Kew Gardens is set to run in the King George after capping a red-letter day for the Aidan O’Brien team by winning the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp on Saturday evening.
Successful over a mile and three-quarters in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot, Kew Gardens boosted his claims for further middle-distance honours with a solid success returned to a mile and a half.
After being held up in the rear of the field by Ryan Moore in the early stages, Kew Gardens had to knuckle down when challenged strongly by Neufbosc in the final furlong.
Kew Gardens kept on strongly in the closing stages, to give O’Brien and Moore a Group One double following US Navy Flag’s triumph in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket earlier in the day.
Betfair cut the Galileo colt to 6-1 for the King George and 7-2 for the St Leger.
O’Brien told At The Races: “We’re delighted with him, the plan was to come here and then maybe if everything went well we may have a look at the King George.
“We wanted to come back to a mile and a half before we went to the King George, obviously he won over a mile and six in Ascot.
“You couldn’t be happier with him. Ryan took his time on him and rode him for pace. He quickened up well and was brave at the end.
“He’s a very progressive colt, he’s progressed lovely since his last run.”
Dee Ex Bee could not repeat his performance from Epsom, where he was second in the Derby, with Kew Gardens in ninth, but he rallied in the closing stages to finish third for the Mark Johnston stable.
US Navy Flag had earlier bounced back to his very best form when dropped down to six furlongs for the Darley July Cup.
A dual Group One winner as a two-year-old, US Navy Flag had taken in the English and Irish 2000 Guineas, finishing second in the latter, without gracing the winner’s enclosure this season.
But reverted to sprinting, the colt showed his class on his first start against older horses.
Moore had US Navy Flag (8-1) in front from the start and the son of War Front kept up the gallop to land a convincing success, in the process giving the jockey his first July Cup win.
Brando, who delayed the start as he had to be re-plated, went one place better than 12 months ago ins second, with Fleet Review third for the O’Brien team.
O’Brien said: “He won a Middle Park very impressively last year, then we ran him in the Dewhurst and he was able to do that making the running, so we gave him the mile option this year.
“He had tough races in the Classics and had a very tough race in the Curragh. We thought it might leave its mark.
“He went to Ascot and Ryan said to come back in distance with him. We’ve seen what’s happened. He’s a very good horse, to be able to do it that as a three-year-old.
“The plan with him was to come here and if it went well we would give him a rest and train him for the Everest in Australia.
“In all fairness to the horse, he deserves a break. He’s had a tough time.”
Moore said: “He loves Newmarket and ran a mighty race in the Irish Guineas. He’s just a very fast horse and loves a fight – he found plenty when the second came to him.
“I was never worried about the trip, he just needs to have fast ground.”