The horse was named for a survivor of the infamous 1972 plane crash in the Andes, which made Nando Parrado such an international celebrity that Ethan Hawke played him in the movie. And the horse Nando Parrado became an instant celebrity Saturday, becoming the biggest longshot to win a race in Royal Ascot history.
Going off at 150/1 by the UK books, Nando Parrado captured the six-furlong Coventry Stakes by a length over Qaader. That shattered the previous record shared by 100/1 shots Fox Chapel in the 1998 Brittania Stakes and Flashmans Papers in the 2008 Windsor Castle Stakes.
The payoffs for punters holding winning Nando Parrado tickets were eye-popping. On 1st Bet in the US, Nando Parrado went off at 116/1 and paid $234.20 to win and $40.60 to place. The race did not pay show bets. The $2 exacta paid $1,467 and the $2 trifecta – helped by 25/1 Saeiqa finishing third — bought you a car: $31,585.40.
“When I saw the price, it was a little bit of an insult to our thoughts on him, so I am delighted,” Nando Parrado’s trainer, Clive Cox, told reporters afterward. “I was just saying it is not a shock – the price was a shock. He is a proper horse and we loved him from the start.”
Even Nando Parrado’s Owners Didn’t Want Him Here
The bookmakers didn’t love Nando Parrado, because he finished a well-beaten fifth in his debut at Newmarket earlier this month. Cox had to talk owners Marie and Paul McCartan into running him at Royal Ascot. He said earlier this week, they withdrew him, but Cox talked the McCartans off the ledge and the horse back into the race.
“It was always the plan to come here. It was just a sideways step on his first run,” Cox said. “He came home and thrived from there.”
The McCartans got permission from the human Parrado to name the horse after him. In so doing, they couldn’t have found a better inspiration. Parrado was one of 16 survivors of the 1972 Uruguayan Air Force plane crash in the Andes Mountains. He and the other survivors resorted to cannibalism while trapped in the mountains for two months until Parrado and another survivor went on a 10-day odyssey through the icy mountains to find help.
The story became the subject of a best-selling book, Alive, by Piers Paul Read, the aforementioned movie: Alive. Miracle in the Andes and no fewer than six documentaries.
Frankly, Frankie’s Very Profitable
There was another 150/1 bet that paid off Saturday, one backed by a lot more tickets. Jockey Frankie Dettori won three races: the Coronation Stakes aboard Alpine Star (American trainer Graham Motion’s Kimari finished second), the St. James’s Palace Stakes on Palace Pier and the Queen Mary Stakes aboard the Wesley Ward-trained Campanelle. That earned punters backing Dettori on the daily treble the 150/1 payoff.
It also meant Dettori defended his Royal Ascot jockey title. His six victories tied Jim Crowley, but Dettori prevailed by winning the tiebreaker: four second-place finishes to Crowley’s one. Dettori’s Coronation Stakes win gave him a sweep of every Royal Ascot group stakes and his 73 career meet victories tied the record of the late Pat Eddery.