June 21 (UPI) -- Japan salvaged an otherwise disappointing day for the Coolmore lads on the fourth day of Royal Ascot, posting a dominating victory in the King Edward VII Stakes, informally known as the Ascot Derby.
On a day filled with one storyline after another, the rapidly rising star of Phoenix Thoroughbreds got a big boost with a Group 1 victory and a French filly overshadowed the dual Guineas winner Hermosa in the Coronation Cup.
Hayley Turner became only the second female jockey to win a Royal Ascot race but had to beat Her Majesty the Queen's runner to do it. Ryan Moore had two wins and Frankie Dettori one, sending their head-to-head contest to Saturday's final day.
Here's how things went after Her Majesty arrived in the lead carriage, attired in raspberry pink:
Dettori, after riding the first four winners on Thursday's card, waited until the first of Friday's two Group 1 events to get back to the winner's enclosure. But when he did, it was with a bang, guiding 8-1 long shot Advertise from well back to win the 6-furlongs Commonwealth Cup for 3-year-olds by a comfortable 1 1/2 lengths.
Forever In Dreams was second, narrowly in front of Hello Youmzain, while even-money favorite Ten Sovereigns proved a massive disappointment for his backers, if not Coolmore and trainer Aidan O'Brien, finishing fourth.
The flip side of disappointment was triumph for the relatively new Phoenix Thoroughbreds and the even newer Phoenix Ladies Syndicate -- owners of the first two finishers.
"To have him here today and to win like that is amazing," aid Amer Abdulaziz, founder and guiding light of the Phoenix group. "It means a lot for our investors to win at Royal Ascot. There's nothing like it."
Advertise, a Showcasing colt trained by Martyn Meade, was second behind Too Darn Hot in the Group 1 Darley Dewhurst in October, capping a campaign in which he was never worse than second in five starts. His stock took a hit, however, as he reported 15th when stretched out in distance for the Qipco 2000 Guineas, his only previous start as a 3-year-old.
"I have always had great faith in him," said Meade, who recorded his first Royal Ascot win. "I thought, let's go back to basics, where we were before over 6 furlongs. We know that he is brilliant at that, so if I can just reproduce what he was doing as a 2-year-old, that shouldn't be a problem."
During the running, Meade admitted, "I did think "what is Frankie doing now?" because I thought he hit the front too soon. But this is Frankie. He knows exactly what he is doing and what sort of horse he has underneath him."
Despite the defeat, O'Brien and Moore expressed satisfaction with Ten Sovereigns' run, turning back to 6 furlongs. "It was a bit messy for him," Moore said, "but he will go the right way from that."
A French filly, Watch Me, handed Coolmore another setback in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes, running right by dual Guineas winner and even-money favorite Hermosa in the final furlong to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Hermosa held second with the well-bred Juddmonte Farms homebred Jubiloso third.
Watch Me, a daughter of Olympic Glory out of the Galileo mare Watchful, won her 3-year-old debut at Maisons-Laffitte in April for trainer Francis-Henri Graffard, but then got home sixth in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches or French 1,000 Guineas.
By contrast, Hermosa, a Galileo filly, after showing great promise as a 2-year-old in Ireland, England and France, won both the Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas in her two previous outings this year.
"It's a week you dream of," said Graffard, who five days earlier saddled Channel to win the Group 1 Prix de Diane Longines, the French Oaks. "As I was saying on Sunday, you get up every morning to do this job and to be part of the game at this level."
Winning rider Pierre-Charles Boudot said the race "went perfectly for Watch Me ... I broke well and she settled nicely. I was behind Hermosa travelling very well, very easy, and then she gave me a really nice turn of foot."
O'Brien said, "No excuses" for Hermosa although Moore noted, "She has had a hard couple of races."
The penultimate day of the Royal meeting was far from a shutout for the Irish raiders, however, as the colt described as their best of their many excellent 3-year-olds was an easy winner in the important Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes, informally known as the Ascot Derby.
Japan, a quickly developing Galileo colt, was much the best of that field. With Ryan Moore riding, Japan stayed wide and well behind his seven rivals until the field crested the climb up from Swinley Bottom. He was well out on the course heading into the stretch, quickly accelerated around the field and drew off to win by 4 1/2 lengths while drifting back to the rails.
A Group 2 winner as a juvenile, Japan's 3-year-old season was delayed until the Dante Stakes at York on May 16, where he was fourth. He then finished third in the Investec Derby at Epsom, beaten only 1 1/2 lengths by stablemate Anthony Van Dyck.
"The Derby was a very good race this year," said winning trainer Aidan O'Brien. "I don't think anyone realized how good it was."
For Japan, O'Brien said, it was part of a very satisfying progression. And Derrick Smith, one of the Coolmore "lads," declared, "I reckon he is the best of the lot."
The victory at 1 1/2 miles opens a world of possibilities for Japan, including the Group 1 St Leger late in the season.
"This is a high-class colt and he put the race to bed very easily there," Moore said. "We went a pretty good pace. I was happy where I was rounding the home turn, as I was on the best horse. He is more than a St Leger horse, no disrespect to the race. This is a good horse and he will be a very effective mile and-a-half horse going forward."
Daahyeh got the day off to a formful start in the Group 3 Albany Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. The 4-1 favorite in a field of 25, the Bated Breath filly was always prominent in the 6-furlong run. She was headed 1 furlong out by Celtic Beauty and recovered under encouragement from jockey David Eagan to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Celtic Beauty held second with 100-1 chance Aroha third.
Daahyeh is the first Thoroughbred runner for Sheik Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain, whose earlier involvement has been with endurance racing. His filly, now undefeated after two starts, got the best of some of the world's biggest and most experienced outfits with Coolmore runners finishing fifth and 11th, Godolphin eighth and American invader Wesley Ward's duo reporting 12th and 13th.
Wednesday was Ladies Day at Royal Ascot but Friday's Sandringham Stakes for 3-year-old fillies was a triumph for two of the leading ladies in English racing. Hayley Turner became only the second female jockey to win at Royal Ascot as Thanks Be sliced cleanly through the 27-filly field to edge Her Majesty the Queen's runner, Magnetic Charm, by 1/2 length.
Thanks Be, a Mukhadram filly, was second in two starts this season for trainer Charlie Fellowes but entered the Sandringham still a maiden. As a result, she had a massive weight break from Magnetic Charm. While Thanks Be had a clean run from back to front of the huge field, Magnetic Charm repeatedly had to alter course before finding running room.
Turner, a successful rider for many years, noted, "The standard of girl jockeys has risen quite a bit" during her tenure. Interviewed after the races by NBC-TV, she added she was so impressed when, "I went into the weighing room and it was full of girls. They're all really good girls ... In another 10 years time, there will be more girls. It will be more common. But it will just take time."
The day's finale, the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes, came down to a battle between the meeting's top jockeys. Moore, aboard Baghdad, just did hold off Dettori and Ben Vrackle by a short head after 1 1/2 miles. The outcome left Moore with five wins and Dettori with seven and one day to go in the Royal meeting.
Baghdad, winner of the King George V stakes at last year's Royal Ascot, was the 7-2 favorite in the race off a handicap win May 5 at Newmarket.