Ascot really did prove a happy hunting ground for Godolphin this weekend – the Newmarket-based operation pulled off an impressive victory in the midsummer showpiece, the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes on Saturday, as Doyen came dashing home under Frankie Dettori to beat the rest of the field by three lengths.
“This was the easiest King George winner I have ridden,” Dettori declared.
Doyen was widely believed to have the class to win this race, a belief strengthened by his convincing win in the Hardwicke Stakes at Ascot last month.
And on Saturday, from his acceptance of his jockey’s steadying hands early on, to his surge forward in response to Dettori’s request for more in the final straight, linked by his smooth travelling in between, the four-year-old colt proved himself to possess true star quality.
This has been Doyen’s best season to date, and he has shown continual improvement, leading connections to indicate that he may well stay in training next season (providing the breeding contingent of the Godolphin operation can be kept at bay). He is likely to be aimed at the Irish Champion Stakes next.
“The sky is now the limit,” said Sheikh Mohammed. “We will take him all over Europe and America, which means the Arc and the Breeders’ Cup Turf. He is a very special horse.”
Simon Crisford, Godolphin’s racing manager was eager to stress that this win signifies yet another huge success for the operation’s campaign this season:
“This has been a wonderful year. We’ve got good older horses that can compete in all the top races and our three-year-olds have been better this season than last year,” he said, adding that “we’ve been placed in all the classics so far with the likes of Rule of Law, Punctilious and Snow Ridge.”
American contender Hard Buck couldn’t match Doyen’s turn of foot, but he held off his rivals for the runner-up spot under Gary Stevens, who is perhaps better known in this country for his part in Seabiscuit.
Warrsan’s jockey Darryl Holland was adamant that the slow pace had hijacked the six-year-old’s chances. “It was a non-event for me,” he said, after coming ninth. “They went no pace and my horse wants a proper end-to-end gallop. It was all very disappointing.”
Fourth-placed Gamut was also thought to have underperformed because of the lack of pace, although there had been serious concerns about the going being too fast beforehand. “It was a combination of lack of pace and the ground being too firm,” said jockey Kieren Fallon.
1. Doyen (Frankie Dettori)
2. Hard Buck (Gary Stevens)
3. Sulamani (Kerrin McEvoy)
4. Gamut (Kieren Fallon