Ascot repeat the target for 'Order' after perfect start
Order Of St George got his season off to a successful start when outclassing his two rivals in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan yesterday.
The 2016 Ascot Gold Cup hero was turned over 12 months ago by Torcedor when sent off the 4/5 favourite, but he made no mistake this time. Having his first race since lifting the British Champions Long Distance Cup, the six-year-old was much shorter at 2/9 on this occasion, but there were few anxious moments for his supporters in the Group Three heat over a mile and three-quarters.
British raider Lord Yeats, trained by Jedd O'Keeffe, set out to make it a true test and Paul Mulrennan upped the tempo when they turned for home. However, Ryan Moore was wise to the move and eased Order Of St George towards the middle of the course to make his challenge.
Leading at the furlong marker, Aidan O'Brien's charge pulled away to score by five-and-a-half lengths, to complete a double for trainer and jockey following the success of the promising filly So Perfect in the opening maiden.
O'Brien said: "I'm delighted with him, and hopefully he'll go for the Saval Beg (at Leopardstown on May 25) which is what we usually do and then on to Ascot.
"He finishes out very well when he gets into his tempo, and he gallops up the hill. Ryan said he was very relaxed and moved very well. They would be the two things that you would love to hear."
Paddy Power left Order Of St George unchanged at 7/2 for the Ascot Gold Cup, although RaceBets cut him to 5/2 favourite from 3/1.
So Perfect could also be Royal Ascot-bound after getting up in the dying strides to make a winning debut in the Tara Sires Irish EBF Fillies Maiden.
The daughter of Scat Daddy had plenty to do at the furling pole, but she responded well to Moore's drive once getting a clear run on the outside to put her head in front on the line. The 4/1 shot collared Mater Matuta by a short head, with Silver Service three-quarters of a length away in third.
Mary Tudor put up an emphatic performance to open her account in the Listed Irish Stallion Farms EBF Salsabil Stakes. The Godolphin-owned filly had been Group-placed as a juvenile and made the ideal start to her three-year-old campaign as she ran out a ready winner on the step up to a mile and a quarter.
Billy Lee's mount scored by two-and-a-half lengths from Dermot Weld's newcomer Hazel Bay, which shaped with great promise. Princess Yaiza was a further half a length back in third.
Winning trainer Willie McCreery said: "She's a lovely mare and has shown that form last year. She settled and did it well. She should get a mile and a half in time and we might go straight to the (Irish) Guineas now."
Earlier, The Broghie Man (10/1) hung on grimly to spring a surprise in the Listed Committed Stakes. Top French jockey Gerald Mosse - having his first ride at Navan - was at his strongest to get Adrian Keatley's three-year-old home by a short head from the closing Speak In Colours, with Fleet Review in third.
Different League, a Royal Ascot winner last year when trained in France by Matthieu Palussiere, never got into a challenging position on his first start for O'Brien, despite being sent off the 5/4 favourite, and trailed in fifth.
"Hopefully, if he can step up again then long term it might be the Commonwealth Cup (at Royal Ascot), but he'll have to go Group Three next and see where we go from there," Keatley said of the winner.