Karl Burke’s Dandalla produced a dazzling display to turn the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot into a procession.
Ben Curtis, who was the leading jockey on the all-weather through the winter and has been in red-hot form since the resumption of racing, always looked to have matters under control.
Racing on the near-side of the group, the Newcastle winner travelled smoothly into contention as Roger Varian’s Undertake moved to take up the running from Wesley Ward’s Flying Aletha.
Sent off at 13-2 following heavy market support before the race, Dandalla looked a cut above as she moved alongside and in a matter of strides she put the race to bed, streaking clear to win decisively.
Setarhe, the Varian-trained 11-4 favourite following a late gamble, ran the first half of the race on the far side of runners and was one of the first off the bridle before Andrea Atzeni switched flanks. She ran on to claim second, pipping Mother Earth, but was six lengths adrift.
Bookmakers were undecided about the winner’s claims for next year’s 1000 Guineas, with quotes ranging from 16-1 to 25s.
Burke said: “She’s more precocious than Laurens – Laurens hadn’t even stepped foot on the track by June of her two-year-old career. Laurens had a high cruising speed, but this filly has a great turn of foot and how far she stays now is going to be the key.
“We knew she had a real engine and knew we’d been underrated a little bit coming here today. It’s obviously very difficult to evaluate the form when horses are coming here after only one run, but she’s always shown plenty of toe.
“My daughter Lucy rides her 90 per cent of the time and she actually came in one day a good few months ago now and said ‘I hate to say it, but this filly really reminds me of Laurens’. The turn of foot she showed today, I’ve seen that many times on the gallops.
“We had to persuade Nick Bradley to buy 50 per cent of her earlier in the year (trainer’s wife Elaine retains a share). My other daughter Kelly did the deal with him and assured him she was a good one.”
On future plans, he added: “It was always the plan to run at Newcastle and then here. I’ll have to sit down with Nick and get the programme book out.
“Races like the Prix Morny wouldn’t be out of the question – we’ll certainly be looking at Group One races anyway.”
Curtis said: “Karl’s daughter, Lucy, rides her every day and I remember her coming down from the gallop and mentioning her in the same sentence as Laurens. When she said that, it give me all the hope in the world.
“She went to the racetrack the first day and did what she did and we knew she’d improve a ton. Everything went perfect today and she’s demolished them.
“It’s a surreal feeling. I knew when we accelerated that nothing would be able to pick up the way I did. I knew in the last furlong we were out on our own – it was a great performance.”
He added: “Having a Royal Ascot winner is on every jockey’s to-do list. I’ve been coming down here for a while now without really getting involved, to finally have a winner is an unbelievable feeling – crowd or no crowd.
“I’m in racing to ride winners and ride big winners. I’ve had two Group Three winners (this season) and now a Royal Ascot winner – I’m going to go in and pinch myself in a second.”
Varian said: “Setarhe is a lovely filly. She struggled to get her feet out of that ground and by the time she did the race had developed away from her. She came home strongly and she will stay seven furlongs. I think she has got a big future.
“Undertake (fourth) did nothing wrong. She is a very straightforward and looks up to winning some black type during the summer.”