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The Queen's Tactical wins at Newmarket ahead of potential Royal Ascot return

KINGSCLERE trainer Andrew Balding handed the Queen her first winner since the death of her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, as Tactical won the listed European Free Handicap at Newmarket.

Under Lambourn-based jockey Oisin Murphy, the three-year-old bolted up the running rail to finish ahead of pre-race favourite Naval Crown.

Andrew Balding (46184438)
Andrew Balding (46184438)

Speaking to ITV Racing after the race, Murphy said: “Firstly my thoughts are with Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family at the moment, in this very sad time.

“This fella [Tactical] is really tough and it was a very nice performance.

“He would have been an unlucky loser because he’s trained really well and it’s always an honour to wear these colours.”

The win was the second time the pairing of Murphy and Balding have won at Newmarket in as many days as Carolus Magnus won a Maiden Stakes on Tuesday.

After the race, Balding said that Royal Ascot is likely to be the next aim for the three-year-old.

“Royal Ascot is very much the objective and the purpose here was to find out which race,” he said. “He might stay a mile and he'll have a St James's Palace entry, and then there's obviously the Jersey Stakes.

“I'll discuss it with Her Majesty and John [Warren] but I think I'd rule out the Commonwealth Cup. It looked very much like seven furlongs, and possibly a mile, would suit him well.”

Tactical won Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot last year and Balding discussed the chances of another appearance at the meeting.

“It was a great thrill for everyone at the yard when he won at Royal Ascot last year and it might be expecting too much to do it again, but he's the right type. He has a great mind.

“If he stayed a mile, there'd certainly be more to come as the programme book opens up a bit more, whereas seven furlongs is quite restrictive, but we're thrilled to win today and all roads lead to Ascot.”

Meanwhile, there was good news at Cheltenham regarding another local trainer.

Rhonehurst handler Oliver Sherwood secured his first winner at the track since Many Clouds’ Cotswold Chase win in 2017, as Jersey Bean won a Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

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