Richard Fahey hailed Ribchester as the best horse he has trained after the Godolphin-owned colt landed the Queen Anne Stakes, the first race of Royal Ascot 2017, in a track record time.
Settled in fifth in the early stages of the mile contest by William Buick under a stern gallop set by Ribchester’s pacemaker Toscanini, the four-year-old son of Iffraaj ran on resolutely when hitting the front over a furlong out to fend off the challenge of William Haggas’ Mutakayyef (5-1), who was a length and a quarter behind in second, with a neck back to Aidan O’Brien’s Deauville (12-1) in third.
Despite taking a slight drift in the market, the 11-10 favourite found plenty for pressure to register his third success at Group One level – and his second QIPCO British Champions Series victory.
“I’m just delighted he has won,” Fahey said. “You can never be confident but everything dropped into place there. He has huge gears and he is never in trouble. He gets the trip and that makes him a good horse
“Ribchester is just an exceptional horse. He has to be the best horse I have ever trained.”
“I was quietly confident that he would win as everything was good with him before the race – I’m in a happy place.
“William doesn’t feel that the tank is empty with him and that he is getting stronger the whole time. Mentally, he is also getting better which is a great attitude to have in a racehorse – he is starting to think he is good.”
Fahey suggested a tilt at the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood is next on the agenda for the colt, who is now 6-5 with Paddy Power for the race.
“The Sussex Stakes is where he has to go really,” he said. “The French race [Prix Jacques Le Marois] which he won last year is only ten days after the Sussex so we can’t go to both. I was always hoping that he would stay further but at the moment, I don’t need to go further.”
Sheikh Mohammed, Godolphin’s founder, was delighted and said: “Ribchester was always travelling well with the field. He is a good horse.
“In life there is no winning post. You have to keep going otherwise the rest will catch up with you.
“Royal Ascot is a great place to win. It is very difficult to win because everybody comes from America, Australia and all over the world to Royal Ascot.”
Jim Crowley, rider of Mutakayyef, said: “That was a good run – he just couldn’t get to the winner.”
Dr Jim Hay, part-owner of Deauville, who had been supplemented, said: “That was a fantastic run. He is a very flexible horse; probably nine furlongs is his perfect distance. But he needs it like today – he needs firm going, and he doesn’t get it very often. No doubt Aidan [O’Brien] and the rest of the lads will have a chat and work out where to go next.”