Order of St George delivers trainer O'Brien seventh Gold Cup
Aidan O'Brien was in seventh heaven as his star charge Order of St George delivered on favourite’s status to claim the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
There were doubts about stamina and how the horse would handle the traffic of 17 rivals, the largest field for the race in more than seven decades.
But jockey Ryan Moore delivered the perfect patient ride, ducking, diving and dodging through the congestion before charging up the home straight ahead of Mizzou and long-shot Sheikhzayedroad.
"It was a little bit messy and rough and because he had never run over the trip before, Ryan had to put him to sleep in the middle of the race because he's a horse that loves racing," said O’Brien.
Order of St George is now a 5-2 chance to defend his crown in 2017, something not achieved since four-time winner Yeats, also trained by O’Brien.
And Moore wouldn’t be surprised.
"He’s a very exciting horse and a class animal," he said. "He has lots of class and it was a very messy race with 18 runners in there."
Jockeys report that the ground at Ascot is tacky and tiring, meaning course officials will maintain the going as soft for the fourth consecutive day, with rain again forecast on Friday.
Jeremy Noseda has been effusive in recent weeks about the changes of his Coronation Stakes hope Nemoralia but the horse plunged in the betting markets after some negative comments about the ground.
Her win at York underlined undoubted class but Noseda’s quote at the start of the week that "it's all but game over" prompted a dramatic drift in the markets, though the price has rebounded in the last 24 hours.
"Barring this weather, everything is perfect and she is ready," he said.
"I feel we've got to give it a go and take our chance but fast ground suits her best, although she performed well in the Breeders' Cup."
The horse looks the quality attraction in the race but caution might mean Jet Setting, who claimed the notable scalp of Oaks winner Minding in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, is a preferable selection at a better value price.
"Everybody says she's a mudlark, but I don't think she needs soft ground, she just doesn't want firm ground," said trainer Adrian Neatly.
Meanwhile, Queen Kindly will hope to prove like father, like daughter in the opening race of the fourth day of the £6.5 meeting. Trained by Richard Fahey she becomes the first progeny of the legendary Frankel to run at Royal Ascot.
This is a step up from her only previous outing, a win in a six-runner race at Catterick, but she’s definitely got the right genes to deliver almost exactly four years to the day after dad won the Queen Anne Stakes in dramatic fashion.