Power swoops late for Group glory
Brilliant sprinter takes King’s Stand for second year in succession
Richard Hughes is led into the winner’s enclosure at Royal Ascot aboard speedball sprinter Sole Power. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA
stalwart Sole Power conceded nothing in terms of brilliance when recording back-to-back victories in the King’s Stand Stakes.
It was Sole Power’s fourth consecutive appearance in the Group One highlight and a 17th top-flight run in all. But the Eddie Lynam-trained seven-year-old looked better than ever with a devastating last-to-first burst under jockey Richard Hughes.
Oozing confidence from an earlier success on Toronado in the Queen Anne, Hughes vindicated the recommendation of his great friend Johnny Murtagh that he was the perfect fit for Sole Power who has tested the skill of some great jockeys over the years.
“I told Hughsie this horse was made for him,” said the retired Murtagh yesterday. “He just needed to . . . relax him.”
Hughes bows to no one when it comes to patience but reckoned he was eight lengths off the lead at half way and in a race that took just over 58 seconds that would have been curtains for most sprinters. However, Sole Power has always been that little bit different.
“He’s some horse because they can hardly go quick enough for him,” said the winning jockey who could afford to look across at his rivals on the line. “Things didn’t go all right as I had to pull to the outside but I had that much horse under me I could have gone around them anywhere.”
Powerful combination Lynam’s alliance with owner Sabena Power is
one of the most remarkably successful in racing as they also have Slade Power, ante-post favourite for Saturday’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes, who will have the company of his older and more illustrious stable-mate at the weekend.
“He was the best horse in the race. This horse has been lucky because he’s never had a well-known trainer but he’s always had a top-class jockey,” said a modest Lynam. The King’s Stand-Diamond Jubilee double was pulled off by Choisir in 2003.
There was more Irish success in the Ascot Stakes as Fran Berry rode his third winner of the two-mile event when Domination pulled off another late pounce to provide Limerick trainer Charles Byrnes with a first Royal Ascot winner.
“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,” said Byrnes. “He’s in the Queen Alexandra on Saturday but maybe it will be Goodwood next.”
A very different Goodwood objective is on the horizon for Kingman who comprehensively beat his Newmarket Guineas conqueror Night Of Thunder with a supremely stylish display under James Doyle.
Night Of Thunder’s easy lead off a slow pace counted for nothing as Doyle unleashed the Irish Guineas winner on the outside and Kingman shot clear.
“He has fantastic acceleration. I told James, whatever they do, ride him cool. I said the slower they go, fine, because of his turn of foot. And for a young boy he rode him brilliantly,” said trainer John Gosden who nominated Goodwood’s Sussex Stakes, the Marois at Deauville and the QEII back at Ascot as a possible route through the rest of the season.
Doyle’s relief at getting it right on the back of a controversial Newmarket Guineas defeat was clear and the road is now clear for a Sussex clash with the Queen Anne winner Toronado. Bookmakers rate Kingman a 1 to 2 favourite to beat his older rival in match betting.
Gritty Toronado display However, Hughes reckons there is improvement to come from Toronado after a narrow but decisive defeat of Aidan O’Brien’s Verrazanno yesterday that opened up a good day for his Qatari owners who also landed the Coventry with The Wow Signal.
“I felt him blow up but he had a bit of class to get him through,” said the Irish jockey. “I think any horseman in the world looking at him today will believe he is a better horse this year.”
On a black day for bookmakers, the final blow was applied by American raider Hootenanny and an easy Windsor Castle success for California Chrome’s rider, Victor Espinoza.