It was a case of Allez France at Ascot today as Watch Me, trained by Francis Graffard and ridden by Pierre-Charles Boudot, upset the hot favourite Hermosa to land the Group One feature race of the day.
Watch Me had been considered an unlucky loser in the Poule d’Essai Du Pouliches (the French 1,000 Guineas) but was still allowed to go off at 20/1 today as bettors latched onto the O’Brien favourite who was coming here with two classics already on her CV.
From the start Ryan Moore had Hermosa handy and she raced in second place as Irish Guineas runner-up Pretty Pollyanna dictated the pace. Boudot raced handily, travelling in Hermosa’s slipstream for much of the race. As they turned for home More, eager to capitalise on Hermosa’s stamina, sent his filly for home but Boudot was still sitting with a double handful in behind.
Once they’d passed the two furlong (400m) pole Boudot gave Watch Me a nudge and the response was immediate, the filly cruising into the front. The only danger appeared to be the unexposed Jubiloso who was also coming with a dangerous run on the outside.
But Watch Me was not for stopping and as Jubiloso faltered the race was won. Hermosa stayed on valiantly, denying Jubiloso second place, but Watch Me won in decisive fashion in the end.
Graffard, saddling his first Royal Ascot winner, said after the race, “She travelled really nicely and quickened very nicely to win well. I’ll have to watch the race again, but she took the lead quite early and never stopped.”
Winning jockey Boudot was understandably thrilled, “Today the race was perfect for her, behind Hermosa we were travelling well and very easy. It’s a big day for me, it’s a first Group 1 at Royal Ascot.”
Australian based jockey James McDonald, who was aboard the third, the inexperienced Jubiloso, reckoned that Sir Michael Stoute has a “superb filly in the making, she lacked a bit of ringcraft.”
Earlier in the day the Group One Commonwealth Cup had gone the way of Advertise, whose trainer Martyn Meade was also enjoying his first Royal Ascot success. Advertise had top class two year old form but had disappointed when stepped up to a mile in the 2,000 Guineas. This drop in trip back to 6 furlongs suited him and it is likely the application of first time blinkers also helped his cause.