Highland Reel leads rivals a merry dance at Royal Ascot

Highland Reel secured a sixth Group One triumph in a decorated career when he won the Prince of Wales's Stakes, the feature race on day two of Royal Ascot.

Highland Reel and jockey Ryan Moore after winning the Prince Of Waless Stakes at Ascot. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA

The teak-tough colt is not the most fashionable of Aidan
O’Brien’s A-list horses, but few are more resilient when it comes to a fight. And so it proved once again as Ryan Moore’s companion bravely fended off all-comers to score at odds of 9-4.

Scottish made most of the running, with Highland Reel hot on his heels and Decorated Knight not too far away, either.

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The landscape of the race barely altered until deep inside the second-last furlong when Ulysses made his move.

Ulysses and Decorated Knight even nudged in front of the eventual winner but Highland Reel was simply too tough and too streetwise when it mattered and O’Brien’s five-year-old ended up winning by a length and a quarter, with a short head separating Decorated Knight and Ulysses.

Moore said: “He’s so tough, he’s got a marvellous attitude, so many came at him there.

“This lad has been everywhere but he keeps coming back. It was a tough performance at Epsom [Coronation Cup] and another one today, he’s so brave and I’d say that was probably a career best.

“Fair play to Aidan to keep bringing him back. He had a difficult day at Epsom but to come here and win, it’s a 
massive performance.

“We knew he’d see it out 
really well.”

Jack Hobbs, the 2-1 favourite, was a huge disappointment and finished last having had every chance.

O’Brien said of Highland Reel: “He’s a brilliant horse and Ryan gave him a brilliant ride.

“Davy and Andrew were 
happy with him at home and they were really looking forward to it. We’re delighted.

“Seamus [Heffernan] was very happy with his work and David, who rides him every day, was over the moon with him. He’s unbelievable.

“He’s just an incredible horse – pace, courage, speed, he has everything, he’s a great horse.

“He’s won’t stop, he’s so quick tactically and so brave. He stays a mile and a half well but won over seven at two so he’s always had that pace.”

O’Brien added: “He has a super mind and is unbelievably brave. Ryan was happy if the pace was on he’d take a lead.

“He’s passed all the tests, all the time – two, three, four and five, all the way along.”

Asked about plans, O’Brien said: “He’ll come back here for the King George, that’s what we were thinking if he ran well today.”

Roger Charlton said of the runner-up Decorated Knight: “To be fair he was a 10-1 shot today and was fourth or fifth-favourite but every time he improves and finds a bit more.

“It looked like Ulysses had gone past him, but he battled back and it was no disgrace being beaten by Highland Reel.

“I think his improvement has come about since we’ve started training him by himself in a quiet place like Beckhampton.

“He might go for the Eclipse but we’ll talk to the owners, the other option is the Arlington Million but after a performance like that the Eclipse has to be on the agenda.”

Sir Michael Stoute said of Ulysses: “I think that was his best performance to date and he has developed from three to four, mentally as well, he’s relaxing much better.”

John Gosden was inclined to blame the ground for the eclipse of Jack Hobbs. He said: “That trip on that ground is not his scene. A mile and a quarter here in the autumn on soft, no problem – but this just isn’t his ground.

“He didn’t let himself down on it. He came with every chance in the straight.

“You always notice with a horse whether they get low and race but just stay on the same lead leg coming back off the ground.”