“There has been no rain since Wednesday and we are expecting a dry night and more dry weather today for the final day of this year’s Royal Meeting.Temperatures are expected to rise slightly today and the track is riding really well,” that was the word from Clerk Of Course Chris Stickels on the eve of the final day of Royal Ascot 2019.
Friday’s attendance came to 66,507, as against 69,087 for the fourth day last year, and climaxed in an amazing few days in the career of French trainer Francis-Henri Graffard which began with a victory in the Gr1 Prix De Diane, the French Oaks, and was completed by a first Royal Ascot win.
Watch Me’s 20/1 success in the Gr1 Coronation Stakes was a fabulous follow-up to Channel’s win in Sunday’s big race at Chantilly. Graffard can claim to train two of the top fillies in Europe, and there was no mistaking Watch Me’s superiority in today’s one-mile test for three-year-old fillies.
Ridden by Pierre-Charles Boudot she won by one and a half lengths from the English and Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Hermosa (evens favourite), with Jubiloso (9/2) a further one length back in third.
Graffard said: “It’s a week you dream of. As I was saying on Sunday, you get up every morning to do this job and to be part of the game at this level.
“That’s why I set up in Chantilly – I wanted to win Classics and big races. It happened on Sunday, which was a big day for a Frenchman, in France, and I was confident today again. I trusted in my filly, and she has worked well, which gave me confidence.”
Watch Me was luckless in running during the Poule d’Essai Des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas), in which she finished sixth, and Graffard said: “I thought we had to put that race in the Guineas behind us, because everything went against her, and today we were 20/1, which was good for me with the owner. I was able to say to them ‘Enjoy yourself, we are an outsider and there is no pressure’.
“It’s a fantastic result. She travelled very nicely, and while I have to watch the race again she did it very well. After the Guineas Olivier Peslier told me to run her in the Prix de Diane, but after bad luck in that race I didn’t want to change everything [by stepping her up in trip] and so I said let’s stay with the first plan and go to Ascot.”