It was not to be for Australian hopes of another victory in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes as Danny O’Brien’s Shamexpress could only finish ninth in the 1000-metre Royal Ascot dash overnight.
With the field spread all over the track, Craig Newitt’s mount made good headway from the rear but was four and a quarter lengths behind the Irish-trained winner Sole Power.
Last seen landing the Lexus Newmarket Handicap at Flemington in March, O’Brien is keen to return the four-year-old to 1200 metres for a rematch with Sole Power in next month’s Darley July Cup – the seventh leg of the Global Sprint Challenge.
“He was only average today,” said the Flemington trainer.
“He has not been beaten out of sight – three or four lengths. He was probably a bit soft in the last 100 (metres).
“He chased Shea Shea, but was just average in the last furlong. We will probably stay – we are here now and the horse is in good order – and try him over six furlongs in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket.”
South African ace Shea Shea went off favourite and put in a bold show on the far side of the Royal Ascot straight, but he was cut down late on the stands rail and defeated a neck by Sole Power, who has travelled the world with trainer Eddie Lynam.
A 100-1 winner of the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York in 2010, Sole Power had finished behind Shea Shea twice at the Dubai Carnival, including in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint.
It was the third straight King’s Stand appearance for 32-start veteran Sole Power who improved off eighth (2011) and third (2012) placings to claim a thrilling win.
Lynam said: “I’m very proud of him. I thought if we could beat Shea Shea, he was going to win, but I didn’t think he could beat Shea Shea.
“He’ll go on now for the July Cup. He’s a year older so I think he’d have a better chance of staying the extra distance.
“Then he’ll go for the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, then the Prix de l’Abbaye and on to the Hong Kong Sprint. He might have a couple of weeks off after that!”
Lynam was asked if he could possibly even run Sole Power in the $1 million Patinack Farm Classic at the Spring Racing Carnival, but he smiled, “We know what we can do, and we know what we can’t. I know how good those Australian sprinters are, so we won’t go there.”
With his victory last night, Sole Power became eligible for a $600,000 bonus if successful in the Patinack Farm Classic at Flemington this November.
Shea Shea’s jockey Christophe Soumillon felt his mount could have done with more company, but trainer Mike De Kock did not rule out a possible return on Saturday for another cosmopolitan sprint, the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes (1200m).
“We’ll see how he pulls out in the morning and may take our place on Saturday, but the door’s open,” he said.