Ryan Moore left nothing to chance, with an all-the-way success on Highland Reel in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Ballydoyle’s globetrotting colt continues to improve at a rate of knots, and always looked to have the Group 1 in safe-keeping. The Epsom Derby fourth, Wings of Desire, came home in second place with Dartmouth four lengths back in third. Moore’s mount was emphatically reversing the placing’s from the Hardwicke Stakes a month earlier, and the winner is now likely to be back on his travels in search of further top level success.
“He is a straightforward horse who runs a mile and a half well and loves fast ground,” said Moore after Saturday’s victory. “He is slightly underrated because he won in Hong Kong and beat a very good horse that day. He made it easy for me. He was very comfortable and when he felt Wings of Desire come to him and I got stuck into him he found plenty.”
Aidan O'Brien was winning the prestigious event for the fourth time, and said of the winner: “He had a lovely run here in the Hardwicke and we were delighted with him at home. He has pace and loves fast ground but he went in soft ground at Royal Ascot. We were over the moon with his run that day. He is a horse that can go anywhere from a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half.”
The trainer added: “We knew he didn't mind making the running. If he is left in front, he is happy. The horse has been progressing all the time and we couldn't be happier. Ryan gave him a beautiful ride. This is an incredible horse. As everyone knows, he travels the world and he's getting better, which is amazing. Physically, the development is plain and, mentally, he's a rock. He can go back to Australia, he can do Japan, Hong Kong and there's the Breeders' Cup Turf. He's an amazing horse and has so many options.”
The runner-up appeared to appreciate a fast surface, but also probably found the track more to his liking than Epsom. His trainer John Gosden was thrilled with the performance, saying: “Our horse ran a really good race. He held up the three-year-old form well and he is still learning. It was only the fifth race of his life and his fifth this year. I have nothing in mind at the moment. He is in the Juddmonte International and the St Leger. He is entered well. I am glad we ran here instead of the Grand Prix de Paris.”
The colt won the Dante Stakes at York earlier in the season, and a return to the track for the Juddmonte would come as no surprise, assuming he recovers well from Saturday’s exertions.
Plans appear less certain with Dartmouth, though the Queen’s horse would also prove a popular attraction overseas. A trip to Australia or to America for the Breeders’ Cup is by no means out of the question.
The Queen's racing adviser John Warren, refused to speculate, instead he reflected on Saturday’s run, saying: “We are so thrilled that he ran a fantastic and genuine race. When we thought he was going to be swallowed up he stuck his head out. Olivier Peslier said he was on the wrong leg turning into the straight and it took him a moment to get organised but once he got organised and into gear he stuck his head down and ran a gallant race. We are genuinely thrilled.”
French raider Erupt proved something of a disappointment, fading late on to finish fifth. He lost two places in the final furlong, and it’s possible that a fast-run 10 furlongs is actually his optimum.