Royal Ascot: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid all praise for Blue Point after repeat of King’s Stand Stakes victory
Trainer Charlie Appleby calls Blue Point 'a finished article' for winning Group 1 race two years in a row
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said Blue Point benefited from his time in Dubai before returning to Royal Ascot to win the King’s Stand Stakes for the second year in a row.
Blue Point replicated his victory of the Group 1 race from 12 months ago, but this time it came under James Doyle who was deputising for Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby’s first jockey William Buick.
Buick is recovering from a head injury.
“The weather and his time in Dubai helped him, and he returned to Royal Ascot as a stronger horse,” Sheikh Mohammed told the post-race television interview on Day 1 of the festival meeting on Tuesday.
“It’s always nice to have a Group 1 winner at Royal Ascot. It’s a very good result because everyone wants to have a winner at Royal Ascot.”
Doyle had Blue Point quickly out of Gate 1 and kept to the centre of the track before being challenged by Battaash, last year’s runner-up, in the final 200 metres. Blue Point, though, stayed strong to win by a length-and-three-quarters to repeat last year's one-two finish.
In fact, it would have been a one-two-three repeat had Soldier’s Call not edged out Mabs Cross to finish third.
Doyle said the win gave him “immense satisfaction” after failing to win atop Blue Point on two previous occasions.
“I didn't mess it up because I've ridden him twice before when it didn't really work out,” he said. “William [Buick] gets on so well with him but we've done plenty of homework with him.
“Charlie [Appleby] said to me a few weeks ago to pop on him because he is tricky, and that's why he's a great trainer," he added. “He thinks about all these little things.
"He's beaten Battaash each time they've met so I wasn't really worried about him, but I was worried about the rain. Luckily it's stayed off and didn't affect the ground until now.
“It's a real team effort and it'll be tough for William watching this, but I think it softens the blow it's one of his best mates riding his horses while he's off.”
An emotional Appleby, who had Blue Point under his care since he was a two-year-old, described the horse as an old warrior in the yard.
• Royal Ascot: Prize money, pageantry, races and how to watch on TV
“I stood there with William, and I said: 'William, are you happy with where we are', and he said 'he's grand'. When he comes under the pump, you always know he's going to [succeed],” Appleby said.
“Battaash travelled supremely well, and at one point I thought we'd have to dig really deep. But once Battaash and him got into a duel, I knew our fella wasn't going to lie down.
“To do back-to-back wins in this race is fantastic, as I knew he's going to have a great career at [the] stud [farm] when he retires at the end of the season.”
Blue Point arrived at Royal Ascot having won all his three starts at Meydan Racecourse, including the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup Night in March.
“During the winter [in Dubai], we saw how much more professional he was,” Appleby added. “He's strengthened, and when William got off him after his first start in Dubai, he said he was a different animal. He's the finished article now.
“I've got a great team behind me and it's great for Sheikh Mohammed and his family being here.”
The opening Group 1 Queen Ann Stakes went to Lord Glitters, trained by David O'Meara and ridden by Danny Tudhope.
Runner-up in the race 12 months ago, the six-year-old gelding by Whipper came from last to edge out Beat The Bank by a neck and One Master a further three-quarter of a length in third.
Aidan O'Brien’s Circus Maximus under Ryan Moore landed the day’s third Group 1 prize, the St James’s Palace Stakes, in a thrilling finish from King Of Comedy and Too Darn Hot.
Updated: June 18, 2019 10:03 PM