Caravaggio produced a wonderful combination of speed and stamina to land the third running of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.
Settled in mid-division early on by jockey Ryan Moore under a furious gallop set by Harry Angel in the six-furlong event, the three-year-old son of Scat Daddy stayed on tenaciously in the closing stages to master the front-runner by three-quarters of a length, with Blue Point a further half-length behind in third in a pulsating finish.
Aidan O’Brien, registering his sixth victory in this year’s Champions Series, has always rated Caravaggio highly and he was effusive in his praise of the US-bred colt.
“I’m delighted – we were treating it as a second stage race as he had a lovely race at Naas when he won last time,” he said. “He was racing against three-year-olds again today and after that, we thought he would be stepping up against older horses.
“He was just ready for his next step today. The lads had it in their mind to come here and then maybe somewhere like the July Cup and then somewhere else after that.
“The lads have a plan in their mind that he might go to Australia for the Everest [G1, six furlongs, Randwick Racecourse, October 14, 2017], so we have to be very conscious now if we want him to last for the autumn.
“I was very nervous today as he was just ready to come through today, so I’m delighted that it all went well.”
He added: “He had plenty to do at halfway behind two good horses and he only raced for two and a half-furlongs. He was very relaxed in himself before the race – he was very natural and there was no edge to him. He is a natural free sweater anyway, but I was surprised by how cool he was – he is a very calm horse.
“He is very quick, I would be happier at two furlongs than six furlongs with this fella! He is the fastest horse we have ever had.”
Caravaggio is 6/4 with Betway for the July Cup – another Champions Series race – at Newmarket on July 15 and Moore will relish getting back on him then.
“I think that was a fairly exceptional race and he beat two very good horses,” he said. “There’s quite a headwind and it has been hard to make up ground today and yesterday. They made him work, but he picked them up well in the end.
“I think it was a very good race, they are two very good colts who were leading him. Caravaggio was very good here, it is the first time he has ever been asked a serious question so he was a bit unsure when he got the message, but he’s responded very well. I think there is some more improvement in him.”
Moore’s biggest scare was before the start.”He reared in the stalls before the starter let them go, but soon got into a good rhythm,” he said.
Godolphin runners filled the placings and Clive Cox, trainer of runner-up Harry Angel, said: “It was a great run, a great horse race. He wore his heart on his sleeve a little bit there but when you take the blindfold off them and they jump that quick there’s not a lot you can do about it.
“Adam [Kirby] has given him a great ride and it was a very, very special race.
“We’ll see how he comes back from this race [as to where we go next], but just very pleased with this.