Think too strong for Ascot rivals
Aidan O'Brien's So You Think recorded his 10th top-class victory in the 150th Anniversary of Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The former Australian superstar suffered a shock odds-on reverse in this 10-furlong prize 12 months ago, but he got the job done in fine style on this occasion. Always travelling strongly in the hands of the trainer's son, Joseph, the six-year-old (4-5 favourite) looked likely to run out an easy winner when cruising to the front halfway up the home straight.
The Queen's Carlton House emerged on the far rail to launch a serious challenge, but So You Think saw him off, asserting close home to score by two and a quarter lengths. Carlton House just held on to the runner-up spot from Farhh, who finished as well as anything having encountered traffic problems in the straight.
While So You Think may not have taken the European scene by storm quite as anticipated since joining O'Brien last year, this was still his fifth top-level triumph for his current connections. He had suffered defeats in the Breeders' Cup Classic and the Dubai World Cup on artificial surfaces, but he warmed up for his return to Ascot with a routine victory in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh.
His young rider sat still in the saddle turning for home before unleashing his mount and he eventually ran out a comfortable winner to give O'Brien junior his first ever Royal Ascot triumph. A victory for the Queen in Jubilee year was not to be on this occasion, but Carlton House ran a perfectly respectable race given he was keen for the first half of the contest.
Farhh was undoubtedly the eyecatcher for the Godolphin team. Taking a huge step up in class from winning a Thirsk handicap, the Pivotal colt finished off his race with purpose, leaving the impression he could well have shaken up the winner with a clearer passage.
O'Brien snr said: "We expected a big run today, we felt like we had him in a place that he was never in before with us, which is incredible. I think we've had him a year and a half and it's taken me that long to learn how to train him. We went back and listened to what everybody was saying about him, listened to what Bart (Cummings, former trainer) was saying and telling us what to do and what not to do. We listened at the end.
"We felt he was in a place today he's never been in before. I was delighted to hear what Bart had to say as he was speaking from the heart and I was probably over-working the horse and galloping the speed out of him instead of letting him be natural. Everyone was of the opinion before we got him that he was all speed but I started off on the wrong leg with him and tried to make him stay a mile and a half and did too much with him.
"We knew we only had a few runs left (before retiring to stud), maybe today and Sandown (Eclipse) to get him back, so we listened to them and Joseph and the lads were confident it was going to come. It will be the boys decision when he goes to stud, but Sandown is in our head as a cut-off point. We'll be pleading hard now that we have him in this place but it's a business decision."
Winning rider O'Brien jnr said: "My horse relaxed lovely and quickened up very well. Ryan (Moore, on Carlton House) got a split on the inside and I just had to come around Johnny (Murtagh, on Big Blue Kitten) but once he could see the horse on his inside he was never going to be beat. I just wanted to get him into a rhythm and get him relaxed, he has loads of class and can quicken and when things work out he's an exceptional horse."