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Sky Lantern ends barren week for Hughes at Ascot

June 21, 2013

ASCOT, England (AP) — Sky Lantern followed up her victory in the 1,000 Guineas by winning the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot on Friday, ending champion jockey Richard Hughes’ barren run at the prestigious meeting this week.

Hughes appeared close to tears after producing a superb ride on the 9-2 joint favorite, who came from the back of the 17-horse field and stalked main rival Just The Judge before bursting clear to win the day’s big race by about four lengths.

“What a relief, what a relief — everything’s gone wrong,” Hughes said. “The job is to ride winners the way I always ride them, to get them into a rhythm and find the gaps. And if they come, they come. And if they don’t, they don’t. They haven’t been coming all week and it’s been a nightmare.

“I needed that because things were just getting to me ... I had to keep saying, ‘Believe in yourself.’ I even had a few friends ringing me and consoling me.”

Just The Judge, who lost to Sky Lantern in last month’s 1,000 Guineas too, slipped back to place third, with French horse Kenhope coming second in the fillies-only race.

With Sky Lantern put way out in stall 16 of 17, Hughes had to judge the pace of his race and at one stage was in last place. But he accelerated as his rivals bunched and came through on the outside, pulling away as he crossed the line.

“She made them look slow, and they aren’t bad, I can tell you,” Hughes said.

After all the emotion of Thursday, when Queen Elizabeth II had a winning horse in the signature Gold Cup, it was a low-key, next-to-last day at the famous flat-racing meeting.

Forgotten Voice, a 12-1 shot, won the Wolferton Handicap to give Johnny Murtagh a third victory of the week while trainer Hillstar reeled in evens favorite Battle of Marengo to win the King Edward VII Stakes. That meant another triumph for jockey Ryan Moore and trainer Michael Stoute — who combined to land the Queen victory with Estimate in the Gold Cup.

Lady Cecil — the widow of celebrated trainer Henry Cecil, who died last week — had a winner on Thursday, but couldn’t back it up with another in a race named after her late husband.

She entered Disclaimer in the Queen’s Vase In Memory of Sir Henry Cecil, but her horse tailed off after a bright start, and Leading Light held on for a gutsy win, jockey Joseph O’Brien’s third this week.

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