Highland Reel brilliant in Coronation Cup at Epsom
Last Updated: 02/06/17 3:53pm
Highland Reel provided Aidan O'Brien with an eighth victory in the Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom.
Despite the late arrival of the winner and his stablemates following a technical fault with their plane back in Ireland, the five-year-old was the 9/4 favourite to claim the fifth Group One success of his globetrotting career.
Ryan Moore kept things simple aboard the market leader, sending him straight to the lead, and gradually upped the ante.
Hawkbill ranged alongside racing inside the final two furlongs and the pair knuckled down to fight it out.
Despite looking a little uncomfortable on the cambered track, Highland Reel found plenty for pressure and began to assert.
Hawkbill's fellow Godolphin-owned runner Frontiersman also looked ill at ease on the track but finished strongly to come through and grab second, a length and three-quarters behind the winner.
O'Brien said: "I'm delighted with him, he's obviously gone through a lot today, and just before the race, but Ryan gave him a great ride. He hadn't run since Dubai (in March), but he was brilliant.
"What happened this morning was unavoidable, the lads were doing their best but things weren't running smoothly.
"It's just thanks to everyone, Pat (Keating, travelling head lad) was delighted when he got him here and tacked up and he was very happy.
"It's a big team effort and I'm thankful to them all for making it happen.
"He's an amazing horse this, he's tough, he has tactical speed and he stays."
O'Brien added: "He has the option of the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot and then on to the King George, but I suppose we'll see how he comes out of this and see whether he goes to the Hardwicke or straight for the King George."
O'Brien's charge was cut to 3-1 from 5-1 by RaceBets for the Hardwicke, making him joint-favourite with Jack Hobbs.
Charlie Appleby said of Frontiersman and Hawkbill: "I'm delighted with the pair of them.
"Frontiersman was taking a big step up from a handicap, but his homework had been so good and he's got a pedigree to die for, he's a typical Dubawi and getting better with age.
"We were not coming here confident, but we paid £25,000 to supplement for a reason as we wanted to have a crack.
"James (Doyle) said his inexperienced just caught him out, but he saw it out well and galloped to the line. We'll look to something like the Hardwicke as the next stop with him.
"I was delighted with Hawkbill, too, but he loves soft ground. It would not worry me coming back in trip. William (Buick) said he's got a gear, but the winner is a good horse. William went for a battle, but the winner found again.
"What he proved at Newbury was he can quicken on soft ground when others can't. He's done himself proud there."