Coroebus was made to pull out all the stops to supplement his 2000 Guineas triumph with victory in a thrilling renewal of the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The Dubawi colt narrowly denied esteemed stablemate Native Trail when providing trainer Charlie Appleby with a first victory in the colts’ Classic on the Rowley Mile.
And with Native Trail having since bounced back to winning ways in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, Coroebus was unsurprisingly cramped odds to double his tally for the season as the 10-11 favourite.
Drawn low in stall two, the fear beforehand was whether the three-year-old would get boxed in behind the pacemakers – and for a moment turning in his supporters would have been sweating.
But the gap came for William Buick’s mount against the far rail with a furlong and a half to run, at which stage it looked like he would pick up and win comfortably.
However, Lusail refused to go down without a fight and My Prospero and Mighty Ulysses were both in there pitching to set up a grandstand finish.
In the end Coroebus found just enough for pressure to hold on by a head from Lusail, with My Prospero third and Maljoom coming from the clouds to finish a close-up fourth after being denied a clear run.
Appleby said: “The key thing today and I said to William, ‘just get that position and don’t lose it’.
“Therefore he was always just having to keep the revs under him and in doing so the horse got keener and keener, I just think it paid in the last 100 yards.
“If we want to roll it back to his two-year-old career in the Royal Lodge, he shot clear and paid in those last few yards; you’ve got to sit and you’ve to count to 10 and wait and William gave him a fantastic ride around there. It is the reason why he probably wasn’t winning as impressively as you might like to have seen.
“It is going to be a big learning curve for him today, I was delighted with how he took it in the preliminaries – he has never been more than 20 minutes up the road out of Newmarket and those challenges have been put upon him and he has ticked the boxes.”
On future plans, Appleby raised the prospect of a mouthwatering clash with unbeaten Queen Anne hero Baaeed.
He said: “The Sussex Stakes is a race that we have spoken about beforehand, that we’d potentially like to see Coroebus take on Baaeed. It is always a fantastic race, isn’t it? The Sussex Stakes – the older horses and the three-year-olds taking each other on, and we were confident (beforehand) that we’d hopefully be doing that on the back of today. I think that is still very much in the conversation.
“As always we’ll let the dust settle, and the discussions with His Highness (Sheikh Mohammed) and the team and we’ll firm those plans up. On the evidence of what I have seen today he deserves to be there for sure.
“Baaeed was a very impressive winner, taking nothing away from him, but this was just our horse’s fifth start of his career, and I thought it was a gutsy performance in a race that probably wasn’t run particularly to suit us.”
Expanding further, Appleby said: “He will be taking on the older horses now. You can sit back and say it wasn’t a good Guineas or a good Derby, but I always say try to get one in a trial and then win a Classic and win one beyond. This horse has achieved that. It is a fantastic result for Sheikh Mohammed and team Godolphin.
“It is lovely to see the Classic generation in good shape for the rest of the season. Full credit to the horse, but also credit to William, he is a brave man to go out there and do that on a horse who, in an ideal world, he would like to sit a bit more chilly on.
“In future, against the older horses, we are going to have to be braver and hold him up for sure, because we have seen it. We saw that in the Guineas. He is better held up off a stronger pace.
“I’m not going to make comparisons with Dubawi, but he can only improve. What we are seeing is raw stuff. Baaeed is a fantastic horse, but it will be some race, anyway.”
Richard Hannon said of the runner-up Lusail: “Delighted. He confirmed his run of the Guineas, which we thought was an extremely good run. I think we have been proved right here.
“A lot of people thought he would run well at his price and a lot of people thought we should be going for the Jersey. But he has won Group Twos and he has run, not necessarily the race of his life, but he has put his name emblazoned on a Group One and one will fall his way before the end of the year. We are extremely proud of him.
“There are loads of options. There is the Sussex, the Jacques le Marois, we kind of have to get on with it now, as he likes this ground.”
William Haggas saddled both My Prospero and the unfortunate Maljoom.
He said: “My Prospero ran a great race. He just wants further and he just doesn’t have the gears. Tom (Marquand) said he is just not quite there yet. He is going to be a very good horse.
“Poor Cieren (Fallon, rider of Maljoom) is absolutely distraught. He mustn’t think like that. It is just the way it is. It is a horse race and he finished very well and he would have won in probably two strides – but he didn’t. There you are.
“When you are slow away and he got in behind, then had two horses falling back on him, what do you do? It is a shame, we had an opportunity, but that is the way it is. We will keep him going and maybe there will better luck next year.”