Ryan Moore was at his brilliant best as he made all on Highland Reel in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot today.
In the process Moore was achieving his sixth win in this year’s QIPCO British Champions Series. No jockey has managed more since the Series was launched in 2011 – the only other jockey to manage so many wins in a year being Tom Queally.
The exploits of Frankel helped Queally achieve his half-dozen, in 2012, so perhaps it was fitting the great horse should have his first Group winner as a sire on the same Ascot card.
Highland Reel was providing trainer Aidan O’Brien with a fourth victory in the King George.
The master of Ballydoyle had previously won the midsummer showpiece with Galileo (2001), Dylan Thomas (2007) and Duke Of Marmalade (2008) and his latest hope was a well-backed 13-8 favourite to follow suit in the Berkshire sunshine.
The four-year-old had proven himself at the highest level abroad in 2015, running well in the Cox Plate in Australia before winning the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington and the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin.
He was narrowly beaten by the reopposing Dartmouth in the Hardwicke Stakes at last month’s Royal meeting, but gained his revenge in some style as Moore executed his tactics to perfection.
The three-times champion jockey was in no mood to hang around, sending his mount into a clear lead racing down the back straight before giving him a breather, which allowed the chasing pack to bridge the gap.
Highland Reel remained in front turning for home, however, and answered Moore’s every call to score by a length and a quarter from Wings Of Desire.
O’Brien did not commit to future targets, but his charge is highly likely to be on his travels once more before the year is out.
“He had a lovely run here in the Hardwicke and we were delighted with him at home,” said the trainer. 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.”
Dante winner and Derby fourth Wings Of Desire was the only three-year-old in the field and ran an excellent race to fill the runner-up spot.
Hugo Lascelles, racing manager to owner-breeder Lady Bamford, said: “We might look at the Juddmonte International (York) or the Prix Niel (Chantilly) and we can think of the Breeders’ Cup at the end of the year as well.
“He will remain in training next year.”
Having already provided the Queen with a Royal Ascot winner in the year of her 90th birthday, Dartmouth was bidding to become the first horse since Aureole in 1954 to carry the royal colours to King George glory.
Olivier Peslier rode a patient race and while his mount came home strongly to pick up minor honours in third, it was all too late.
The Queen’s racing manager John Warren said: “I’ve a notion that he might be an international traveller.
“He loves that fast ground so there is the Breeders’ Cup, Australia and Japan.
“We will talk it through and as long as The Queen is happy to travel with him, we will see where we go.