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Royal Ascot winds up on a sad note

June 22, 2013 at 11:45 AM   |   Comments

ASCOT, England, June 22 (UPI) -- Royal Ascot wound up Saturday with a smashing win in the Diamond Jubilee and a sad conclusion in the Hardwicke Stakes.

Lethal Force, a narrow second to Society Rock in their last race at York, repaid that favor in spades with 2-lengths victory in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Lethal Force, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred son of Dark Angel, was along at the right time, posting his first Group 1 triumph.

Krypton Factor was third across the line and Gordon Lord Byron was fourth. The 6 furlongs over good to firm going went in 1:13.36 as Adam Kirby handled Lethal Force for trainer Clive Cox.

The victory, in a race won last year by Australian superstar Black Caviar, positions Lethal Force among the top ranks of European sprinters. It also gives him one up in the ongoing Global Sprint Challenge, which offers a $1 million bonus for any horse winning three legs in three different countries.

While lacking the drama of Black Caviar's narrow victory last year, the race provided a fitting curtain to the Group events at this year's Royal meeting, which included a sparkling performance by Irish-trained horses, a victory for Her Majesty the Queen and a proper memorial for the recently deceased trainer, Sir Henry Cecil.

That remembrance, however, was saddened by the outcome of the day's other Group event, as Thomas Chippendale, trained by Sir Henry's widow, Lady Jane Cecil, posted an upset win in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes but then collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack.

Leading with a quarter mile to go, Thomas Chippendale held off Dandino by 1 length at the end. Universal was third. Johnny Murtagh quickly dismounted the winner after the finish and the horse was attended by a race track veterinarian without success. The favorite, Ektihaam, slipped on the turn and dropped jockey Paul Hanagan, though neither appeared to suffer serious injury.

Thomas Chippendale, a 4-year-old Dansili colt, finished second to Ektihaam in their last race, a listed heat also at Ascot. He also was a winner at last year's Royal Ascot, taking down the King Edward VII Stakes. He finished the 1 1/2-miles Hardwicke in 2:30.65.

Dandino's trainer, Marco Botti, said he will be looking at Australia's big fall races. The King George, Canadian International and Japan Cup could be on the agenda for Universal, said trainer Mark Johnston.

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