For the second consecutive year, the Wesley Ward trained Lady Aurelia lit up Royal Ascot with a devastating display of pure speed to win the King's Stand Stakes by three lengths. With Frankie Dettori sidelined for the week with injury, Johnny Velaquez took over the reins but the result was the same as she powered away from last year's winner Profitable with Marsha back in third. Sir Mark Prescott's mare ran well enough but she didn't travel as well as she had done at Newmarket last time. Plus, she was facing a near impossible task conceding six pounds to the winner.
Barney Roy turned the tables on Churchill in the St James's Palace Stakes. Kept fresh since chasing home that rival on the Rowley Mile in the 2000 Guineas, Richard Hannon's charge showed a sharp turn of foot to collar another O'Brien runner Lancaster Bomber. There is no doubt the dual Guineas winner Churchill was below par failing to pick up from the two marker. Perhaps his win at the Curragh in slow ground had left its mark.
The meeting got underway in traditional fashion with the Queen Anne Stakes and it went the way of short price favourite Ribchester. Richard Fahey's four year old was winning his second Group 1 of the year following his win in the Lockinge Stakes. My selection in the Royal Ascot Update Mutakayyef ran a cracker in second but not for the first time in his career, one can't help feeling it was a missed opportunity. The six year old travelled strongly under Jim Crowley but it is questionable why his rider tried to beat Ribchester for a turn of foot. Surely, he would have been better suited committing him sooner - he was placed in last year's Juddmonte International over ten furlongs. The winner won last year's Jersey Stakes over seven furlongs.
In fact, it proved a frustrating day for William Haggas with him, Headway and Muthmir all running superb races without winning. I am heading to the Royal meeting tomorrow and then working at Haydock on Saturday evening so I will update the Diary on Sunday.
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