pressure. We are an outsider. If we are third that’s a fantastic result, but like last Sunday I was behind my binoculars looking at the trip she had.
“She travelled really nicely and quickened very nicely to win well.
“I’ll have to watch the race again, but she took the lead quite early and never stopped.”
He added on future plans: “I don’t know what we’ll do with her. I didn’t enter her in the Falmouth. We had to see how she did today. She has the Rothschild in the summer. We’ll see how she comes out of the race.”
Boudot said: “The race went perfect. The pace was normal and we had a perfect place behind Hermosa. When I asked her after the turn she gave me a very nice turn of foot and she did it very easy.
“She had been a bit unlucky in the Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas), but today she is the best.
“I’ve had a fantastic week. Winning the Prix Diane and the first Group One at Royal Ascot is very important for a jockey, and for everybody who worked for this winner.”
O’Brien said of Hermosa: “She ran very well. Ryan (Moore) said she ran very well and he was very happy with the run. He didn’t say anything else. We are not using any excuses.
“We will get her back home and see how she is and make a decision in the next week to 10 days. Her sister got a mile and a half, but you are never confident (they will get further), always hopeful.”
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Khalid Abdullah, owner of the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Jubiloso, said: “She ran really well. She probably just lacked a little bit of experience, but you have to be very pleased with that.
“Hopefully she can build on that and turn into the filly we thought she would be. They (rivals) were well seasoned and we know that. It was not the result we were looking for, but we will certainly have a lot worse days than being third in a Group One.
“She will have learnt a great deal from that. I would think a mile is probably her trip and it looks that way. She galloped to the line and took a while to pull up, so I think she stayed all right. She is in the Falmouth and you would have to consider it.”