Blue Point confirmed his superiority over Battaash to win back-to-back renewals of the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Billed as a match between the big two, it developed into everything race fans wanted inside the final furlong – but Charlie Appleby’s five-year-old was pulling away at the line.
In the early stages Jim Crowley on Battaash was tracking Houtzen, but they were on their own and just after halfway Crowley took the decision to track over towards the main group.
As Blue Point moved to the head of that pack, Battaash travelled up strongly alongside him, only for James Doyle’s mount to see it out the strongest.
The 5/2 chance won by a length and a quarter, with Soldier’s Call just pipping Mabs Cross for third to prevent an identical result to last year.
Appleby said: “I was concerned the ground might get too soft for him, but it can rain as much as it likes now! We’ve all been very much involved in this horse. It’s great for William (Buick) being here and the team at home have done a fantastic job with this horse.
“To do back-to-back wins in this race is fantastic, as I know he’s going to have a great career at stud when he retires at the end of the season.
“During the winter we saw how much more professional he was. He’s strengthened and when William got off him after his first start in Dubai he said he was a different animal. He’s the finished article now."
"Coming into today's race, I knew he was in the form of his life. Physically he looks the real deal. Two weeks ago James rode the horse in a bit of work and came back saying 'the ground is a bit loose' and all the usual excuses you come up with when a gallop doesn't go quite according to plan, but I hoped the horse would come forward for that.
"Then last Wednesday he rode him again and the horse was electric. James got off him and said, 'That's the fastest horse I've ridden', and we saw what he meant today.
Charlie Appelby and Blue Point
“I’ve got a great team behind me and it’s great for Sheikh Mohammed and his family being here. We’ll give him a little break and work back from the Abbaye at some stage.”
William Buick, who won on Blue Point 12 months ago, is currently sidelined following a case of concussion and so James Doyle stepped in for the ride today. Appleby said of Buick: "He's here today, he's in the gym regularly and he's looking great. With the way things are going, I would expect to see him back by the end of July. Having said that, he pushes himself so hard and if he told me next week he was ready to come back it wouldn't surprise me. It is William's call."
Blue Point, who has now four races from five starts at Ascot, a track which brings out the best in him, had run in three sprints at Meydan since the turn of the year, winning them all, including the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint.
Charlie Hills said of Battaash: “I think he probably just got a little bit outstayed again. It is just testing his stamina a bit. He was drawn wide and unfortunately the horse (Houtzen) we thought was going to take us on early into the race slipped out of the stalls.
“We just got a little bit detached from the race and he had to make his move a little early, but he ran a really good race. The race worked out how we envisaged it. We will go to Goodwood now for the King George.”
Archie Watson was thrilled with Soldier’s Point: “He ran a huge race. He ran against these horses at two, which very few horses do. That is way to ride him and he showed a lot of speed today.
“He ran a very good race at York and has taken a big step forward today. We don’t have to be too clever to where we run him, either. I know he is good enough to win one of these and I hope he can.
“Goodwood was the one place where he didn’t like the track, so he won’t be going there and it is only a Group 2. All roads lead to the Group 1's at the end of the season.”
Michael Dods added of Mabs Cross: “I think she ran her race. If anything the biggest problem was they weren’t going hard for a Group 1 sprint.
“At halfway she was travelling too well, as I would rather see her off the bridle, as when she is she really comes home. She filled a similar sort of position last year.
“I’d imagine now we will go to the Nunthorpe.”