Godolphin’s Coroebus underlined his status as racing's best three-year-old miler by taking the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes in a thrilling battle on the opening day of Royal Ascot on Tuesday.
The 2000 Guineas winner under William Buick had to dig deep to stay ahead in a four-way finish ahead of Lusail, My Prospero and Maljoom to claim his fourth Group 1 prize.
The Charlie Appleby-trained Dubawi colt travelled keenly at the start, and briefly looked in trouble when short of room on the drive for home but found a gap down the rail to sweep past a trio of runners and keep his head in front at the line.
“You have to enjoy these good horses and I'm very privileged to be able to get on them, but at the same time it's a case of getting the job done, and it was one of those races where it was tricky,” Buick said.
“A good draw can turn into a bad draw very quickly. He travels extremely strongly and you just want him to drop his head.
“In the straight I had no option to go until there was enough room, and then he picked it up and went through. He's got everything you could ask for a racehorse.”
Earlier, Baaeed – in Dubai’s Shadwell silks – showcased his claims as the best horse in the world with a brilliant success in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes to open proceedings in terrific style.
Undefeated in seven starts ahead of the meeting's traditional curtain-raiser, Baaeed went through the gears in easily disposing of Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor’s Real World to make it a perfect eight and land a fourth Group 1 victory under Jim Crowley.
“It doesn't get any easier than that,” the winning rider said. “Everything went smoothly, he got a lovely tow into the race and I just let him stretch out in the last furlong. It was like clockwork.
It was also a first Queen Anne Stakes for trainer William Haggas, who was relieved his star got the job done.
“He didn't really do a lot and he wasn't extended fully,” he said. “We can't really learn anything from that apart from he travels and settles well, that's a pretty important part of the job.”
Baaeed may next head for the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood or the Juddmonte International at York.
Appleby added: “We spoke beforehand about having Baaeed and Coroebus together and the Sussex is always a fantastic race, we all know with the three-year-olds and the older horses taking each other on.
“As always, we'll let the dust settle and I'll have conversations with His Highness [Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai] and the team and we'll firm those plans up. But on the evidence of what we've seen today, he [Coroebus] deserves to be there for sure.”