Godolphin’s Pinatubo maintained his unbeaten record with a deeply impressive display in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Having followed up his winning debut at Wolverhampton with victory in the Woodcote at Epsom three weeks ago, Charlie Appleby’s colt was a 3-1 shot to complete his hat-trick in this seven-furlong Listed event under James Doyle.
The well-touted 5-4 favourite Lope Y Fernandez moved towards the front racing inside the final two furlongs, but Pinatubo covered the move and quickly asserted his authority – pulling clear to score emphatically by three and a quarter lengths.
Lope Y Fernandez was a clear second ahead of Highland Chief in third.
Appleby said: “I’m delighted – he came here with the right credentials.
“He surprised me first time up when he won at Wolverhampton, but learnt plenty. We went to Epsom confident on the back of that and he showed an impressive turn of foot that day.
“I was confident throughout the race today that we were going to get the business done.
“We’ll step up in class now, obviously. Something like the Vintage Stakes (at Goodwood) could be for him, the way he travels. The National Stakes (at the Curragh) wouldn’t be out of the question later.”
Doyle said: “He’s quite a sleepy horse at home and just goes up and down. You wouldn’t notice him in the string.
“He travelled fantastic today. It was just a case of keeping a lid on him for the early part of the race. Obviously his experience at Epsom brought him on a lot. He hit the lids well and I had to hang on to him to save that energy.
“Once we got a bit of room he quickened up well and put the race to bed nicely.
“I can see him getting another furlong, but there are plenty of options for him at seven.”
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Tuesday’s King’s Stand hero Blue Point is one of 18 horses declared for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday.
Charlie Appleby’s speedball successfully defended his King’s Stand crown with a tremendous performance to see off old foe Battaash on the opening day of the showpiece meeting.
The five-year-old will now bid to become the first horse since Australian raider Choisir in 2003 to win both major sprints in the same week.
Godolphin trainer Appleby told Press Association Sport: “He’s come out of Tuesday’s race well and it was always in the back of our minds that we might do do this, but we didn’t want to say too much after Tuesday’s race because we wanted to see how he came out of it.
“He was obviously entered in both races and he seems to have taken the King’s Stand well. He had some light exercise this morning and looks great and has eaten up – he’s doing all the things you’d want him to do if you’re thinking about running again a few days later.
“After discussing it with His Highness (Sheikh Mohammed), we decided we’d declare him and it still gives us another 48 hours to check everything is fine with the horse.
“We think he deserves to take his chance.”
Blue Point’s task is far from straightforward, with several top-class sprinters lying in wait.
The James Tate-trained Invincible Army has been the star of the six-furlong division so far this season – impressing in the Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster and the Duke of York Stakes.
Last year’s second and third in Stephane Wattel’s City Light and Wesley Ward’s Bound For Nowhere are back for more, while the 2017 winner – James Fanshawe’s The Tin Man – is out to regain his crown.
Like Blue Point, Aidan O’Brien’s Le Brivido and Michael Pitman’s New Zealand challenger Enzo’s Lad are both turning out for the second time in the space of five days, having finished down the field in the Queen Anne and King’s Stand respectively.
Other contenders include Sir Michael Stoute’s Dream Of Dreams and the Richard Fahey-trained Sands Of Mali.
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Stradivarius became the first horse to win successive Ascot Gold Cups since Yeats won his fourth in 2009 on Thursday.
It was a memorable day for Frankie Dettori who won the first four races at Royal Ascot.
The Italian kicked off his day with Al’Ali in the Norfolk Stakes for Simon Crisford, before winning the Hampton Court aboard the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Sangarius and the Ribblesdale Stakes with John Gosden’s Star Catcher.
It was then all eyes on the Gold Cup, where Dettori again emerged victorious through Gosden’s defending champion Stradivarius.
In winning his seventh successive race, Stradivarius created his own little piece of history. For once Dettori appeared to be in the wrong place as he was stuck behind horses, with Dee Ex Bee still in front alongside Master Of Reality, but as soon as a gap appeared the chestnut was through it like a shot.
Dee Ex Bee battled back for second, just pipping Master Of Reality.
“What a horse, he got me out of trouble,” said Dettori. “He’s the horse for the big occasion and people love him.
“It’s great for everyone connected with the horse – every time he runs he delivers.”
Asked if he could go through the card, he replied: “I did it in 1996, so you never know.”