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Royal Ascot Day 2 Recap: Highland Reel Wins G1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes

Ascot Racecourse

ASCOT, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND – Globetrotting superstar Highland Reel stamped his class on the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes with a game performance to provide Ballydoyle handler Aidan O’Brien with his 56th career victory at the Royal Meeting and his first success of the week at the Berkshire venue.

After breaking smartly under Ryan Moore, the 5-year-old son of Galileo handled the drop back to 10 furlongs with aplomb, finding plenty for pressure in the home straight to repel the challenge from Roger Charlton’s Decorated Knight, who was 1 1/4 lengths behind in second and a head in front of Sir Michael Stoute’s Ulysses in third.

“Highland Reel is a brilliant horse, and Ryan gave him a brilliant ride,” said O’Brien. “Pace, courage, tactical speed, he has everything. He was back to a mile and a 1/4 today, and we know he gets a mile and a 1/2 well, but was a very good Group 2 winner over 7 furlongs as a 2-year-old. He always had that pace. A big credit and well done must go to everybody at home that is involved with him.”

Highland Reel took his career earnings to £5.97 million ($7.56 million) with the victory, while for O’Brien, it was his 300th Group or Grade success on both flats and jumps. The master of Ballydoyle was effusive in his praise of the horse.

“He has been racing at the top level for the last few years and is just amazing,” said O’Brien. “We always thought the world of him because he has always been a natural, brilliant athlete. Sometimes he gets beat, but if the pace is strong and if it comes anywhere near courage, then he will be there fighting. He has danced every dance. He has an awful lot of tactical speed, and that is a huge asset to have in a horse. I’m not sure we have ever had a horse with the constitution that he has.

“He is like his sire, Galileo, because he also had so much courage, and he has passed it on to Highland Reel ten-fold.”

Jack Hobbs defeated Highland Reel and five others in the Grade 1 Sheema at Meydan Racecourse on March 25, Dubai World Cup night. The rematch here, however, did not result in any of the anticipated drama, and the 3/2 favorite finished last in the field of eight after failing to keep up with the pace set by Decorating Knight and Highland Reel.

“He (Highland Reel) has never lacked pace, so we were hoping today over this distance that courage would come into it,” said O’Briend. “He is tactically very quick and unbelievably courageous. He has passed every test that you would want a thoroughbred to go through. His first Group race was as a 2-year-old, and we have toured the world with him since then. Every time he turns up in big races over a mile, 10 furlongs and 12 furlongs, he has a great mind and has passed all the tests everywhere he goes.

O’Brien suggested that a return to Ascot for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO), a race which Highland Reel won last year, could be next on the agenda.

“The plan was to come here for this race, and then come back to Ascot again for the King George,” said O’Brien. “We’ll see what the lads want to do, but that was what we were thinking.”

Reflecting on reaching 300 Group and Grade One victories, O’Brien said, “We are a small part in a massive team. It’s all pure teamwork by all the people involved in this process. It’s a huge chain of people involved, and we feel privileged to be a part of it. The lads make it happen, and we are so grateful to them for helping guide us along.”

“We are lucky to have a horse like him,” said Tom Magnier, son of partial joint owners John and Sue Magnier. “He is tough and run some great races, and today’s victory is one of his best. Some people might have thought that 10 furlongs was a little bit short for him, but he has a lot of fight and he showed that today. Ryan gave him a fantastic ride and they didn’t give up on each other – it was a great result. It was a great race, and that is what everyone comes here to see, but when you’ve got Ryan Moore on board, that is an advantage, and Highland Reel just keeps finding. He has a fantastic temperament and he doesn’t give up. The King George would be a great race for him, but we will first take him home and see from there.”

G3 Jersey Stakes

The 2/1 favorite Le Brivido captured the Group 3 Jersey Stakes, opening race of day two of the 2017 Royal Meeting, by a neck from 66/1 longshot Spirit Of Valor.

The 3-year-old Siyouni colt became the ninth Royal Ascot winner for trainer Andre Fabre, the first for jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot, and the first French success of the week.

G2 Queen Mary Stakes

Heartache bolted home to take the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths from American-trained Happy Like A Fool, the odds-on 10/11 favorite.

Heartache, a 2-year-old daughter of Kyllachy, was trained by Clive Cox and ridden by Adam Kirby. She was sent off at odds of 5/1.

G2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes

The Jean Claude-Rouget-trained Qemah (5/2 favorite) registered consecutive victories at Royal Ascot with a game success in the Group 2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes.

Winner of the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at last year’s Royal Meeting, the 4-year-old daughter of Danehill Dancer travelled beautifully throughout the mile event and quickened up nicely under Gregory Benoist to register a 3/4-length success over 40/1 shot Aljazzi, trained by Marco Botti. Andre Fabre’s Usherette was a neck behind in third.

Royal Hunt Cup

Zhui Feng, trained by Amanda Perrett and ridden by Martin Dwyer, wired the field to take the highly-competitive Royal Hunt Cup at 25/1.

Owned by John Connolly and Odile Griffith, Zhui Feng finished 1/2 a length in front of Blair House. In third, beaten a neck, was Tashweeq, while Ballet Concerto took fourth.

Listed Sandringham Handicap

Jockey Jamie Spencer and trainer Wesley Ward teamed up with the American-trained Con Te Partiro to take the closing race, the Listed Sandringham Handicap, from Ryan Moore and Rain Goddess, who finished 1 1/4 lengths behind in second.

It was the 23rd Royal Ascot success for Spencer, while it was the American trainer’s ninth total and second of the 2017 meeting so far.

“I was cursing that poor Jamie Spencer all through the first part of the race, wondering what he was doing,” Ward said afterward. “I can’t tell you all the dirty names I was calling him, but I was pleased with him at the end. He sure did have the magic at the end. It was a fantastic ride. He did it all on his own, no instructions, he took upon himself to do that. That was crazy.

“(Con Te Partiro)’s got some antics to her and I thought he’d be the right man for the job, and he was. He worked her the other day, and I told him her running style is to come from behind.

“I’ll talk it over with the owners and see what they want to do next, but I’m really excited – she was unbelievable.”

Source: Ascot Racecourse

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