Sea Moon lays down King George marker
Next month’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Sponsored by Betfair) is next on the agenda for Sea Moon after his impressive success in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes, which he won three and a quarter lengths.
The Melbourne Cup first and second, Dunaden and Red Cadeaux, finished second and third, giving the form of the race a solid look.
Aidan O'Brien's Memphis Tennessee finished a disappointing last.
Winning trainer Sir Michael Stoute said: “Ryan said that he was never going to get beaten - I couldn’t quite agree with him - but he said that he wouldn’t ride him like that again. We thought that there would be no pace and we couldn’t let them canter round there. Ryan said that he doesn’t want to be in front. Today was not a bad standard.
“It’s his best performance to date and a big improvement from his last run at Goodwood where it didn’t suit him to make the running. My plan would be to come back here for the King George."
Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager to Sea Moon’s owner Khalid Abdulla, added: “Michael and the whole team have done a magnificent job. The horse had been a bit rusty but to bring him back and win like that was tremendous.”
Dunaden, who was victorious in last season’s Melbourne Cup and Hong Kong Vase, ran another gallant race.
The six-year-old, trained in France by Mikel Delzangles, was travelling well rounding the home bend, but then met trouble before staying on strongly to finish three and a quarter lengths behind the impressive winner.
Delzangles said: “Rounding the home bend Dunaden had to slow down because of the horse in front and couldn’t get out. He finished very well and stayed on very well, but couldn’t get out when he wanted.
“The King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes is a possibility.”
Red Cadeaux, trained by Ed Dunlop, finished four lengths behind the winner in third, while John Gosden’s Aiken took fourth place.
Dunlop said: “It was a very good run from Red Cadeaux. We were beaten by the favourite and horse who has beaten us twice, so we have conceded defeat. Dunaden is better than us but we probably won’t run against him again.
“We will take Red Cadeaux home and give him one more run before Australia (Melbourne Cup).”
Gosden said: “I am very happy with Aiken. He got trapped wide, a little wider than we thought, and we had to kick for the first bend, but I was very pleased with him and he has done everything right.
“We’ll freshen him up and look at races such as the Grand Prix De Deauville.”
Earlier, Godolphin’s Tha’ir took the Chesham Stakes by two and a quarter lengths to become the third winner at Royal Ascot this year for his first-crop sire New Approach, following Dawn Approach and Newfangled.
Another Irish winner had been expected here as Jim Bolger's Move To Strike was sent off favourite but Kevin Manning's mount raced freely and hung in the closing stages before finishing in fourth place, beaten by about five lengths.
Mick Channon's Cruck Realta took second spot, a place ahead of Godolphin's promising filly Lovely Pass (by Raven's Pass).
Godolphin's racing manager Simon Crisford said: “It’s fantastic and what a result for New Approach - he’s a brilliant first-season stallion with three winners at Royal Ascot - it’s unbelievable. All three of his winners look really, really top class. That’s the most exciting thing for us about our flat racing project because he is going to be the future.
“I am really excited and it’s been a fantastic week for the team. We came here hoping that we would do well but we were really pleased and lucky to have this winner.
“The horse has improved with every race. He has been to Ripon twice and his second start there stood him in good stead for today. He has stepped up again today
“We will talk to Sheikh Mohammed but he might go to Goodwood (for the Vintage Stakes) and we will see how he gets on there. This is the hardest place in the world to win, the racing is so competitive, but all of our horses have run well.”
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor added: “He improved a lot for his last run and five days ago did a really good piece of work. His rider was surprised at how much he had improved and thought he had a very good chance today. Stepping up to seven furlongs suited him and he could go to Goodwood now.”
Trainer John Gosden continued an unforgettable Royal Ascot when saddling his fifth winner of the meeting after Camborne won the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap under William Buick.
The rapidly improving four-year-old by Doyen swooped from last place to first in this very hot 12-furlong handicap and won, going away, by two and a half lengths.
French raider Hammerfest took second for trainer John Hammond and Aidan O'Brien's Harrisons Cave was a very respectable third.
“I was delighted for William because he had just lost that (leading jockeys’) armband and I was thinking that he was going to go to bed with it on tonight,” said Gosden. “I knew that he was going to jump and try to get a position but I thought ‘no, this horse doesn’t do that’.
“You have to let horses have their own ideas and they go with you but, if you try and force an idea on them, they say: ‘ this is your idea, not mine’. So he rode a beautiful race to come from last and get the job done. He sort of finished strong, didn’t he? This horse is a character and we’ll look at Listed races now.
“I’m lucky to have a jockey who is bright, my only instruction to him was to drop this horse into last. He thought I was mad but he listened to me.
“It’s a great meeting, it’s the height of heights, and to be leading trainer here is great but it’s all down to my staff and owners."
William Buick said: “John said to me in the paddock that this was a fancied horse in a big handicap and that I should give him a chance, ride him with confidence. He kind of assured me and it gave me confidence.
“The horse has done everything right and has won very well in the end. He doesn’t do very much in front, so it would be wrong to ride him any other way. It has worked out well and it has been a fantastic week and, with one more race to go, hopefully we can do it again.”
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