Ascot, England// They came from five countries to try to prise the Diamond Jubilee Stakes away from Ascot racecourse Saturday but it was Lethal Force who led the home defence to take the final Group 1 contest of the week.
Lethal Force hit the gate and was never headed and although jockey Adam Kirby waited until two furlongs from home to galvanise his mount the response was instant.
Kieren Fallon endured a tortuous journey on a fast-finishing Society Rock but the pair could never get closer than the two lengths that separated them from the winner at the line.
Krypton Factor ran a huge race on his first start since finishing third in the Dubai Golden Shaheen in March and improved on his sixth to Black Caviar last season by being next home.
Gordon Lord Byron, who was seventh in Dubai, was fourth and best of the five Irish challengers. Kirbys' Royal Ascot CV extended to a sole victory on Reckless Abandon in the Norfolk Stakes last year but it was his first Group 1 success, and victory rarely tastes as sweet as this.
Lethal Force showed his hand when winning a Group 2 contest at Newbury last season and although he had pushed Society Rock to within a head at York last month there were those who felt there was a whiff of good fortune to those performances.
"He's unbelievable the way he does things," Kirby said. "Everyone said it was a fluke when he won the Hungerford over seven furlongs last season but it wasn't. He was only three and just a frame then but he's a much more solid horse now."
The first three finishers could all meet again in the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket next month, where Mike de Kock's Shea Shea lies in wait, although trainer Clive Cox was not so sure the undulations of the July Course would suit his new star, Lethal Force.
Both James Fanshawe, trainer of Society Rock, and Fawzi Nass, trainer of Krypton Factor, were game for the re-match, however.
"He is in better form this year," Nass said of his 2012 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner. "Last year we went to Singapore after Dubai and there was a lot of travelling for him. This year was a different case - he came here direct from Dubai and did not have such a hard campaign while he was there. He will come on plenty from this run."
As soon as the gates opened, Kirby found himself at the front of the pack on the stands' side of the course. Luke Morris tracked him on Krypton Factor, while on the other side of the course Fallon realised quickly that he had the wrong running companions to give Society Rock the tow he needed.
He set about manoeuvring Society Rock to the stands' side of the track and even a furlong and a half from home his mount was still in last place.
Society Rock's turn of foot earned him a victory in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes two seasons ago, and Fallon used his mount's acceleration to motor through the field and past Krypton Factor.
By then, however, Lethal Force and Kirby were gone.
Sea Siren finished eighth for Australia under Ryan Moore, while Havelock was 11th for America under Frankie Dettori, one place behind French raider Gammarth.
In France today, Cirrus Des Aigles makes his eagerly-awaited return to the racecourse in the Group 1 Grand Prix De Saint-Cloud.
The 2012 Dubai Sheema Classic champion was last seen chasing home Frankel in the Champion Stakes at Ascot on his last run in October.
He has endured a catalogue of injury problems but takes on 10 rivals including Dunaden, the 2011 Melbourne Cup victor, en route to a possible tilt at the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes back at Ascot next month.
Dunaden was second to St Nicholas Abbey in the Coronation Stakes at Epsom three weeks ago, having found Aidan O'Brien's charge too strong in the Dubai Sheema Classic in March.
The runner-up that day was Gentildonna, the Japanese Triple Crown filly, who faces 10 others in the Group 1 Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin this morning.
Elsewhere, Kinsale King, the 2010 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner, put up a storming performance to finish a narrow second to Boat Trip at Hollywood Park over five furlongs on turf late on Friday night.
Kinsale King had not run since September 2011 due to severe injuries to his feet. Trainer Carl O'Callaghan suggested afterwards that the 2014 Golden Shaheen was the long-term target for the eight-year-old gelding.
'Awful' emotion for Lady Cecil
Rarely can one woman have gone through such a gamut of emotions as Lady Cecil in the space of two weeks.
Saturday, Thomas Chippendale became her second Royal Ascot winner.
A stride after crossing the line in the Hardwicke Stakes, the four-year-old colt suffered a suspected heart attack.
Johnny Murtagh dismounted immediately in front of the 72,694 spectators but there was nothing the Irishman, nor the veterinarians, could do.
“It’s so awful to go from one emotion to another, from a high to a low,” she said, just 14 days after Sir Henry Cecil, her husband, died of cancer.
“It puts such a dampener on the day. My heart is pounding, but we have to carry on.”