Yesterday’s running of the famous Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (5f) proved virtually a carbon copy of last year with the Charlie Appleby-trained Blue Point fending off a sustained challenge from Battaash in a thrilling finish to claim the 500,000 pound first prize.
The winning margin was a length and three quarters in 2018 and while Battaash narrowed the deficit to a length and a quarter this time around, it was the Godolphin-raced son of Shamardal who once again proved a tough nut to crack on this stiff straight track, boosting his record to four wins from five starts at Ascot.
Neither the Toby Edmonds-trained Houtzen or Michael Pitman’s Enzo’s Lad could make any impression, finishing eighth and 11th respectively, although the former dipped onto her nose coming out of the stalls, while she subsequently led a group of two towards the stand-side as Soldier’s Call towed along the remainder of the 12-strong field down the centre of the course.
However, excellence came to the fore in the closing stages as Battaash made his challenge under Jim Crowley, but he could muster no extra close home as Blue Point, ridden by James Doyle, secured his third top-tier success, adding to earlier victories in last year’s renewal and the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (1200m) at Meydan earlier this year.
The ground was the undoing of Enzo’s Lad according to his trainer. The son of Testa Rossa looks set to bypass a quick return to the track in Saturday’s Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (6f) and instead wait for the Group 1 July Cup (6f) at Newmarket next month.
“The track was too wet for him – he’s a firm track horse,” Pitman said.
“When I walked out into the parade ring before the race I knew we were in trouble.
“I’m not making excuses as he wasn’t good enough on the day, but he’s a wet-track duffer and we’ve probably been a bit unlucky to get the wettest opening day in 20 years.
“At this stage, we’re looking likely to bypass Saturday and wait for the July Cup given more rain has fallen since the race.”