James Doyle put a finger to his lips to silence any remaining doubters as the scales of what is hoped to be a long-lasting racing rivalry tipped strongly in favour of Kingman in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
There had been no disgrace for Kingman in finishing second to Night Of Thunder in a tactical 2,000 Guineas, but the jockey clearly felt there was still a point to prove, and the defeat of his Richard Hannon-trained rival was as clinical as it had been on their earlier meeting in the Greenham Stakes.
Night Of Thunder, under Richard Hughes, surprisingly took the lead instead of stablemate Toormore and, while 8-11 favourite Kingman had some ground to make up with a furlong remaining, he completed it so easily Doyle was looking over his shoulder crossing the line with two and a quarter lengths in hand.
Kingman also secured the Irish Guineas and will now be raised to challenge older horses for overall supremacy of the mile division. He may find himself up against Queen Anne winner Toronado.
Asked about the silence signal, Doyle said: “I probably shouldn’t have done that. I let my emotions go a bit but I got a lot of satisfaction from that.
“A lot of things were said after the Guineas and he’s proved he’s the best of the three-year-olds.
“It was annoying, he didn’t get beaten very far and everyone kind of thought he wasn’t a champion. He’s got so much pace, he’s almost climbing over the back of them wanting them to go quicker.”
Trainer John Gosden added: “It’s two-one to us now, but I like the Hannon family greatly and maybe we’ll meet again later. It’s a great credit to Prince Khalid and Juddmonte, to their breeding operation. I was with Henry [Cecil] when Frankel won this and he had an anxious moment as he went too early. We do not compare ourselves to Frankel, but it’s great for Juddmonte to have another lovely horse.”
Meanwhile, Sole Power is set to return to Royal Ascot on Saturday after he achieved the first leg of a coveted sprint double by winning the King’s Stand Stakes for the second year running.
The Eddie Lynam-trained seven year old will now bid to replicate Choisir’s heroics in 2003 when he runs in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Lynam feels Sole Power has never quite been afforded the respect his record warrants, with this success under new jockey Hughes his sixth triumph in Group company.
Victory at the weekend would, however, surely see him acknowledged as one of the best sprinters in contemporary racing history. Just like 12 months ago, when capably guided by the now-retired Johnny Murtagh, the 5-1 chance only emerged from the pack late on as Stepper Point cut out most of the running.
Young pretender Hot Streak then looked like vindicating his high profile, and 3-1 favouritism, once he nosed in front inside the final furlong. But Hughes’ cute handling ensured Sole Power had a perfect pitch towards the far rail and he effortlessly wiped away the deficit to win going away by a length and a quarter. Lynam said: “He was the best horse in the race.
“This horse has been lucky because he’s never had a well-known trainer but he’s always had a top-class jockey. That was his 17th run in a Group 1 and he’ll have his 18th on Saturday.”
Hootenanny gave American trainer Wesley Ward his fourth Royal Ascot winner with a dominant display in the Windsor Castle Stakes. Ward enjoyed a groundbreaking double with Strike The Tiger in the Windsor Castle and Jealous Again in the Queen Mary Stakes in 2009 and added to his tally with last year’s Norfolk Stakes scorer No Nay Never. Hootenanny, owned by the Coolmore triumvirate of John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, was the trainer’s first runner of a strong juvenile hand this year and was a strongly-backed 7-2 favourite in the hands of Victor Espinoza.
The juvenile got off to a fast start towards the stands rail and while his rivals tried to throw down challenges right across the track, Hootenanny was in a different league as he came home with three and a half lengths in hand over 100-1 shot Union Rose. It was a first Royal winner for Espinoza, who has enjoyed a memorable year having guided California Chrome to win both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.
Frankie Dettori could not have asked for a better start to the meeting as he guided former Ayr winner The Wow Signal to a clear-cut success in the Coventry Stakes.
Dettori now hopes to follow up on Treve in today’s feature race, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
Injury caused Dettori to miss the ride on the Criquette Head-Maarek-trained filly when she won last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but he was back aboard for the four year old’s seasonal bow at Longchamp in April.