Barney Roy confirmed himself a top-notch performer with victory, in a record time, in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The Richard Hannon-trained colt, ridden by James Doyle, emphatically turned the tables on Churchill, his conqueror in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. The later started the 1-2 favourite but could do no better than fourth, as Barney Roy beat Lancaster Bomber and another Godolphin runner, Thunder Snow, by one length and a head.
Hannon said: “We felt he was unlucky in the Guineas [when stumbling in the Dip], and if he was unlucky he would win today, and so it proved. We have massive respect for Churchill, and I don’t think he has run his true race today, but we were there to take advantage.
“I was frustrated after the Guineas because he was a little inexperienced – that was what beat him. He nodded going into the Dip, lost his stride, and I thought he had broken down.
“To his credit he quickened up against horses that were already quickening, while Churchill got a lovely run, which was well executed by them. I felt that a flatter track here, without any undulations, would play to his strengths. James came down and rode him around a right-hand bend at Kempton last week, and he worked brilliantly on Sunday, and it’s all paid off.”
Looking to the future, he said: “I’m sure our horse will get further – he’s in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes and the Arc. He takes time to pick up and he’s very relaxed, but a horse having just his fourth race, and to beat a Guineas winner, is very good.
“We’ll take him home, see how he is, and talk to Sheikh Mohammed. He’s done nothing wrong over a mile, so don’t get me wrong, but he will get further.”
A jubilant Doyle said: “That is only the fourth run of his life and he is still learning. He is very babyish, but he is learning all the time and he has come out on top at the line. I knew that given a bit of time and some room, he would be motoring and he proved that today.
“I knew we could draw a line through the 2000 Guineas as that race was a complete mess. We knew he had an engine and it was just about channelling that in the right direction.”
He added: “Today means everything. This is why I joined the team to ride big winners like this. To get one on a day like today with Sheikh Mohammed here makes me feel very proud. It’s very important and there’s a great sense of pride to ride him a proper Group One winner at Royal Ascot.
“Looking at Churchill’s replays again and again, trying to find a chink in his armour, it did not look like there was. I thought he was either an outstanding horse who only does enough or he is just a good horse. Luckily, he is just a good horse and we have got one a bit better.”
Aidan O’Brien was delighted with Lancaster Bomber, who finished second, but mystified by Churchill’s flat effort. He said: “I don’t think the ground was an issue. I don’t have any plans for him.”
Ryan Moore, Churchill’s jockey, said: “He was never comfortable. I’m not sure why.”
Third, a head behind Lancaster Bomber, was Thunder Snow, trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by Christophe Soumillon.
Saeed Bin Suroor said: “I’m happy with him – he ran really well. I think he would be better with easy ground, but I’m happy with the way he ran.”