Royal Ascot: Kingman & trainer John Gosden reign supreme

By Cornelius LysaghtBBC horse racing correspondent
Kingman won the St James's Palace Stakes on the opening day of the Royal meeting
Kingman won the St James's Palace Stakes on the opening day of the Royal meeting

When the runners cross the finishing line in the last race of each day, that's not the end of Royal Ascot.

Hundreds spill out into the car parks - especially when the weather is as fine as it was this time - to analyse the day's on-course action over a glass of something suitably stimulating.

And having done my fair share of wandering from generous host to generous host - car park 2 is Group One class - I can report one name is on the lips of a significant majority.

It was, of course, Kingman, brilliant winner of the St James's Palace Stakes, a race staged conveniently on the first afternoon so we had something to talk about for five evenings.

To be fair, all four of his trainer John Gosden's winners - The Fugue, Eagle Top and Richard Pankhurst were the others - put in memorable performances.

But the consensus was that the acceleration demonstrated by Kingman to dispose of not inconsiderable rivals when asked by his jockey James Doyle was of simply astounding quality.

I called it one of 'those' Royal Ascot moments, so special that it goes directly into the annals though one senior racing figure went somewhat further.

He opined that the son of the stallion Invincible Spirit was - Frankel apart - quite likely the best horse he'd seen in the modern era of Flat racing. Big words.

Like Frankel, who won the 2011 St James's Palace Stakes and, more impressively, the Queen Anne Stakes a year later, he is owned by Saudi Khalid Abdullah and is yet another gilt-edged product of the prince's Juddmonte Farms thoroughbred breeding empire.

Long the apple of Gosden's renowned eye, the colt was hot favourite for the Newmarket 2,000 Guineas on the back of a striking success in the Greenham Stakes trial at Newbury.

But the Guineas was messy and Kingman suffered his only defeat to date (in six races), leaving all involved privately crestfallen.

However, recompense came as stylishly as you like in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, a performance that was well and truly underlined at Ascot.

Gosden, himself in overdrive at the moment, likened the smoothness with which Kingman 'went through the gears' to that of a Formula One car.

Now, the next step is likely to be a clash with this year's Queen Anne Stakes winner - and defending champion - Toronado in July's Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.

Jockey Ryan Moore riding Telescope
Telescope put up a brilliant performance to win the Hardwicke Stakes

It may be early to attach too many fancy accolades to this fellow, but were he to smash Toronado at Goodwood - and he will be hot favourite to do so - we would need to urgently reassess.

Final thoughts about Royal Ascot revolve around Hardwicke Stakes winner Telescope, who is now bound for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes back at Ascot on 26 July, and his jockey Ryan Moore.

Telescope silenced the sceptics in jaw-dropping style and Moore was simply majestic all through the meeting, ending with six wins to make him runaway top jockey.

Michael Stoute - Telescope's handler - won the trainer's title for the first time since 2006, though his greatest training performance was, perhaps, a defeat.

To overcome Royal runner Estimate's muscle problems so she was only narrowly beaten by Leading Light while going for back-to-back Gold Cups was a terrific effort.

Meanwhile, a quick mention of quote of the week.

It came from the brilliant comedy actor Stephen Mangan who played Bertie Wooster - an English gentleman character in the PG Wodehouse stories - in a London West End play.

"I wish I'd come here before rehearsals," he said looking around while presenting a trophy amid the usual whirl of top hats and tails and fancy outfits. "It's just full of Bertie Woosters." What ho!


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