Thrill for Malcolm as Rising Star wins at Royal Ascot

Photo: Sue Orpwood


Maidenhead businessman Malcolm O’Connell had the thrill of owning a Royal Ascot winner last week and he was even more delighted to be sharing the experience with friends, writes Dave Wright.

His dream came true when Rising Star won the Kensington Place Stakes, worth more than £51,500 in prize money.

The four-year-old horse, winning for the fifth time, is trained by Italian Marco Botti at Newmarket and was ridden by 43-year-old Neil Callan.

O’Connell leads a syndicate of 10, based around the country and with two in Italy, and they go under the name of Mamba Racing & Partner.

“I wanted something that sounded a bit sophisticated,” commented 47-year-old O’Connell, who formed the syndicate two years ago.

Rising Star went into the one-mile race last Wednesday as one of the outsiders in the 20-runner field with a starting price of 40/1, having opened at 50s, although was 65/1 on the Betting Exchanges. O’Connell admitted he had a ‘reasonable bet’ and added: “We were a bit surprised by the price.”

Rising Star had failed to shine in two outings last month, finishing last of nine at Ascot and then fifth of nine at Beverley, but she returned to form last week when making the 18th appearance of her racing career that had started in August 2020.

“To put up a performance like that on the back of two not quite so good runs by her standard was amazing. This was the best race of her life,” said O’Connell, who works for himself in the fashion industry, offering consultancy and freelance services.

He continued: “Just to be there (Royal Ascot) as an owner is a fantastic experience and will live long in the memory for sure. It was an amazing day, beyond our wildest dreams.”

As for the race, Rising Star was tucked away in midfield before a split came entering the final two furlongs. The filly then picked up well to hold off fellow 40/1 chance Random Harvest by a neck, giving Callan his fifth Royal Ascot winner and Botti his second.

The jockey nicknamed ‘The iron man’ said: “Rising Star was good. She has always been consistent and on a couple of runs this year, she has just had things to against her. If you let her find her own position, she will relax and give it to you. On her day like today, she is more than capable.”

Botti added: “When I saw she was drawn a little bit wide, it was a big task to overcome, but Neil gave her a brilliant ride. I am delighted for the owners, it’s a syndicate of 10 people and everyone is delighted.”

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