The King Returns – Equiano Reclaims King’s Stand Stakes
French-bred Equiano repeated his winning performance from the 2008 King’s Stand Stakes, much to the delight of Barry and Michael Hills. Although the five-year-old was far from graceful taking off – a frightening stumble had spectators thinking the race was over for Equiano and jockey Michael Hills – as soon as he found his balance there was simply no stopping the former champion.
Trainer Barry Hills was delighted to see his charge work up to outstanding speed, running the five furlongs of the race in 59 seconds, leaving behind a baffled field of contenders, including race favourite Nicconi, who managed nothing but a fourth place under jockey Frankie Dettori.
Markab, from the stables of Henry Candy, was one of the few contenders who gave chase in any serious manner, crossing the line 1 ½ lengths behind the flying French runner. Jockey Pat Cosgrave insisted on his mount’s abilities and kept him steady, snatching the runner-up position by a neck from Borderlescott under Robin Bastiman. Candy was overjoyed at his charge’s performance and is already planning on expanding Markab’s Group 1 experience at the next possible opportunity.
However, the biggest smiles of the race were undoubtedly on the faces of father-son duo Barry and Michael Hills. The pair took over training Equiano shortly after his King’s Stand Stakes win in 2008 from Delcher-Sanchez and spent most of 2009 nursing him through ill health without great successes on the track. Since re-entering the scene at top form in April 2010 however, Equiano has been going from strength to strength, topping off his quest to regain his status as one of the most dangerous contenders on the field by reclaiming his title of King’s Stand Stakes Champion.