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ROYAL ASCOT: Five things we learned from Royal Ascot 2019
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ROYAL ASCOT: Five things we learned from Royal Ascot 2019
on 22 June 2019
A jockey legend; first Group 1 for a live King George contender; a stayer for the ages; Ballydoyle's best middle-distance three-year-old; a potential classic star of 2020

1. Dettori still the king of Ascot

Almost 23 years on from the famous ‘Magnificent Seven’, Frankie Dettori once again proved he is the man for the big occasion by riding a total of seven winners across the five days – equalling his best ever total for the week.

His Thursday four-timer – rounded off by the Gold Cup triumph of the remarkable Stradivarius – will live long in the memory. Dettori might be closing in on his 50th birthday, but there is no doubt he is riding as well as he ever has – which can only be a good thing for the sport.

2. Ocean finally strikes Group 1 gold – and there’s more on the way

Crystal Ocean is a horse at the absolute peak of his powers and is a fine advertisement for the training skills of the still-masterful Sir Michael Stoute.

Only out of the first two twice in his life, he has rarely looked better than he did in winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday, as he reaffirmed his love affair with Ascot.

In this sort of mood he might take an awful lot of beating in the King George next month.

3. Stradivarius fast becoming a stayer for the ages

Stadivarius enjoyed a faultless campaign in 2018 – winning the Yorkshire Cup, the Gold Cup, the Goodwood Cup and the Lonsdale Cup to land a £1 million bonus through the inaugural Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million.

The five-year-old added the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup back at Ascot in October to his seasonal haul, just for good measure, and picked up where he left off when battling to a second Yorkshire Cup victory last month.

He was unsurprisingly all the rage to successfully defend his Gold Cup crown and there was never really any doubt he would do so during the race itself. Stradivarius is not much to look at, but certainly knows how to get the job done and barring injury, it is hard to see him suffering defeat any time soon.

4.Japan looks another Ballydoyle superstar in the making

Many considered Japan as Aidan O’Brien’s chief Derby contender during the winter months, but an early-season setback put him on the back foot. The Ballydoyle maestro admitted he faced a race against time to get his charge to one of the Derby trials, and he ran accordingly when he did reappear in the Dante at York.

However, his fast-finishing effort to place third in the Derby at Epsom confirmed he was a colt of immense promise and there is an argument for saying he is O’Brien’s best three-year-old middle-distance performer following his awesome display in Friday’s King Edward VII Stakes.

He would be a fascinating contender if taking on Crystal Ocean in the King George, but he seems more likely to go to France for the Grand Prix de Paris, while longer term he must be viewed as a realistic contender for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

5. Pinatubo puts down classic marker

If Japan’s effort was the best performance of the week, he was run very close in that department by Pinatubo, who looked the real deal in the Chesham Stakes on Saturday.

Aidan O’Brien’s Lope Y Fernandez was very much the buzz horse, but just as the pair settled down to battle it out, Pinatubo switched on the turbo to run right away from the favourite.

He broke the seven-furlong juvenile track record in doing so, and on this evidence Charlie Appleby’s colt is every inch a classic candidate for next year.

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