A'Ali Captures Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and Gains Free Berth into Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint
ASCOT, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND (June 20, 2019) – A’Ali (IRE) turned traditional practice on its head when he became the first maiden in 29 years to win the Norfolk Stakes (G2), striking for the once-formidable alliance of Simon Crisford and Frankie Dettori and earning a guaranteed start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of 86 stakes races, whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held at Santa Anita Park, in Arcadia, California, Nov 1-2.
As part of the benefits of the Challenge series, the Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for A’Ali to start in the $1 million Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2). Breeders’ Cup will also provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.
Despite a dry start to the third day of the meeting Maven, the sole US challenger in the field, was taken out of the race by trainer Wesley Ward due to the soft going after 10mm of rain fell on Wednesday.
He may have met a classy opponent in A’Ali, a son of Society Rock (IRE) out of Motion Lass (GB), who is owned by Shaikh Duaij Al Khalifa, a member of the ruling family of Bahrain.
Despite being beaten a neck in a novice race at Ripon 15 days earlier, A’Ali was sent off 5-1 second favorite. He was settled midfield before moving forward to take the lead off favored Sunday Sovereign (GB) over a furlong out and was pushed out to hold off Ventura Rebel GB), conqueror of Ward’s filly Lady Pauline at a previous Ascot meeting. The winning distance was a neck and the race run in a time of 1:01.90. There was a 2 ¾-length gap to Dubai Station (GB) in third.
The last winner of the Norfolk Stakes to land the race as a maiden was Line Engaged, ridden by Steve Cauthen, in 1990.
Crisford was celebrating his second Royal Ascot win as a trainer and his first with Dettori, with whom he enjoyed multiple successes at the meeting during their time with Godolphin - Crisford as racing manager and Dettori as first jockey.
“It’s extra special,” said Crisford. “I used to think having Royal Ascot winners was like picking apples off a tree but since I’ve been a standalone trainer it hasn’t been quite as simple as that. It counts for everything.
“Frankie is the go-to jockey when you really need somebody. He was available and gave the horse a super ride.”
Dettori said: “A’Ali travelled like the winner all the way. He made my life really easy. On that fella the ground felt like the slow side of good, but it probably rides good to soft.
“I spent a good part of nearly 30 years working with Simon. We’ve both gone our separate ways. He started training. It brings back some great memories and I am really delighted. Simon has been great for me throughout my career.”
A’Ali was a first Royal Ascot runner for Shaikh Duaij, whose uncle Essa Al Khalifa was a prominent owner in the 1970s enjoying big race successes with horses like miler Jellaby and the sprinter Ahonoora.
“He’s always been a huge enthusiast,” said Crisford. “We’ve always known A’Ali was a very good horse and that’s why we ran him in a Group 2 race having been beaten in a maiden.
In his debut, A Ali, finished second by a neck as the 5-4 favorite in a five-furlong Novice Stakes at Ripon on June 5.
“He’s a top notcher and all the guys that do figures and analyze these races with sectional times were screaming from the rooftops about this horse after he ran at Ripon.”
Of a possible Breeders’ Cup challenge, he said: “I think the doors are open for everything. He will be campaigned very much as a two-year-old. He’s small, he’s neat, he’s quick.”
A’Ali becomes the first horse to win an automatic berth into the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.
About Breeders’ Cup
The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships. The Breeders’ Cup also administers the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The 2019 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 Graded Stakes with purses and awards totaling more than $30 million, will be held on November 1-2 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., and will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup website, www.breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
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