Thursday 18 January 2018

Almanzor too quick for Found in brilliant Ascot display

Minding, trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore, on the way to victory in The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot yesterday
Minding, trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore, on the way to victory in The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot yesterday

Graham Clark

Almanzor confirmed his reputation as the best colt of the Classic generation with another stunning display in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot. Trained by the champion trainer of France, Jean-Claude Rouget, he followed up his Irish Champion Stakes win by beating Found once again.

Given Aidan O'Brien's mare won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in between her races against Almanzor, it shows just how good the Wootton Bassett colt is. From his draw in stall one, Christophe Soumillon was at pains to make sure he was not trapped in against the rails and while he ended up in a pocket at one stage, Almanzor was good enough - so it made no difference.

The Grey Gatsby returned to form and hit the front, taking over from Racing History with two furlongs to run, but Soumillon looked cool. Ryan Moore moved Found up on his outside, but Almanzor, the 11-8 favourite, showed a blistering turn of foot once more to win by two lengths.

Jack Hobbs ran a tremendous race on his comeback, staying on for third. Soumillon said: "He is an amazing horse. Everything you do with him looks easy, it just shows you how good he is. I never thought at the beginning of the season he would be that strong the whole year. He is getting smarter and smarter.

"A few horses were going left and right in the beginning, I was trying to get a good position, but unfortunately I had to go on the inside. When I came on the outside with The Grey Gatsby, I knew he was going to give me something.

"I came a bit early for him and I knew Found was there and how strong she is, so I was giving him a chance to finish well and the last 100 yards he kept going. We have never tried a mile and a half, but I am sure he will stay."

O'Brien said of Found: "I'm delighted for her. She's a great mare and she still kept coming with her head down. Ryan gave her a great ride as she was drawn out wide which is a difficult enough place. She looked great and was well in herself."

John Gosden said of Jack Hobbs: "It's great to have the old boy back as it has been a long road with him and we know he's a mile-and-a-half horse. He's run a blinder and will go to Dubai for the Sheema Classic."

O'Brien was celebrating earlier in the day when Minding showed the boys a clean pair of heels to notch another Group One triumph in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. On the go all season, the brilliant filly already had the 1000 Guineas, Oaks and Nassau Stakes in the bag and had run well in the Irish Champion Stakes behind Almanzor and Found.

Dropped back to a mile for the first time since her surprise reverse in the Irish Guineas, she was not inconvenienced in the slightest, travelling strongly throughout for Ryan Moore. Jet Setting led the group on the near side with Galileo Gold racing keenly behind her, while on the far side Barchan, making the pace for Ribchester, was giving the perfect lead to Minding with Ribchester behind her.

Approaching the final furlong Moore kicked clear and gained a decisive two-length advantage, which she needed in the end. O'Brien said: "It's unbelievable, she's an incredible filly. The last day she worked, Seamus (Heffernan) got off her and we couldn't believe it. It's a big team effort, as you can imagine. I can't say how delighted I am for everybody ."

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