Winter lived up to her 4-9 favoritism in Friday’s Coronation Stakes (Eng-G1) on the penultimate day of racing at the 2017 Royal Ascot meet.
The three-year-old daughter of Galileo bided her time before easily taking command and pulling off for a 2 1/4-lenth victory under jockey Ryan Moore. The duo completed eight furlongs on the good-to-firm turf in 1:39.39 for trainer Aidan O’Brien.
It was back-to-back Group 1 scores for O’Brien and Moore after Caravaggio captured the Commonwealth Cup (Eng-G1) one race prior.
It was also an O’Brien trifecta in the Coronation with trainees Roly Poly and Hydrangea separated by only a neck in second and third, respectively. Following those three were Dabyah, La Coronel, Tomyris and Precieuse.
“(Winter) is doing well and is a big powerful horse now and we are delighted with her,” O’Brien said. “She is a filly that is thriving from race to race. She travelled well – Ryan had her in a lovely position – and she comes home very well, which is a massive thing. She gets the trip really well and is thriving.”
Winter entered the Coronation Stakes off effortless wins in the Irish (Ire-G1) and English (Eng-G1) One Thousand Guineas.
“She is obviously a very good filly to make it happen,” O’Brien said. “She was very good at Newmarket and the Curragh and did it well again here today.
“We might head to the (July 14) Falmouth (Stakes [Eng-G1]) in three weeks’ time (at Newmarket), but we will see how she is as she has had four quick races in not a lot of time.”
“Those three races back-to-back, she’s come a long way in a very short space of time,” Moore said. “It is hard thing to do, win two Guineas and then come here. Attraction was the last to do it and it is very hard.
“She is a very good filly and has beaten some good horses from France and America. It’s a strong piece of form and she is a high-class filly.”
Caravaggio started the O’Brien/Moore Group 1 double with a three-quarter length score in the Commonwealth Cup (Eng-G1) as the 5-6 favorite.
The Scat Daddy sophomore settled in midpack, took over from pacesetter Harry Angel and held that rival to stop the clock in 1:13.49 for six furlongs. Blue Point followed by another half-length while completing the order of finish were Bound for Nowhere, Mr Scarlet, Tis Marvellous, Straight Right, Visionary, Intelligence Cross, Legendary Lunch, Victory Angel and Yalta.
“I think that was a fairly exceptional race and he beat two very good horses,” Moore said. “There’s quite a headwind and it has been hard to make up ground today and yesterday. They made him work, but he picked them up well in the end.”
Caravaggio is now unbeaten in six lifetime starts, including wins in the Phoenix Stakes (Ire-G1) last year and the Lacken Stakes (Ire-G3), which began his three-year-old campaign on May 21.
“I’m delighted, we were treating it as a second stage race as he had a lovely race at Naas when he won last time,” O’Brien said. “He was racing against three-year-olds again today and after that, we thought he would be stepping up against older horses.
“He was just ready for his next step today. The lads have a plan in their mind that he might go to Australia for the (October 14) Everest ([Aus-G1] at Randwick), so we have to be very conscious now if we want him to last for the autumn.
“I was very nervous today as he was just ready to come through today, so I’m delighted that it all went well.”
One race earlier, the Mark Johnston-trained Permian prevailed by a half-length in the King Edward VII Stakes (Eng-G2) under jockey William Buick.
The bay sophomore could do no better than 10th in the Epsom Derby (Eng-G1) last out on June 3, but rebounded here to complete 1 1/2 miles in 2:30.10. Khalidi, who was 14th in the Epsom Derby most recently, filled the second spot on Friday, 1 1/4 lengths in front of 9-4 favorite Crystal Ocean.
Next under the line were Raheen House, Glencadam Glory, Call to Mind, Salouen, Frankuus, Sir John Lavery, Best Solution, Intern and Best of Days.
Permian scored a pair of wins before his Epsom Derby try, including the Dante Stakes (Eng-G2) at Newmarket. The Teofilo colt is now 12-6-2-2 in his career.
“I’m enormously pleased with him,” Johnston said. “The Dante is a great race and going to the Derby with a Dante winner, you obviously go there with high hopes. We were fairly sure it wasn’t his running in the Derby and we took a gamble coming here but it paid off.
“There was disappointment in his Derby run as a lot of people said don’t come and try again here at Royal Ascot, so I had a lot of days thinking over that – it was only a late decision.”
“Mark gave me a lot of confidence before the race in the sense that he just wanted this horse to go forward and get across,” Buick explained. “He wanted me to go forward without asking the horse too much and Permian did exactly that.
“I know Mark and the team were surprised how badly he ran in the Derby and I wasn’t any help because I had no explanation really. He certainly felt like a much better horse today. It was a good performance.”
Stradivarius earned a shot at the St Leger (Eng-G1) at Doncaster in September with a gutsy neck victory in the Queen’s Vase Stakes (Eng-G2) under jockey Andrea Atzeni.
The John Gosden charge rallied strongly in the stretch, grabbed control from Count Octave and then held that rival to finish 1 3/4-mile affair in 3:01.57. The sophomore son of Sea the Stars was sent off at 11-2.
Secret Advisor finished another two lengths back in third and was followed under the wire by 5-1 favorite Belgravia, Time to Study, Desert Skyline, Mister Manduro, Face the Facts, Alqamar, Night of Glory, Haripour, Wisconsin and Fierce Impact.
Stradivarius entered this spot off a second in a handicap at Chester and now shows a 6-3-1-0 career record.
“There is not a lot of him and I didn’t want to give him another run between Chester and Ascot as I wanted to come here fresh and the plan has worked,” Gosden said. “I’ve always said, if you run round Chester it is like having three races so you learn a lot and he is still learning and still green.
“He has run great, he got a beautiful ride and managed to get from stall 9 to the rail before getting through a gap at the end.
“He has run a grand race getting through at the end and he has enjoyed it. He enjoyed the distance and all being well, we will point him to the St Leger,” Gosden added. “I think he might just have one more run before the St Leger. I want to keep him fresh and he is a light-framed horse. He doesn’t need over-racing so he can just have a prep run and then go.”
“The horse is still learning, he hasn’t got much experience, and in fact was hanging into the rail most of the way,” Atzeni remarked. “He will get better as the year goes on as he is still learning, and is an immature horse.”
Different League upset the Albany Stakes (Eng-G3) to begin Friday’s Royal Ascot action, leading all the way to score by a neck over 2-1 favorite Alpha Centauri. The French-bred juvenile daughter of Dabirsim was sent off at 20-1 and ran six furlongs in 1:14.60.
Alpha Centauri had three lengths to spare on Mistress of Venice in third, who was followed by Madeline, Actress, Clemmie, Snowflakes, Miss Bar Beach, Princess Peggy, Black Sails, Fairyland, Starlight Mystery, Natural, Jo’s Girl, Ertiyad, Whitefountainfairy, Electric Landlady, Summer Shamal and Armum.
Different League is now three-for-three in her career after capturing her first two starts in France.
“I was a little worried as she jumped out, but she has a great temperament and is very professional,” trainer Matthieu Palussiere said. “After two or three furlongs I was confident – the jockey knows her well.
“Her first start was just an educational, but her performance at Angers on her second start was exceptional. We were always going to come here for this.
“It means everything to me, I have always wanted to win a big one in England – at Royal Ascot or Cheltenham as I have a few jumpers too,” Palussiere added.
Jockey Antoine Hamelin earned both his first win in Britain and at the Royal Meeting when guiding Different League in the Albany.
“It was a very good performance and it is a great feeling. I love this filly and all is good for the team today. The track is good and the distance, it’s great,” Hamelin said. “It’s amazing to win here and get my first victory at Royal Ascot. It’s perfect, a dream for me.”
Wrapping up the penultimate day of racing of the 2017 Royal Ascot meet, Rare Rhythm upset the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap at 20-1 with jockey William Buick aboard.
The Charlie Appleby-trained Dubawi gelding returned off a 12-month absence brought on by a small tissue injury. Rare Rhythm’s last race came in this same contest one year ago, where he finished eighth.
This time around the five-year-old was 2 1/4 lengths clear of Appeared on the wire while finishing 1 1/2 miles in 2:31.15. Completing the order under the line were Star Storm, Top Tug, Sixties Groove, Mainstream, Lustrous Light, Red Galileo, Mistiroc, Eddystone Rock, Shabeeb, Soldier in Action, Baydar, Manjaam, Master Carpenter, 4-1 favorite Wadigor, Cape Cova, Oasis Fantasy and Petite Jack.
“He has been off a long time, but we knew we had got him right,” Appleby said. “I was confident coming into this race last year coming off another layoff but it didn’t pan out for us as it was a bit of a messy race. He met with a soft tissue injury and it knocked us out of running him in the November Handicap at Doncaster last year.
“He has twice been to Chelmsford for a gallop and he has also been gelded which has helped him get fitter. It was a great performance from the team and it is a big team effort – these are the days we are all here for, we haven’t thought of any races for him beyond this stage.”
“(Rare Rhythm) has always had the engine but he got gelded and it’s ended up lighting the horse up a little bit. He just seems more athletic after it,” Buick added. “He was fit and well coming in to the race and they didn’t go an awfully strong gallop either so I suppose we were in the right place. It’s a hard place to go from the front and win round here but it worked out nicely today and he won well in the end, so he was probably a very deserved winner.”