Tuesday 15 October 2019

Blue Point sprints into history books on the double

Leading jockey Frankie Detori. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire
Leading jockey Frankie Detori. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire

Marcus Armytage

There are several contenders for Royal Ascot's star of the week and while Frankie Dettori, was home and hosed for the human version long before drawing a last-day blank yesterday, for the sheer degree of difficulty in winning two races within the five days, his equine counterpart must surely be Blue Point.

The Godolphin sprinter added yesterday's Diamond Jubilee Stakes, by a fast-diminishing head, to Tuesday's somewhat easier King's Stand Stakes to complete one of the rarer feats in racing, a double last achieved by the Australian raider Choisir in 2003. Before him it was Diadem 99 years ago.

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On Tuesday, Blue Point beat Battaash with a degree of ease but yesterday, over an extra furlong, Kachy, a 33-1 shot, left the stalls like a bullet from a barrel and had opened up a three-length lead before they had gone 100 yards.

Two out, everyone except James Doyle on Blue Point was hard at work, but Blue Point's willingness to please was almost his undoing as he sought to go after the leader.

In front at the furlong point and travelling well, Doyle was then reminded of why Ascot's last furlong can often feel like Aintree's at the end of the Grand National, even on a sprinter, as Blue Point began to get lonely and no doubt, at the end of his second race this week, weary.

Dream Of Dreams, ridden by Danny Tudhope, who was scenting a fifth Royal winner of the week, was the only other horse to get past Kachy and he was catching Blue Point with every stride inside the last 100 yards, but the winner stuck his neck out when he heard him coming to complete the famous double.

When asked whether it had been a difficult decision to run him a second time this week Sheikh Mohammed, who had earlier seen Pinatubo run out an impressive winner of the Chesham Stakes, said: "It was easy. We wanted to see him run again. It was marvellous."

Charlie Appleby, the trainer, said: "We thought about it about a week ago and I said to His Highness, 'If you're happy I'll leave him in on Saturday, it leaves us in a position where we can have a crack if we want to'. He's going to retire at the end of the year, he is a superstar. His Highness made the call - it was sporting to bring both him and Masar here today."

James Doyle, who has been standing for William Buick, who is recovering from concussion, said: "He's a horse you dream about. He's learned what the job is all about. He's a complete professional. Kachy went a hell of a lick and he's so genuine he was trying to run him down and then got a bit lonely."

Masar, last year's Derby winner having his first start since, was the one blip on Godolphin's day. He made a so-so comeback after a year off in the Hardwicke Stakes nearly five lengths behind the winner, but there was a spectacular near-miss in the race when Nagano Gold, only the second ever Czech runner at Royal Ascot was beaten by just half-a-length by 11/4 favourite Defoe.

Racing in the Czech Republic is on a very small scale. I dare say Appleby trains as many horses as there are in the country. The five-year-old, a 25/1 shot ridden by Christophe Soumillon, was nearly brought down leaving the stalls, and trailed round in last place, before going past Masar like he was standing still and passing everything except the winner.

The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is Nagano Gold's long-term aim, but if they wanted another sporting chance at giant slaying, they should bring him back to Ascot for the King George.

"He's been running in France," explained the owner-trainer Vaclav Luka's racing manager Tomas Janda. "But he's always been pulling very hard there [because the tempo of the races is usually slower] so we thought the British style of racing would suit him."

Defoe, however, is now really getting his act together at this level, having broken his Group One duck in the Coronation Cup at Epsom. Yesterday's race, though a Group Two, was a Group One in all but name.

"He's come forward again from Epsom," said trainer Roger Varian, who is also eyeing the King George and completed a double on the day with Cape Byron in the Wokingham. "He's very straightforward, he tries, he's relaxed, he's getting better with age."

Dettori's four-timer on Thursday will last a long time in the memory and his seven winners all told ensured he was the leading jockey at the meeting for the first time since 2004 while, though not as dominant as some years, Aidan O'Brien's five winners earned him the leading trainer award for the 10th time.


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