Agrotera an epic first royal winner for Ed Walker
Ed Walker enjoyed an “epic” first Royal Ascot winner when the highly regarded Agrotera stormed home a ready two-and-three-quarter-length winner from outsider Ortiz.
The winner, carrying the Stradivarius silks of Bjorn Nielsen, was backed from 14-1 into 11-2 on Thursday and Ladbrokes were on record before the race describing her as the best-backed horse of the week. Had punters known what jockey Jamie Spencer knew, she might well have gone off even shorter.
Spencer won the Sandringham last year with the most dramatic ride of the week on Con Te Partiro, and he adopted typically patient straight-mile waiting tactics again on Agrotera. This time, however, he had plenty in hand.
Interviewed after Agrotera had made light of a mark of 88, he revealed: “Bjorn told me before the race that Agrotera was working to between 110 and 115. Maths was never my strong suit at school and it was at about the two pole that I worked out how much I had in hand. Almost two stone!”
Walker is in his eighth full season with a licence, but his first back in Lambourn in the Kingsdown Stables owned by Nielsen, an owner-breeder of quality thoroughbreds who has around a dozen horses with him.
His aim at the start of the season was “a Group 1 winner and a Royal Ascot winner”, and his delight at fulfilling one leg was heightened at it coming with a filly owned by his boss.
“It’s just epic. It’s been a tough two weeks as we’ve been hitting the crossbar but not had a winner from 30-odd runners. It doesn’t do your confidence much good, but we knew we had a very, very good filly and we knew she was on a good mark. She proved that today and she won’t be running in another handicap.”
He added: “Mr Nielsen is a great guy and it’s a wonderful set-up. He’s a relatively small breeder but he’s very, very good at it and breeds magnificent horses.”
Nielsen repaid the compliment and said: “I’m very happy Ed has trained his first winner at the meeting. Agrotera had been working very well and looked different class out there.
“I was confident before the race, but it’s so hard to win here. Lots of things can go wrong, but it’s been a pretty good week!”