Royal Ascot: Without Parole attempts to justify John Gunther’s dream

Mon 18 Jun 2018

Topping being the breeder of a US Triple Crown winner takes some doing but for John Gunther victory for Without Parole in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot would achieve exactly that.

After witnessing Justify cement his position as one of US racing’s greats with victory in the Belmont Stakes, the 72-year-old now hopes he can fulfil another dream by watching the John Gosden-trained son of Frankel maintain his unbeaten record and carry his own silks to Group One glory.

He said: “My feet are slowly getting back to the ground after Justify but has taken a while for it to sink in that’s for sure.

“It’s been an incredible journey the Triple Crown, especially the last race. It really was a heart pounding experience to say the least.

“It really is unbelievable to think that he has gone from breaking his maiden to winning the Triple Crown in four months and breaking the curse of Apollo, which goes back to 1882, of a horse unraced at two to become a Triple Crown winner.

“I do think having another home-bred runner at Royal Ascot is something else, though. I’ve been dreaming of having a horse run at Royal Ascot for many years and for this to happen in the same year as breeding a Triple Crown winner is quite a journey.

“I’ve even brought and outfit for the occasion. Usually I rent one but this year is so special I went and got one!”

With his nerves having faced a severe test during Without Parole’s victory in the Heron Stakes at Sandown there is a good chance they will be off the scale come 4.20pm on Tuesday when his pride and joy puts his reputation on the line.

He added: “I came over for the Heron Stakes and I’ve never been so worried in my life. He likes it good to firm and I was worried about the rain.

“I couldn’t sleep and I got up at 3am in the morning and it was raining like crazy. That really worried me as we were going from good to firm to good to soft and we didn’t know if he would handle it that soft but he his class got the job done.

“I think that race at Sandown will do him a lot of good as running him on the soft ground will give him extra fitness.

“Running him in the St James’s Palace Stakes will be one of the biggest moments of my life.

“I’m not taking anything away from the Triple Crown but this race means more to me.

“I remember when I went to Juddmonte with my mare who was unproven at the time but she had a great pedigree. And for Juddmonte for accept her to see Frankel meant so much to me.

“Winning a Group One at Royal Ascot would be the biggest moment of my life if it happens because of all the circumstances of getting there.”

Although Gunther, who has run Glennwood Farm, near Kentucky, with his daughter Tanya for almost 30 years, is excited about what potentially lies ahead for Without Parole, the sight of Justify hitting the heights is something he always felt could happen.

He said: “You could see in Justify the way he acted and strutted around he wanted him to look at you. He knew he was special as a yearling. He had that persona about him.

“The most amazing thing about him is his mentality. He just takes everything in his stride and nothing bothers him at all.

“There was around 170,000 screaming at the Kentucky Derby and he was cool, calm and collected.

“When he entered the starting gate at Belmont he handled it so well in front of such a big crowd. My heart was pounding come out of the starting gate.

“With that big stride nobody else was going to catch him and when the second horse (Gronkowski) came up to him I knew he wasn’t going to get past Justify.”

Achieving big-race results is often the product of teamwork and Gunther has pointed towards the efforts of his daughter Tanya in helping him establish Glennwood into the home of what he hopes will be the site of where more future champions begin their path to greatness.

He added: “We have been going close on 30 years and we’ve had a lot of success with Graded race winners. It is still a work in progress, though.

“Once again I have to thank my daughter Tanya. She left her job as an investment banker to come to Kentucky and run the farm. Her hard work and dedication have turned Glennwood into quite a success, but these things take time.

“Hopefully we can continue to produce more Graded stakes winners and continue to enjoy more good fortune like that we are enjoying at the moment.”

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