Ascot’s two Group 1 races today produced some exciting racing. Fast ground and warm conditions made for a decent pace in both races, which proved just too fast for some of the main prospects.
The St James’s Palace Stakes
In the St James’s Palace Stakes, Azamour got his revenge for defeat in both the Newmarket and the Irish 2,000 guineas. The Aga Khan’s colt raced prominently until he pounced in the second furlong from home, and ceased to relent thereafter.
His trainer, John Oxx, was thrilled, but not surprised by the colt’s victory today: “He is a very tough horse and has a great temperament. He stays well, runs to the line well and will probably go a little further. He’s very courageous and genuine and a lovely athlete – he’s got everything really.”
Diamond Green hauled himself up through the pack to finish in second place and maintain his record of defeat over Antonius Pius, who after a brief taste of the lead dropped back to third place.
The most tipped horse for the race, the Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum colt Haafhd managed not to disgrace himself, although having hit the front two furlongs from home, he struggled to quicken and was beaten convincingly. Bachelor Duke who was also a market leader was disappointing. He was set up to make a challenge on the turn, but failed to pick up and finished well back in the field.
The Queen Anne’s Stakes
The second Group 1 race of the day produced an unexpected result, as Refuse to Bend bounced back in glorious style to prove his might in a competitive field, and switch Godolphin’s fortunes.
Frankie Dettori delighted crowds with his trademark flying dismount from the colt, who won the 2,000 guineas at Newmarket last year, since when he has shown disappointing form until now.
“Today he travelled really well. When I pulled him out it took him a bit of time to get going, but once he got into top gear he was always going to win. The horse has got a bit of class and it’s taken time to come,” said Dettori.
Soviet Song ran a cracking race. Quick out of the stalls, she was handily placed throughout, and looked as if she would make history by being the first filly to take the title since 1956, but she was just beaten on the line.
Hot favourite Six Perfections never looked as if she was going to make the grade, and in the end was outclassed in this field. Similarly Norse Dancer, who had begun to look as if he might make some headway two furlongs from home, but he faded disappointingly.
St James’s Palace Stakes
1. Azamour (Mick Kinane)
2. Diamond Green (Gary Stevens)
3. Antonius Pius (Jamie Spencer)
Queen Anne’s Stakes
1. Refuse to Bend (Frankie Dettori)
2. Soviet Song (Johnny Murtagh)
3. Salselon (Darryl Holland)