Clive Cox and Adam Kirby continue to create headlines as a dream Royal Ascot continued yesterday with success for the pair in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
My Dream Boat caused something of an upset when getting up in the shadow of the post to defeat Ballydoyle’s Found, with the Japanese short-priced favourite A Shin Hikari last of the six starters. The winner was turning Chantilly form on its head, when he had been battered by Japan’s latest star in one of the summer’s most startling performances.
Despite conditions set to favour A Shin Hikari, he failed to dazzle this time round, and as the field turned for home it soon became clear that he was a sitting duck in front, as first Western Hymn came alongside and then Ryan Moore on Found swept past. Moore’s move had looked decisive, but My Dream Boat, hanging to his left, gradually closed the gap, getting on top in the final strides.
The four-year-old had been sent off a 16/1 outsider on the back of his Chantilly display, despite having previously beaten Western Hymn in the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown. That victory mirrored in style this latest success, and though the winner may lack gears, he is a relentless galloper with an admirable battling attitude.
Cox was clearly thrilled in capturing his second Group 1 in two days, saying: “He looked special when he won the Gordon Richards, but when we took him to France he was tracked back in the field and things didn't go quite right. He got into a nice rhythm and I'm very proud of him. Adam's riding out of his skin at the minute. Professionally and personally he's on a high. The horses are running amazingly. It feels like a dream.”
Kirby, once again leaving the feeding and nappy changing duties to his ‘better half’ said: “I was pretty confident he'd be in the first three. The race went perfect. He gave me a real good feel when he won two starts ago but he was a bit free last time and didn't get home. Full credit to the horse, he stayed at it. It was a very gutsy performance.”
The victory was a first Group 1 for owners Paul and Clare Rooney, better known for their exploits over the jumps. Back in April the pair had almost won the Grand National with the Kim Bailey trained The Last Samuri. When interviewed yesterday, immediately after their stunning Royal Ascot success, the pair looked completely overwhelmed, before Clare composed herself enough to say: “It’s just unbelievable, I’m still shaking.”
For Cox and his team at Beechdown Stables, winning Group 1s at major meetings is nothing new. Lethal Force was a star for the yard back in 2013, and he followed Reckless Abandon who won a pair of Group 1s as a juvenile. Training since 1999, this period of success is fast becoming one of his most memorable, with Profitable looking hard to beat over the minimum trip, and the likes of Zonderland, Kodi Bear and now My Dream Boat all capable of further success as the year progresses.
Cox was assistant trainer to Mikey Heaton Ellis and took over at Barbury Castle when Ellis died in 1999. He then moved to John Francome’s Beechdown Stables, on the edge of Lambourn in 2000.
The yard continues to thrive year on year, with Cox and Kirby now a double act capable of mixing it with the very best.