Remarkable feat for Soham stud farm as it celebrates its first Royal Ascot winner

Bo Hicks-Little with mare Mainstay, mother of Richard Pankhurst, and her new foal. Picture: Steve Williams. Bo Hicks-Little with mare Mainstay, mother of Richard Pankhurst, and her new foal. Picture: Steve Williams.

Saturday, July 5, 2014
10:59 PM

A stud farm in Soham that was little more than a muddy field 10 years ago completed a remarkable feat when a horse born and raised there won at Royal Ascot.

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Richard Pankhurst, who won the Chesham Stakes at the Royal Ascot festival, was foaled at Pantile Stud, in Soham.Richard Pankhurst, who won the Chesham Stakes at the Royal Ascot festival, was foaled at Pantile Stud, in Soham.

Pantile Stud is owned by Soham businessman Colin Murfitt and has been managed since it was opened almost a decade ago by Bo Hicks-Little.

And it was mother-of-two Bo who was on hand back in 2012 to bring Richard Pankhurst into the world.

Bo cared for the newborn foal and his mother Mainstay in Soham for the first 20 months of his life before he was whisked away to training by Newmarket-based John Gosden last November.

Little more than six months on and Richard Pankhurst stole the headlines at final day of the Ascot festival on Saturday by winning the Chesham Stakes, scoring a first Ascot winner for Bo and the Soham stud.

The 10/1 shot was ridden by William Buick and belied a fourth-place finish at Newmarket last month to romp home, four lengths ahead of second-placed Toscanini.

Delighted Bo, who watched the race live, said: “We have had plenty of winners out of the farm but never an Ascot winner. It was very exciting watching it, I felt like a proud mother. I spoke to the trainer after the race and he thanked me which was really nice of him.

“It was quite emotional to have them ring and thank for me for my part in raising him, it’s not something that is always done.

“He was a lovely horse, very confident. He was Mainstay’s first foal and there was always something nice about him, he had a bit of class, a really lovely horse.”

The horse has created such a stir that bookmakers have already installed him at 12/1 for next year’s prestigious 2,000 Guineas race, in Newmarket.

Richard Pankhurst is owned by Rachel Hood, the wife of trainer Gosden.

He told the Racing Post: “It’s beyond exciting to have a horse that Rachel bred at Pantile Stud in the Fens. It’s unusual to breed a horse in the Fens but they can grow a good horse there - they grow a lot of good vegetables, so why not a horse?”

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