Sole Power streaks home to defend King’s Stand at Royal Ascot
Kingman too good for old rival Night Of Thunder in the St James’s Palace Stakes
Sole Power ridden by Richard Hughes stretches away from the field to win the King’s Stand Stakes during day one of Royal Ascot. Photograph: David Davies/PA
Sole Power’s devastating acceleration came to the fore once again as the brilliant sprinter secured back-to-back victories in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The seven-year-old was delivered to take the five-furlong Group One right on the line by Johnny Murtagh in a pulsating finish 12 months ago and Richard Hughes was the man in the saddle this time around, partnering Eddie Lynam’s speedball for the first time.
Hughes rode a typically patient race and it was clear Sole Power (5 to 1) was still full of running entering the closing stages.
Once unleashed on the far side of the track, the response was immediate as he quickened up fantastically to run to the lead and settle matters in a few strides.
Front-running outsider Stepper Point was a length and a quarter away in second, with heavily-supported favourite Hot Streak a neck further back in third.
With Murtagh now retired and Ryan Moore, who has ridden Sole Power on his first three starts this year required for Aidan O’Brien, Lynam moved to snap up the services of Hughes earlier this week.
The winner was among the leading contenders having shown his well-being with victory in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket in early May, but few could have expected such an authoritative victory.
Hughes deliberately took his mount back when the stalls opened and appeared confident he had all bases covered at all times.
His potent turn of foot took him clear in the final strides and he was ultimately well on top at the line.
Stepper Point (50 to 1) showed blistering pace from the off and turned in an excellent effort.
Hot Streak looked a three-year-old destined for the top of the sprinting ranks when taking the Temple Stakes at Haydock last month and although he came up short, Kevin Ryan’s pride and joy was far from disgraced and there will be another day for the youngster.
Kingman proved much too good for old rival Night Of Thunder with a scintillating display in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
The John Gosden-trained Kingman was a hot favourite for the Qipco 2000 Guineas after blowing away Richard Hannon’s Night Of Thunder in the Greenham Stakes, but the latter turned the form around with a 40 to 1 victory on the Rowley Mile.
With Kingman having since taken the Irish 2,000 Guineas, he was a heavily supported 8 to 11 market leader for the third clash and was settled towards the rear by James Doyle while Richard Hughes set out to make all the running aboard Night Of Thunder.
Just for a fleeting moment it appeared Kingman might struggle to reel in the leader turning into the home straight, but Doyle cut a confident figure throughout and once asked to extend his mount made up the ground in a matter of strides.
He began to hang towards the rail in the last half-furlong, but it made no difference to the result, with the odds-on shot passing the post two and a quarter lengths ahead.
Night Of Thunder ran a perfectly respectable race in second, but was no match for the winner on the day.
Outstrip bounced back from his disappointing Newmarket effort to finish third.
Doyle said: “That was awesome, that’s the best way to describe it. It’s almost as if they can’t go quick enough for him, even when you go you feel like you’ve gone too soon.
“He’s got so much pace, he’s almost climbing over the back of them wanting them to go quicker.
“I’m just very lucky to be sat on his back, I can’t thank Prince Khalid (Abdullah) enough for giving me this opportunity.
“Nothing changed my opinion of him being the best three-year-old and we can forget the Guineas now – just look at that.
“I’ll probably get a bit of stick for that (putting his finger to his lips on passing the post), I probably shouldn’t have done it but I let myself go.”
Domination finished with a wet sail to claim the Ascot Stakes for Irish trainer-jockey combination Charles Byrnes and Fran Berry.
The versatile seven-year-old has won on the Flat, over hurdles and over fences during the last couple of years, showing a preference for fast ground on a number of occasions.
Berry sensibly played the waiting game in this stamina-sapping two-and-a-half-mile contest and still had only a couple of rivals behind him as he prepared to round the sweeping bend of home.
He was brought wide to challenge in the straight and began to make up ground hand over fist inside the final two furlongs.
Domination (12 to 1) swept to the lead passing the furlong marker and galloped all the way to the line to take top honours by two and a half lengths from Another Cocktail.
Sizzler and Sohar were third and fourth respectively.
Berry said: “I had to ride him like that more by accident than design, he walked out of the stalls and they went quick. That made my mind up for me.”
Byrnes said: “He’s my first ever runner (at Royal Ascot). He probably should have run in this last year. Fran spoke to me about this race two years ago but I didn’t take any notice but he (Berry) went and won it last year anyway (on Well Sharp for Jonjo O’Neill).
“He was slow away and lost two or three lengths and Fran decided to let it all happen in front of him
“It was a fantastic ride, he just had one crack at them.
“He’s in the Queen Alexandra on Saturday but maybe Goodwood next.”