For the second night running Australian racing fans had to be content with a narrow Group 1 second at Royal Ascot as superstar So You Think suffered his first defeat in Europe on Wednesday evening (AET).
The dual Tatts Cox Plate winner was denied an historic victory in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2000m) by Godolphin’s underrated Rewilding, but lost few admirers in the process.
The six-time Group 1 winner’s minor placing came 24 hours after Victorian colt Star Witness posted a brave second in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m) after a tardy beginning.
Forced to race without cover after a slow beginning by his stablemate and pacemaker Jan Vermeer, So You Think, the 4/11 favourite, surged to the lead upon turning for home and booted clear by four lengths by the 400m mark.
But a more arduous trip than desired began to take its toll as jockey Ryan Moore asked the Aussie ex-pat for his supreme effort, only to be grabbed in the shadows of the post by talented stayer Rewilding (17/2).
The official margin was a neck, much to the delight of winning jockey Frankie Dettori who stood high in the irons after claiming the coveted race, with six lengths back to outsider Sri Putra (66/1) in third.
Click here to view a replay of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes courtesy of At The Races.
Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien, who had prepared So You Think for two victories from as many starts in the trainer’s homeland, said the star’s shock defeat came because the five-year-old stallion was not at peak fitness.
“It was trainer error. He had a long blow after the race and I don’t think I had him fit enough,” O’Brien told the Racing Post.
“He came here to win his race but was then nailed by a horse who stays a mile and a half.”
Simon Crisford, Godolphin’s Racing Manager, said the O’Brien stable’s decision to utilise Jan Vermeer as a pacemaker was a boost for Rewilding who was dropping back in distance after a runaway win in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic (2400m) in late March.
“They played into our hands because the pace was so strong which is what our horse needs. He takes a while to get into his rhythm and that’s why Frankie gets on so well with him,” Crisford said.
The win was a breakthrough one for young Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni who scored a memorable maiden victory at Royal Ascot.
“I’m very happy and I have to thank his Highness (Godolphin principal Sheik Mohammed),” Al Zarooni said.
“He’s the one he tells me, ‘Mahmood, this horse should run very fresh’, so we always try it and it’s worked in every race.”
Sheik Mohammed, the Ruler of Dubai, said he was optimistic of running down So You Think despite the head start Rewilding afforded at the top of the straight.
“I was always hopeful (that he would catch So You Think) because that I knew he would stay on and have that speed….the better horse on the day won,” Sheik Mohammed said.
Rewilding will now be targeted at the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2400m) at Ascot next month, whilst the world awaits confirmation of where So You Think will head next.
In other news on day two at Royal Ascot, the Richard Hannon-Richard Hughes combination again shone claiming the Group 3 Jersey Stakes (1400m) with Strong Suit (11/1).
The pair were amongst the stars on day one of the Carnival when they combined to win the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (1600m) with star miler Canford Cliffs.
Strong Suit’s victory was a welcome return to form for the three-year-old who proved triumphant at the Royal Ascot meeting 12 months prior in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes (1000m).