Royal Ascot 2017: Highland Reel wins Prince of Wales's Stakes for Aidan O'Brien

Highland Reel at Royal Ascot
Highland Reel is cooled down with water after his sixth Group One win

Highland Reel showed his class to win the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot for trainer Aidan O'Brien.

The 9-4 shot, ridden by Ryan Moore, fought past runner-up Decorated Knight, with Ulysses in third.

Highland Reel prevailed by one and a quarter lengths for the sixth Group One victory of his career and the 300th top-level triumph for his trainer.

Coming 19 days after his Coronation Cup win at Epsom, it was O'Brien's first success of the 2017 Royal meeting.

There were two French victories earlier in the day with Qemah winning the Duke of Cambridge Stakes after Le Brivido took the Jersey Stakes.

Battling victory for Highland Reel

Highland Reel showed his toughness once again as he secured a victory which took his career prize money to just short of the £6m mark.

The five-year-old sat on the heels of early leader Scottish but was briefly passed by Ulysses and Decorated Knight before battling back.

"He's an incredible horse. He has pace, courage, tactical speed," said O'Brien.

Highland Reel won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last year and later in 2016 landed the Breeders' Cup Turf in the United States.

Moore said: "This lad has been everywhere but he keeps coming back. He's so tough, he's got a marvellous attitude."

Jack Hobbs, the 2-1 favourite, looked to be in contention but faded to finish last.

Ryan Moore and Aidan O'Brien
Moore and O'Brien celebrate after Highland Reel's eighth career win

Analysis

BBC racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght:

I won't be the only person kicking myself for not having a few quid on Highland Reel.

Not only were there doubts over the good to firm going and the mile and a quarter distance for Jack Hobbs, but Highland Reel is almost always simply magnificent.

Whatever the continent (he's won in the US and Hong Kong too) and whatever the drama (he arrived at Epsom with just minutes to spare before taking the Coronation Cup), this horse can be relied upon practically always to perform.

That's nearly £6m in prize money, thus making him Aidan O'Brien's biggest earner.

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The Queen at Royal Ascot
The Queen, after changing to yellow from a blue outfit at parliament, travelled to Ascot without the Duke of Edinburgh who was admitted to hospital as a precautionary measure on Tuesday night with an infection

The Queen travelled from the State Opening of Parliament to Ascot and witnessed an afternoon sprinkled with international victories.

French double on day two

Qemah ran out a second French winner of the day when landing the Duke of Cambridge Stakes following the earlier success of Le Brivido.

The 5-2 favourite, ridden by Gregory Benoist for Jean-Claude Rouget, held off the fast-finishing outsider Aljazzi by three quarters of a length.

It was a second Royal Ascot win for the four-year-old Qemah, owned by Al Shaqab Racing, after victory in the Coronation Stakes last year.

Compatriot Usherette, successful in 2016, struggled for room before closing to finish another neck away.

Qemah at Royal Ascot
Qemah won for the second year running at Royal Ascot

Le Brivido was well backed for the Jersey Stakes and justified the confidence.

The 2-1 favourite, trained by Andre Fabre, held on under Pierre-Charles Boudot to deny O'Brien's 66-1 outsider Spirit Of Valor.

Happy Like A Fool, the odds-on favourite trained in the United States by Wesley Ward, had to settle for second as Heartache (5-1) won the Queen Mary Stakes.

Winning trainer Clive Cox once again showed his aptitude for handling sprinters, with jockey Adam Kirby making use of his mount's high draw.

"She's got a big future, she's very special," said Cox.

There were jubilant scenes in the winner's enclosure for owners the Hot To Trot Syndicate, which boasts 75 members.

Jockey Martin Dwyer guided Zhui Feng to a front-running victory in the Royal Hunt Cup.

The four-year-old colt gave trainer Amanda Perrett her first Royal Ascot victory for 17 years.

American trainer Ward, successful with Lad Aurelia on Tuesday, celebrated a second win of the 2017 Royal Ascot meeting as Con Te Partiro caused an upset in the Sandringham Handicap.

The 20-1 chance, given a typically patient ride by Irish jockey Jamie Spencer, came home ahead of the Ryan Moore-ridden Rain Goddess.

Josephine Gordon was 15th on favourite Gymnaste having earlier finished fifth in the Jersey Stakes aboard Dream Castle.

She was bidding to become only the second female jockey to ride a winner at Royal Ascot - 30 years on from Gay Kelleway.

Poldark star Eleanor Tomlinson
Poldark star Eleanor Tomlinson was among the celebrities at Ascot on Wednesday

Highlights on Thursday

Thursday is Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot with a crowd of about 65,000 expected at the Berkshire course.

The Gold Cup (16:20 BST) is the feature race where last year's winner Order Of St George will bid to follow up for trainer Aidan O'Brien.

O'Brien is seeking his eighth win in 12 years in the two-and-a-half mile contest.

Opposition includes dual Goodwood Cup winner Big Orange, trained by Michael Bell, and Ralph Beckett's 2015 St Leger winner Simple Verse.

The legendary racehorse Frankel could have his first Royal Ascot winner as a stallion on Thursday.

Mori, a daughter of Frankel and the brilliant mare Midday, runs for Sir Michael Stoute in the Ribblesdale Stakes (15:40).

The day begins with sprinters in the five-furlong Norfolk Stakes, including Ward's runner Mcerin.

Schedule

14:30: Norfolk Stakes (Group 2) 5f

15:05: Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3) 1 1/4m

15:40: Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2) 1½m

16:20: Gold Cup (Group 1) 2 1/2m

17:00: Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap) 1m

17:35: King George V Stakes 1½m

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