Ascot // Al Asayl have spent time laying the foundations of their breeding and racing operation, and it paid off spectacularly on Friday when Balios surged through the field to triumph in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes under Jamie Spencer.
It was a first win at Royal Ascot for the Abu Dhabi-based organisation.
There was added lustre to the victory because the son of dual French Classic winner Shamardal was bred by Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa.
Trainer David Simcock was also sampling the unique taste of a first Royal Ascot winner, and he is looking forward to campaigning Balios across the world during the next few years.
“Winning here is not a monkey off my back, but it is huge relief,” Simcock said.
“I’m pleased for the owners, they are very sporting and like to travel and this is a horse they can enjoy for the next two to three years.
“He’ll be a flagship horse for them.”
Balios not only won the prize for the best turned out, but the strapping chestnut clearly has a depth of talent to match his looks.
It was just the third run of his career and only his second on turf after he chased home Godolphin’s Best Of Times in Newmarket last month.
Spencer was at the rear of the field by design for much of the race and, 400 metres out, Balios was in sixth place with only pulled-up favourite Stravagante behind him.
As Mr Singh began to tread water out in front, despite the best urgings of James Doyle, Spencer unleashed his mount. Although it took a few strides, the pair picked up speed to leave Coolmore’s Ol’ Man River standing for a length-and-a-quarter victory.
Doyle kept Mr Singh going enough to hold off Father Christmas for second.
“I have been watching the highlights every morning with my children and they keep saying, ‘where are you, how come you’re not winning?’ so I can’t wait until tomorrow’s highlights,” Spencer said.
“He is a very lightly raced horse and is quite immature still. His work a week ago was outstanding. I thought he was one of my best chances of the week if he could get through the preliminaries.”
Just 35 minutes later, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid won the inaugural Group 1 Commonwealth Cup with Muhaarar.
Dane O’Neill bided his time in the middle of the field before his mount started to make rapid headway from the 400m. Within 200m he had assumed the lead and stayed there all the way to the line to beat the highly regarded Limato and Anthem Alexander.
The stage was set for a hat-trick of victories by UAE-owned horses with four opportunities in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes, but Godolphin’s Lucida could not quite catch Ervedya and runner-up Found.
Ervedya gained revenge for her defeat to Found in Paris in October, and it was Christophe Soumillon’s perfectly timed late run that sealed the feature race of the day by a neck.
“I was lucky I got a gap in the middle,” Soumillon said.
“I knew Aidan O’Brien’s filly (Found) would be at the top of her game today and she beat us last year in Longchamp.”
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