Jockey Neil Callan always had Rex Imperator in the van, and he pulled clear late on to win by more than two lengths from 66-1 shot Ajjaad, who was a further half-length ahead of the 25-1 chance Burwaaz.
Trainer Willie Haggas had been bullish about Rex Imperator’s chances before the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot in which he finished second, but the odds were not landed until yesterday, the son of Royal Applause being bet in from 14-1 to 12-1.
The annual cavalry charge down the Goodwood slope saw a definite bias in the draw, with the winner, second and third coming from stalls 26, 25 and 28 respectively.
Burwaaz ran a solo effort down the stands’ side rail, but even though he moved slightly towards the centre of the track, Rex Imperator was always going well and asserted inside the final furlong to win in good style from Ajjaad who had followed his lead. Fourth placed Racy, a 16-1 chance, did best of those drawn low, while Scottish trainer Jim Goldie’s Hawkeyethenoo never looked like repeating last year’s victory in this race, the 14-1 shot eventually finishing eighth, two places behind 9-2 favourite Tropics.
Callan, who had recommended the horse to owner George Turner, said: “This means a lot. He jumped smart, William said to ride your own race, to sit on him, wait for that burst and use him late. He’s quickened like the Group horse I thought he was.”
Earlier, the Group 1 Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes saw a shock result with 20-1 outsider Winsili holding off the late challenge of 33-1 chance Thistle Bird with Hot Snap finishing fast and late to take third. It was trainer John Gosden’s second Nassau success after The Fugue’s win last year.
Gosden said: “We were drawn outside, which has dreadful disadvantages, but it does mean that you don’t get boxed in. You tend to get a clear run and I think that was a big help to us today.”
The big disappointment for favourite backers was the poor showing of 1000 Guineas winner Sky Lantern who could only finish fifth after meeting bad interference in running. She has now failed in two outings against older horses, confirming suggestions that this year’s Classic generation of fillies may not be up to scratch.
It was the only setback in the week for her trainer Richard Hannon and jockey Richard Hughes, who both finished as table toppers at the meeting, the duo combining with Pether’s Moon to lift the preceding RAC Handicap.