Ribchester impresses in Queen Anne Stakes

Ribchester (right) on his way to winning the Queen Anne Stakes
Image: Ribchester (right) on his way to winning the Queen Anne Stakes

Hot favourite Ribchester claimed top honours in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Richard Fahey's Godolphin-owned four-year-old was all the rage for the first race of the week in Berkshire following an impressive display in last month's Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

William Buick was content to take his time aboard the 11-10 market leader as his stable companion and pacemaker Toscanini took the field along at a furious gallop.

Toscanini predictably faded racing inside the final two furlongs and Ribchester was sent about his business.

Mutakayyef emerged from the pack to throw down a strong challenge, but Ribchester, who drifted slightly to his left when asked to quicken, held him at bay by a length and a quarter.

Deauville was a close-up third ahead German challenger Spectre in fourth.

Buick said: "I said after the Lockinge he's very versatile. He's an exceptional miler, of course he's got lots of quality but he travels so well and sees it out so well.

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"You've got to hand it to the horse, he's an absolute jockey's dream.

"It doesn't get much better than this, it's the biggest week in our sport and to wear the royal blue for Sheikh Mohammed here is absolutely fantastic."

It has been a tumultuous few weeks for Godolphin with chief executive John Ferguson resigning, and Buick added: "We are all working towards one goal, we all want to be in the winner's enclosure and that is what Sheikh Mohammed deserves."

Ribchester won in a course-record time, and Fahey said: "I'm delighted he won, William said he's got huge gears and said that he was never in trouble. He gets the trip well and that makes him a good horse.

"It was not really the plan to go that quick, but in fairness I did tell Paul (Hanagan) to send his (Toscanini) out and set him alight.

"He's got to be the best I've trained, especially breaking the track record here today, and that is not being disrespectful to the other horses.

"The Sussex Stakes is where he has to go as the French race he won last year (Prix Jacques le Marois) is only 10 days after so it will be one or the other.

"I was hoping that he'd stay further than a mile but we don't need to now.

"It was good pressure to have, he was not odds-on in the end and he was the right horse to have the pressure with as sometimes you get favourites that can't win.

"I'm in a happy place at the minute."

William Haggas said of the runner-up: "He ran really well and travelled well, but Ribchester was better than us on the day.

"He loves that fast ground and I'd imagine we'll go to the Sussex Stakes next. He needs racing now as he's not had many (runs) but he does go well fresh."

Aidan O'Brien said of Deauville: "We're delighted with the run, Ryan (Moore) didn't have much to say but we're delighted."

Melbourne Cup winner Michelle Payne saw her mount Kaspersky perform above expectations in fifth.

"The atmosphere here is something I'll remember forever. Ribchester's a champion," said Payne.

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