Kingman, Toronado and Sole Power all posted impressive wins on the first day of Royal Ascot.
For Kingman, the St James's Palace Stakes victory over Night of Thunder avenged his only career loss and stamped him as an absolute star among 3-year-old milers. Toronado bounced back from a thumping loss and a long vacation to take supremacy among older milers in the Queen Anne Stakes.
And Sole Power defended his title in the King's Stand Sprint to get the week off to a flying start.
Here's the scoop:
Sole Power was so much the best in the 5-furlongs King's Stand that rider Richard Hughes took him on a bit of a tour of the Ascot course and still got him home first by 1 1/4 lengths. Breaking near the back of the field from a middle post, Hughes could see all his options midway through the race. He opted to swing to the right, toward the inside of the course, spurted between a couple of rivals and found plenty of gas in the tank of his 7-year-old Kyllachy gelding. Stepper Point, also by Kyllachy but two years junior to the winner, finished a close second with Hot Streak and Medicean Man third and fourth. Shea Shea, who has been at the top level in international sprints for the past few years, acted up before Tuesday's heat and finished 115h. Sole Power was third in the King's Stand in 2012 and won last year's edition. He disappointed in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on World Cup night, however, finishing seventh.
Kingman easily shot by pacesetting rival Night of Thunder in the Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes for 3-year-olds, definitively settling the issue of the best 3-year-old miler in training in the U.K. Night of Thunder, who handed Kingman his only career loss in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, made all the going in Tuesday's race with James Doyle reserving Kingman well back in the seven-horse field. Once straightened out and in the clear, Kingman gobbled up the ground, veered slightly to the right once clear of the leader and won by an easy 2 1/4 lengths. Godolphin's Outstrip, winner of the last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, ran on well enough to finish third but was never a threat to the top two. Kingman, a bay son of Invincible Spirit, now has five wins from six starts for trainer John Gosden and his owner/breeder, Juddmonte Farms.
Toronado got Royal Ascot off to a rousing start in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at 1 mile on the straight. After racing in mid-pack, jockey Richard Hughes got the 4-year-old High Chaparral colt into gear with a couple hundred yards to run. But Joseph O'Brien also had American import Verrazano in full flight, with French raider Anodin right behind that one. And so they, finished with Toronado in front by 3/4 length and Verrazano another 1 1/4 lengths in arrears. Toronado's performance was doubly impressive since he had not raced since last August, when he tossed in an absolute clunker in the Group 1 Juddmonte International at York. "That was like switching on a light," Hughes said of the Ascot performance. Toronado is owned by Qatar's Sheik Joaan. Verrazano's trainer, Aidan O'Brien, judged his colt's performance an improvement over his first U.K. start -- a third in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.