Circus Maximus is mother's pride at Royal Ascot
Ascot (United Kingdom) (AFP) –
Circus Maximus emulated his dam Duntle in winning at Royal Ascot as he took the feature race the St James's Palace Stakes on a grey and rainy opening day of the prestigious meeting on Tuesday.
Duntle won twice at the Royal festival in 2012 and 2013 and her son showed all the character she had in holding off first the favourite Too Darn Hot and then King of Comedy who came from the clouds but just too late.
He completed a double for trainer Aidan O'Brien -- welcoming home his 67th Royal Ascot winner -- and jockey Ryan Moore having won the Coventry Stakes earlier with Arizona.
"Fair play to Aidan because he phoned me up on Monday morning to speak about putting him in the race and I said, 'when you supplement them (the owners paid £45,000 $56,000 but won over £240,000), they have to win!'" said Moore.
Two stalwarts of Royal Ascot were present in Queen Elizabeth II -- dressed in a blue ensemble -- and probably the greatest jockey of all time Lester Piggott.
The 83-year-old -- who rode a record 116 winners at the meeting including a record 11 Ascot Gold Cups -- attended a ceremony to unveil a statue of him.
"It is a fantastic statue and it has a geat likeness to me," said Piggott known as 'The Longfellow'.
Blue Point became the 12th horse to win the Group One sprint the King's Stand Stakes for a second time as the Charlie Appleby-trained runner denied favourite Battaash for the second successive year.
For winning jockey James Doyle it was a bonus ride as regular jockey and close friend William Buick is sidelined due to concussion.
"He is a real tough warrior (Blue Point)...this gives me immense satisfaction because I have ridden him twice before and it didn't really work out," said Doyle.
In one of the more international fields of the week the runners from Australia, the United States -- Imprimis ridden by Frankie Dettori -- and New Zealand failed to trouble the judge.
- 'Very babyish' -
Whilst Battaash failed to go one better than last year Lord Glitters made no mistake in the Queen Anne Stakes coming from last to first.
The 14/1 shot, ridden by Danny Tudhope, became only the third horse aged six and older since 1946 to win the Group One contest with his task made easier when last year's winner Accidental Agent refused to leave the starting gate.
Tudhope, 33, denied another outsider Beat The Bank, who came agonisingly close to giving Thai owners King Power Racing -- also owners of Leicester City -- their first winner at Royal Ascot.
"David (O'Meara the trainer) told me to ride him as cold as I can and to be brave," said Tudhope, who rounded off the day with another winner Addeybb in the Wolferton Stakes.
For O'Meara it was his fourth winner at the meeting but by far the most prestigious.
"I am just a small cog in what I do," he said modestly.
For owners Geoff and Sandra Turnbull it was their most memorable moment in the 'Sport of Kings'.
"My Dad has been in this game for 20 years and to win at Royal Ascot is the pinnacle," said their son Nick.
O'Brien's peerless record in the two-year-old Coventry Stakes continued as he won it for the seventh time with Arizona, who edged the Richard Hannon Junior-trained Threat.
"He was very babyish today and still came home so well," said 49-year-old O'Brien.
? 2019 AFP