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ASCOT, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND – Trainer Aidan O’Brien wouldn’t let Day 3 of the Royal Ascot meet end without putting his stamp on it in some form, and he couldn’t have done much better than when a trio of his runners, led by South Pacific, finished 1-2-3 in Thursday’s King George V Handicap.
Breaking from post 14 under Seamie Heffernan at 40/1 stateside odds, South Pacific lingered toward the rear for the early running while Babbo’s Boy and Sir Ron Priestley took turns leading on the front end. Still trailing but beginning to make up ground as he rounded the far turn, South Pacific tipped out to run eight-wide down the middle of the lane.
Majestic Dawn was the first to usurp the lead in the stretch, but he soon had to contend with the O’Brien runner Constantinople, who quickly took command with 2 furlongs remaining. Gobbling up ground down the middle came South Pacific under a full head of steam, and in the shadow of the wire, he was able to hit the wire the best of all by a neck in a final time of 2:32.79 for the 1 1/2-mile event.
“I wasn’t always confident that I was going to get there but, in fairness to the horse, he dug deep,” Heffernan said. “Aidan trains them all for this week, but you never really know what the ground is going to be like or the draw. They all come here with a big chance – some of the favorites get beat and some of them win. I am very privileged to be in these colours and it’s a pleasure riding these horses. Some of them are a work in progress; some of them have proven that they are on the way down. Here are a couple who are on the way up.”
After fighting through traffic trouble in midstretch, Eminence was able to join his stablemates to complete the top three placings. Persian Moon was a neck behind him in fourth. The rest of the field crossed thusly: Almania, Severance, Majestic Dawn, Sinjaari, Fox Premier, Good Birthday, Antilles, Summer Moon, Sir Ron Priestley, Questionare, Babbo’s Boy, and Kuwait Currency.
South Pacific’s win was the second of his career and improved his overall record to 8-2-4-0. The 3-year-old son of Galileo was purchased as a yearling for $1,176,200 by the Coolmore group of Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith.
“He is progressing with every run and I think he will get further than a mile and 1/2 in time,” O’Brien said. “Constantinople is a lovely horse. He is only a baby. For him to do that with top-weight, we could not be happier, and Eminence is another big horse who ran well and is still progressing. They ran off nice marks all three of them and they will continue to progress. We can probably keep them to handicap company for the time and see how they continue to develop.”
South Pacific returned $85.60 to win and $11.80 to place, Constantinople brought back $3 to place, Eminence paid $14.60 to place, and Persian Moon paid $14 to place.
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