Balding delivers emotional first Group One win for Thai owners

Ascot (United Kingdom) (AFP) –


Donjuan Triumphant, the first horse bought by the late Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, provided an emotional victory in the opening race on British Champions Day winning the Group One Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot.

The 33/1 outsider -- running in the colours of King Power whose patriarch was killed in a helicopter crash shortly after taking off from Leicester's stadium on October 27 last year -- was given a terrific ride by Brazil's three-time British champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa.

The 38-year-old pounced late on the outside to take the £260,000 ($340,000) first prize and their first success at Group One level.

Vichai's memory is cherished in Leicester as under his ownership the club achieved a fairytale Premier League success in 2016.

His son Aiyawatt 'Top' Srivaddhanaprabha has assumed the reins but was not present as he was expected to attend Leicester's home match with Burnley.

Trainer Andrew Balding said it was a landmark moment for the owners.

"It's fantastic for King Power, a first Group One winner and this was the first horse the Chairman (Vichai) ever bought so it's all got symmetry, it's lovely.

"It was the first horse we had for him and he would have been so proud of him right now.

"This was always going to be his last run and he's off to stud now. He's going to France, and I hope he has a very long, happy life.

"I hope he gets some better-looking brides now as well!.

"I am just so pleased to get a Group One for King Power."

De Sousa has had an injury-troubled season but this more than made up for the frustration of not being able to successfully defend his third jockey's crown.

"I wish the chairman could be here -- he loved Ascot and having winners here," said De Sousa.

"I hope that wherever he is he can see this win.

"It means everything to get one for King Power Racing."

It crowns a successful season for them which has seen them accrue over £1million in prizemoney and almost 60 winners.

Donjuan Triumphant's victory comes on a day when Leicester's fans are marching in tribute to Vichai and the four other victims of the crash from the city centre to the ground prior to their match.

The anniversary on October 27 will be marked by the club officially opening the Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Garden, "a carefully developed, peaceful space, designed to protect the scene of the accident and form a permanent tribute to those so tragically lost a year ago."