Galileo Gold ran out a clearcut winner of the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday, giving trainer Hugo Palmer his first taste of classic success in Britain while it was a third win in the race for jubilant jockey Frankie Dettori.
Massaat, trained by Barry Hills' successor Owen Burrows, finished second and Richard Fahey's Ribchester took third. The odds-on favourite Air Force Blue was never a threat and finished well down the field.
Drawn one, the 14/1 winner was quickly out of the stalls and took the field along down the centre of the course in the early stages, before taking a lead from Zhui Feng.
Gradually wound up by Dettori, he edged into an advantage two furlongs out and had the race in safe keeping from that point. Once getting the better of Massaat, he cut across to the stands' rail and kept on strongly to beat Massaat (9/1) by a length and a quarter with Ribchester (33/1) a creditable third.
A delighted Hugo Palmer said: "Masterful ride, willing partner. I feel so lucky to have him. He's a beautiful, lovely horse, who has just got better and better and better. We have to work with him, not against him, but he's rewarded us.
"Ultimately, I believe the best horse wins the race and it's just the job of the trainer to get him there as best as he can.
"When you come to a race like this you have to have confidence, if not you may as well go somewhere else. If I was going to come here, I was going to believe in it. I've never believed in a horse quite like I believe in this one.
"Frankie was so alert, he said nothing had been coming from behind and that if nothing took us on, he would do it himself and he did."
Despite his name, the winner is by the miler Paco Boy and, though his dam is by Galileo, he is far from certain to stay the Derby distance of a mile and a half. Dettori suggested in his post-race comments that he wouldn't be confident of the horse staying beyond 10 furlongs.
Palmer said of his 33,000gns Tattersalls Ireland purchase: "He's in the French Derby (over a mile and a quarter) and the St James's Palace Stakes (one mile) and they are the other options but we'll let the dust settle before we rush into any decisions."
Dettori added: "I had a lot of faith in this horse. I knew I'd be in the first three. He's a great horse. My main thought was that he stays very well and I knew if I made my may home, he'd gallop on strong.
"It was a great performance from an impossible draw in an impossible race - but it showed what a champion he could be. Everything was against him and he was still much the best."
The jockey, who had admitted that he had been on the verge of retirement until appointed to the role of first-choice rider for Galileo Gold's owner Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, said he was pleased to justify the confidence shown in him.
"Well done to Hugo and to Sheikh Joann, who I am now starting to repay for what he did," he said.
Air Force Blue was niggled along soon after halfway and had nothing to give from fully two furlongs out. Aidan O'Brien's commented: "Ryan said he just didn't feel like the same horse as last year."
Burrows said he was "chuffed to bits" to finish second. "He travelled well, picked up well, and ran right to the line," added the rookie trainer. "My first thought is that he would certainly get 10 [furlongs], but whether he would get the mile and a half we will have to wait and see."
JACK HOBBS BEATEN
Earlier in the day Sir Michael Stoute's good start to the season continued apace as Exosphere ran out a ready winner in the Dunaden At Overbury Jockey Club Stakes.
Jack Hobbs, winner of last year's Irish Derby, was sent off an odds-on shot to make a winning return but was the first horse beaten and William Buick soon pulled him up and dismounted.
Big Orange took the field along but looked a sitting duck and was soon passed by St Leger winner Simple Verse.
For a few strides she looked capable of beating the boys again, but Ryan Moore had yet to ask Exosphere for everything and t he 17-2 chance kicked clear to win by four lengths.
Moore said: "We've always liked him, but I thought it was a big step up against a Leger winner and an Irish Derby winner. Obviously something is not right with Jack (Hobbs).
"He's an impressive horse but I'm a bit surprised he was able to win today, he's obviously improving."
Of Jack Hobbs, trainer John Gosden said: "It's a bit of a mystery, we'll get him checked over."
Stoute said: "We didn't think he'd win, we thought Jack Hobbs would win, but I did say this morning I'd thought he'd be second.
"We liked him last year, but things didn't go right for him after he ran in the Doonside Cup.
"Ryan looked at me as if I was being a bit optimistic but he's done it so well.
"He started off and kept surprising me last year. He's worked better this year than last, so you've got to be happy with that. It was a good performance, we've a nice horse on our hands.
"He's in the Hardwicke (Stakes at Royal Ascot) but I don't know where we'll go as he's only just pulled up, but that's the race he's entered in."
Ralph Beckett said of Simple Verse: "I'm very happy, it was always our intention to give her a prep now to help decide what we do next.
"We are keen to go to the Coronation Cup and this is the perfect preparation for that."
Michael Bell said of third-placed Big Orange: "I'm happy with that as he was out of his comfort zone over a mile and a half. He'll go for the Ascot Gold Cup.
Profitable suggested he may have a good season after landing the Pearl Bloodstock Palace House Stakes.
Clive Cox's four-year-old enjoyed a good season last term without quite landing the big prize his efforts deserved.
With a winter on his back, the son of Invincible Spirit has obviously improved and he showed an electric turn of foot to claim the Group Three prize.
Sent off at 20-1, he raced in the much smaller group on the near side along with John Gosden's Waady.
The far side were taken along by Take Cover with Jungle Cat on his own in the middle.
Challengers were spread right across the track, but Adam Kirby made his bid on entering the dip and he went past Waady with Jungle Cat clinging on for second, half a length back.
Waady was third, a neck away.
Kirby said: "He's improved from last year, he's twice the size he was and physically grown up.
"I'm really chuffed for this horse, he could go the right places.
"I had a good lead till past halfway and then I had to go on and win, you don't know if you're in front until you cross the line."
Cox said. "We felt he had strengthened up, but I felt he may need the run.
"The horses are in great nick and this horse has the profile to go on and have a good season.
"He's out of an Indian Ridge mare and we always felt he'd cope with softer ground, but I think he likes this nice ground.
"He ran well at Ascot over six furlongs last year but I think he's better at five and he should be OK in all those big sprints.
"I'd be slightly guarded if the ground was too soft anywhere as when he ran in France last year, it poured down and when he comes off the bridle he's not as effective.
"We'll be loaded to go anywhere, he's in the King's Stand and we'll take stepping stones between there. There's Haydock (Temple Stakes) and France (Prix du Gros-Chene) so we've got choices."
Appleby said of the runner-up: "Six is his trip as he just catches him out between the two and the one. He was flat to the boards but he stayed on nicely.
"He's in at York but I think we'll wait for Ascot, that will be his main aim."
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