French raider Solow plunders the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot
French star Solow ground out victory in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Having run out a brilliant winner of the Dubai Turf at Meydan before landing the Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp, he was all the rage as the 11-8 favourite to provide trainer Freddy Head with a second victory in the Royal Ascot curtain-raiser following the success of marvellous mare Goldikova in 2010.
Maxime Guyon positioned the market leader close to the pace from the off, tacking the pacesetting Toormore before angling out to challenge over a furlong from home.
Lockinge hero Night Of Thunder briefly threatened to make a race of it before his effort petered out and in the end it was another French challenger in Esoterique who got closest to Solow, beaten a length.
Cougar Mountain finished well to grab third, ahead of the Richard Hannon-trained pair Toormore and Night Of Thunder.
The big disappointment of the race was Hong Kong superstar Able Friend, who was beaten a long way in sixth place.
Guyon said: "It's amazing, just before the race we were wondering if he could win, but today he was the boss.
"This year it's a new job for me (riding for owners Wertheimer brothers) so to win a Group One at Ascot for them is amazing."
Head said: "He's a beautiful horse, lovely to train and is everything you want - he's the number one.
"I thought they went pretty slow early on and I was a bit worried as it turned into a sprint.
"For a moment he was a bit done for speed, but then after 100 yards he strode out.
"I want him to last so we won't run in every race, we'll choose our races and try run him for a few more years, maybe the Sussex Stakes (next).
"I'm not sure the Breeders' Cup at Keeneland will suit him, as he's a long-striding horse."
Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Cougar Mountain, said: "He ran very well. Our horse was coming home very well and we're delighted with his run.
"As he sharpens up he might be OK over a mile, but it looks like he will be OK over a mile and a quarter, too."
Able Friend's trainer John Moore said: "If one was going to look for a negative it was that we saddled him up and he wasn't himself and he was on his toes.
"When he got down to the start the jockey said he was quite hot. That's not normally him, but he seemed to pull up OK from what I could see and when we get him back to Hong Kong I'm sure we'll get him in full swing again.
"It was great being invited to be part of the Royal meeting. I'm sorry he wasn't able to live up to his Hong Kong races, but he'll be back.
"His next run will be in October leading to the International Mile.
"You've got to remember animals travelling long distances are in a new environment and everything. I was hoping he'd be of the same demeanour here in the paddock, but that wasn't the case.
"The aura of the whole thing got to him, but I'm sure he'll be OK and we'll be looking to come back here with something else."