A great season for Fastnet Rock in Europe continued on Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday when the Dermot Weld-trained Fascinating Rock (4c Fastnet Rock-Miss Polaris, by Polar Falcon) took the feature £1.3 million G1 QIPCO Champion Stakes.
The four-year-old winner, home-bred by Maurice and Patricia Regan’s Newtown Anner Stud, came home one and a quarter lengths clear of Found (3f Galileo-Red Evie, by Intikhab), with Evens favourite Jack Hobbs half a length away in third.
Facsinating Rock headed to Ascot on the back of a six-length victory in the G3 KPMG Enterprise Stakes at Leopardstown in September.
Weld said: “I like this place! Fascinating Rock has always had the potential to do what he did today, and I had this race planned for about six months. We knew it would be softer in the autumn, and he loves soft ground, and he was a decent horse in the spring.
“He was only just beaten by Al Kazeem in May’s G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup, with G1 King George winner Postponed in third, then we left him off for the summer, giving him time by the banks of the River Suir – and then he came back in.
“He won by six lengths on Irish Champions’ Day at Leopardstown and I was impressed with the way he did it, and then we stuck with the original plan which was this race today. The plan was to ride him off the pace and I told Pat to give him time and hunt away on him and he came home in front. That will be his final run this season.”
Jockey Pat Smullen admitted after the race he was aware that he faced no easy task.
He said: “It would be silly of me to say that we came here thinking, ‘yes we are definitely going to win,’ but this is a very talented horse and it was the first time in a long time that he got exactly the right conditions, a fast run mile and a quarter with good ease in the ground. It brought the best out of him.
“He was very impressive at Leopardstown and even better again today. We always thought of him as a G1 horse. He was tactically very aware today, wherever I put him he picked up and just showed today how good a horse he is. He proved today how good he is, he beat Found, he beat Jack Hobbs and they are two very good horses. He beat them all on merit today, he got everything right today.”
Others European stars for Fastnet Rock this season include G1 Oaks heroine Qualify (3f Fastnet Rock-Perihelion, by Galileo), G1 Pretty Polly Stakes winner Diamondsandrubies (3f Fastnet Rock-Quarter Moon, by Sadler´s Wells) and two-year-old Turret Rocks (2f Fastnet Rock-Beyond Compare, by Galileo), who won the G2 May Hlll Stakes at Doncaster.