Moore and Lee star with Ascot heroics
Aidan O'Brien and David Wachman plundered a trio of winners to take the raiders' Royal Ascot tally to seven but Ryan Moore and Graham Lee stole the show on day three.
Moore matched the record post-war total of eight set by Lester Piggott and Pat Eddery with a second treble, and he has a day more than those two riding giants had to set a new benchmark, now that it is a five-day festival. He opened the scoring here with a 12/1 victory on O'Brien's Waterloo Bridge in the Group Two Norfolk Stakes.
Wachman then gave him the leg-up on Curvy (9/2) in the Ribblesdale. Jim Bolger's Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Pleascach started favourite but did herself no favours by failing to settle off the steady early gallop.
In contrast, Curvy made light of the step up to 12 furlongs to successfully bridge the jump in class to Group Two company by scoring for a fourth time on the spin. "My plan was to come here and then possibly run in the Irish Derby, but we will see what suits," Wachman suggested of his progressive filly, which has the Irish Oaks and Pretty Polly Stakes as alternative options.
"The trick to this place is not to bring too many. You try and bring the right ones." Moore completed his and Coolmore's stunning 785.5/1 treble and O'Brien's 142/1 brace with a daringly patient steer aboard the frustrating War Envoy (10/1) in the Britannia Handicap, after which the Ballydoyle genius spoke unequivocally of him.
"The greatest jockey I've ever seen and a gentleman to work with," the champion trainer said after he had secured his fourth win of the meeting. "He gave him a peach of a ride."
By then, though, the inspired duo had also had a slight setback when Kingfisher flashed home for second in the Gold Cup, with Dermot Weld's Forgotten Rules fading into third. Moore couldn't get a run in the straight, and, by the time he did, Lee had flown on Ed Dunlop's Trip To Paris, a 12/1 shot supplemented for £35,000.
A first Group One for the 39-year-old professionals' professional from Mervue in Galway, the Gold Cup coup was further vindication of Lee's decision to switch codes in 2012, at a time when he was five shy of his 1,000th British jumps win.
"Am I winding down my career?" the non-drinker and non-smoker mused then. "No chance - I am so focused."
Three successive centuries had already confirmed the veracity of that statement, and now Lee, leading rider at the 2005 Cheltenham Festival, is the only jockey to have won both codes' marathon showpieces, having also enjoyed Grand National glory at Aintree on Amberleigh House in 2004.
"That's an awful question!" he quipped when asked on Channel 4 how the two compared. "It's different. I wouldn't be able to put it into words.
"It's a good day at the office and I'm just very fortunate. I've been lucky enough to have some good days at Cheltenham and Aintree and it's great that I've managed to nick a winner here."