Appleby's Blue speedster makes his point at Ascot
Classic runners may be thin on the ground for Charlie Appleby, but his Royal Ascot plans took further shape after Blue Point made a triumphant return in the Merriebelle Stable Pavilion Stakes at the venue yesterday.
Having signed off last season with placed efforts in the Middle Park and Dewhurst, the son of Shamardal showed he has trained on by putting his rivals to the sword in the six-furlong contest in a course record time.
Tracking the early pace set by Yalta down the centre of the track the 13/8 favourite, which claimed the first pattern win of his career in last year's Gimcrack, moved with great fluency to stride into the lead inside the final two furlongs before posting victory by a length and a half over Mill Reef winner Harry Angel.
"I'm not going to start changing my opinion of him - he's the quickest horse in the yard and always has been," said Appleby. "William (Buick) was delighted with him and we'll go straight for the Commonwealth Cup. We spoke about the Sandy Lane (Haydock, May 27), but there's no need to go there as he's done his job, so we'll head straight to Royal Ascot."
The riding honours went to Silvestre de Sousa (right) who took this Ascot fixture by storm when riding a 662/1 treble which included the Sagaro Stakes on Sweet Selection. De Sousa had ridden the Hughie Morrison-trained mare to Cesarewitch glory last autumn but she was stepping up in this Group Three.
The 15/2 chance tracked stablemate Nearly Caught before galloping all the way to the line for a one-and-a-half-length verdict over Prince Of Arran.
"If you saw Sweet Selection work on Friday, you would think, 'Why are we running her'? We'll go for the Gold Cup (at Royal Ascot) now," said the trainer.
Earlier, Tom Dascombe's Frozen Angel put himself in the Royal Ascot frame as De Sousa had the 12/1 shot up with the pace throughout the Sodexo Conditions Stakes, before the pair skipped clear of 5/6 favourite Corinthia Knight for a three-and-a-quarter-length success.
De Sousa was also on Prosper (5/1) which regained the winning thread after showing the best of her battling qualities to land the fillies' contest over a mile. Racing close to the early pace set by Blending, the Roger Varian-trained three-year-old kicked on over a furlong out before holding the late rally of Icespire by a short-head.
Richard Hannon's Tabarrak confirmed the promise of his recent comeback run when landing a game victory in the Rundle's Paradise Stakes.
The four-year-old had been off for 12 months before finishing second at Newmarket two weeks ago and went one better with a battling effort to see off Ennaadd.
One of three horses carrying the colours of Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum in the seven-runner line-up, Tabarrak (7/2) was delivered by the owner's retained rider Jim Crowley to challenge at the business end and deny the 2/1 favourite by a neck.