Newmarket trainer Richard Spencer, in just his second-season with a licence, saddled his first Royal Ascot runner – and winner – when Choisir colt Rajasinghe (2c Choisir-Bunditten, by Soviet Star) landed the G2 Coventry Stakes on Tuesday in course-record time.
Spencer was given his big chance by Phil Cunningham, the racehorse owner who bought a yard and stud in Newmarket and gave the now 28-year-old a chance to train from his base. The two men teamed up with agent Bobby O’Ryan to buy Rajasinghe as a yearling for £85,000 at Doncaster sales last year.
Spencer said of Rajasinghe: “Words can’t describe how I feel, but he’s a top horse and we’ve liked him from day one. We sent him to Newcastle [for his only previous run] and thought he would take a lot of beating, and he wasn’t cooked for that run.
“He’s going to stay further – my assistant Johnny Bailey has been asking that they extend [the Newmarket gallops] Warren Hill and Long Hill because every day he rides him the horse just tanks. He’s great natured, and tough.”
Rajasinghe, bred by James and Geoff Mulcahy, was a first Royal Ascot triumph for jockey Stevie Donohoe and time of 1:12.39 was a two-year-old Ascot record for six furlongs.
Donohoe said: “He’s been impressing at home and he won with some authority on his only start at Newcastle, and it rode a good race. He’d done everything right. All the statistics about me as jockey and Richard having his first runner at Royal Ascot probably hindered his chances on price. This is one of the highlights of my career – just having a ride on the big days is hard enough, let alone a winner.
“He’s very tough. It was about keeping him chilled beforehand and relaxed. He’ll stay further; he loved the ground – he’s actually pretty versatile on ground – and he’s got a great mind.
“We’re just delighted he has won in the manner he did. I would have loved some cover but it just wasn’t there so he’s done it all on his own.”