It is no secret that York is Kevin’s favourite track but that is a statement that rings true for most Northern trainers. The grade 1 track is impeccably run, offers brilliant prize money and is one of the fairest tracks going. With the Dante meeting being lost, people were itching to get racing back to the Knavesmire and thankfully it is now. Kevin has made a good start and Queen Jo Jo delivered a thrilling Group 3 win when taking the William Hill Summer Fillies Stakes over 6f.
The daughter of Gregorian is owned by good friends Roger Peel and Steve Parkin (Clipper Logistics) and arrived at Hambleton Lodge from the breeze ups two years ago. She was always a big filly and although she showed big potential it would be time before her best would be seen. Group placed at 2, Queen Jo Jo then managed to gain pattern success last year as a 3yo when winning a listed event at Nottingham. She would only run once more when picking up another 3rd place at group level.
Unfortunately Queen Jo Jo never had a clear run in her training but once she arrived back this year it was clear to see why. Finally she managed to fill out into her frame and Queen Jo Jo looked like the strong, powerful filly her physique pertained to. With her pre season work being as good as ever, 2020 looked like it could be an exciting year for the 4yo to build on her career record. A fine second on her return to action, in a listed event at Haydock, set Queen Jo Jo up perfectly for the season ahead. Unfortunately the next run was a real head scratcher as she went to Ireland for the Greenlands Stakes. Jumping slowly she never raised a gallop and had everyone confused.
Lightly raced and already a listed winner, Queen Jo Jo was aimed at the Group 3 Summer Stakes at York. The 6f contest was the obvious choice as she would be taking on hr own sex. There was 18 runners declared for the race but despite her good form Queen Jo Jo was seen as an outsider. Connections did not have the same thought and there was confidence behind Jo Jo outrunning her 25/1 odds. Sam James had gained his first listed success on board the filly last year and was booked for the ride.
Looking at the race beforehand the pace was all drawn away from Queen Jo Jo as she was given stall 18. She dwelt a little once again and found herself towards the back of the field as the stalls opened. Just as thought, the leaders blasted away on the far side and there was a furious gallop from the off. The field began to split after the first furlong and the leading group led towards the centre of the track. Queen Jo Jo found herself at the rear of the near side group and looking outpaced early on. Sam didn’t rush the filly although there was a slight worry after her last run.
York is a fast track and with some naturally fast fillies the pace was break neck. Queen Jo Jo looked to be struggling before the halfway point but as they headed down to 3 1/2f the two groups began to merge. This showed Queen Jo Jo’s position and she sat in last position well over 12 lengths off the front end. Halfway was the first time that Sam had to begin to ask the filly to try and make up ground. Although the reaction wasn’t immediate, Queen Jo Jo did start going forward which gave Sam some hope she may come good for him late on although she had a mountain to climb.
Moving past the 2f marker Queen Jo Jo started to make a little headway but then anyone watching the TV screens lost track of her. Still sat in last place Queen Jo Jo had that much ground to make up that she fell off the screen. Although you couldn’t see it Queen Jo Jo started to find her feet and came good underneath Sam. Breathtaking Look had been towards the front end throughout the contest and took the lead as they entered the final 1/4 mile. Quickly forging on the leader opened up a clear lead and looked to make a race winning move with those around unable to go with her. Out of the picture Sam was getting a tune from Queen Jo Jo and the grey was quickly finding top gear.
The next time that Queen Jo Jo came into the picture of the screen was the final furlong. Breathtaking Look had kicked clear and gone with her rivals beating a retreat. From the main body of the group only Sunday Star could give chase but suddenly the grey nose of Queen Jo Jo came flying into view down the near side rail. Now Sam could smell a win but with plenty of ground still to make up Queen Jo Jo had to continue to find. The filly proved very brave and was eating up the ground. With 100 yards to run there was still a deficit of a couple of lengths but Queen Jo Jo was finishing like a wet sail. What would come first, the line or Queen Jo Jo. It was agonisingly close but momentum was with Jo Jo and she snatched the lead away in the dying strides, with just enough time to go a neck up as she hit the line.
After the disappointment of Ireland it was great to see Queen Jo Jo back to her best. For a long way in the contest it seemed as though the race could have gotten away from her but she is brave and talented, two traits which saw her come out on top. Sam has struck up a great rapport with Queen Jo Jo and there are very few jockeys who would have stuck by and trusted Jo Jo to come good. Now she is a listed and Gr3 winner, Gr2 and Gr3 placed filly so her future is set for the breeding sheds. Queen Jo Jo is the best horse that Roger Peel has ever owned and with both himself and Steve Parkin being local enough to York, giving them a Group winner was fantastic. Stepping up in grade will be on the agenda for Queen Jo Jo if a suitable race can be found and the 4yo is still lightly raced so there could be more to come.