x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Little Bridge proves to be a big hit at Royal Ascot

Hong Kong horse clinches King's Stand Stakes and Frankel sees off Excelebration with ease.

Zac Purton rides Little Bridge, left, to win The King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Zac Purton rides Little Bridge, left, to win The King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Ascot, England // Raiders from Hong Kong struggled to make an impact on World Cup night at Meydan Racecourse in March, but Little Bridge began to redress the issue by winning the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot yesterday.

Ridden by the Australian jockey Zac Purton, Little Bridge led almost from the start and came home by three-quarters of a length from Prince Khalid Abdullah's Bated Breath. Sole Power, who was second in the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai in March, was third.

Little Bridge is the second horse from Hong Kong to win at the royal meeting; Cape Of Good Hope landed the Golden Jubilee Stakes in 2005. The six year old also became the seventh horse trained outside Britain and Ireland to win the Group 1 contest in the past decade.

"As you all saw today, Little Bridge is a straight-track specialist so I knew it would suit him," Purton said, dismissing the suggestion that trainer Danny Shum had chosen the five-furlong race to avoid Black Caviar in the Diamond Jubilee on Saturday. "He is up there with the best I have ridden and has given me a great thrill.

"This is really good for Hong Kong racing as our horses have travelled abroad this year and fired a few blanks."

With Sole Power running such a solid race, connections of Ortensia were left scratching their heads as to why their mare, who beat the Irish horse at Meydan, finished ninth.

"It's just massively disappointing," said the trainer Paul Messara. "She was at least six lengths off where I thought she would be. She was involved in a bit of scrimmaging early on and perhaps she didn't like the ground. I'll have a look at her fetlock tomorrow morning but she'll hang around for sure and run in the July Cup as planned."

Prince Khalid was not at Ascot because he was in Saudi Arabia following the death and burial of Crown Prince Nayef. Thus, he did not see Bated Breath's game performance, and neither was he on hand to see Frankel put in the performance of his career.

Frankel opened the meeting with a blistering effort in the Queen Anne Stakes and strode clear of Excelebration, his regular rival, by an easy 11 lengths.

It was the four-year-old colt's 11th consecutive success and firmly threw down the gauntlet to Black Caviar to pull out a special performance in three day's time.

Tom Queally settled his mount off the pace set by Bullet Train, his part brother, who was bracketed by Mickael Barzalona on Godolphin's Helmet and Joseph O'Brien on Excelebration.

Frankel was stuck in a pocket between those horses and Queally could barely contain his partner as they approached three furlongs from home.

Queally angled out Frankel, who immediately responded and bounded clear of Excelebration, who began to tire. From there it was simply a matter of how big would Frankel's winning margin be as he sauntered all the way to the line.

It was the fifth time Frankel had raced against Excelebration and the combined winning margin prior to yesterday's mismatch stood at 15.25 lengths.

"It's just a demolition again. He was awesome," Queally said. "This year everyone has latched on to and grasped what he is all about.

"We had a plan to go on when we did and it worked perfectly. It didn't surprise me that he won by that far. If he was to improve any more he'd be in Legoland."

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