x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Rewilding wins Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot

A late burst and controlled by the experienced Frankie Dettori is enough to pip red-hot favourite So You Think.

Rewilding, right, timed his run on the final stretch to perfection.
Rewilding, right, timed his run on the final stretch to perfection.

Rewilding stamped himself as the best middle-distance colt in the world yesterday when he burst the bubble of the much-hyped So You Think in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.

Ridden by Frankie Dettori, Rewilding collared Ryan Moore and the former Australian champion in the dying strides of what was an epic battle.

Rewilding had not seen action since winning the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan racecourse on Dubai World Cup night, but was brought to peak perfection by his trainer, Mahmood al Zarooni.


“All the races give you pleasure but this is special because of the way that Rewilding was trained and prepared for this race after winning in Dubai,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, vice-president of the UAE, and ruler of Dubai.

“I was always hopeful Frankie would make it. It was a great race. It is such a beautiful sport. Mahmood had him in such great shape for this run and I think the best horse won.”

Not since Fantastic Light and Galileo duelled throughout the high summer of 2001 have the Godolphin and Coolmore teams provided such a thrilling piece of racing theatre.

Coolmore's pacemaker, Jan Vermeer, missed the kick and for a moment it seemed that So You Think would have to do the donkey work out front.

Joseph O’Brien, son of the colt’s trainer, Aidan, rousted Jan Vermeer along, so much so that by the time he entered the sweeping turn at Swinley Bottom he was a full eight lengths clear of the chasing pack, led by Debussy, the Godolphin pace-setter.

Ryan Moore clearly felt the pace was inadequate, and as Tom Queally had done aboard Frankel in the St James’s Palace Stakes on Tuesday he set about catching his pacemaker to emerge into the straight in the lead.

So You Think is used to the flat tracks in Australia, however, a feature that allowed him to get home over the 3,200m of Flemington where he finished third in the Melbourne Cup in November.

Where Moore is a relatively new talent on the British racing scene, Dettori has ridden up Ascot's hill many times before. The Italian knows every part of the Ascot track, having ridden all seven winners on a card here in 1996.  As he had also ridden consecutive Prince of Wales’s winners in 2000 and 2001, he did not panic for a second.

Dettori coaxed his partner to within a length of the giant Coolmore colt and inside the final 400m Rewilding was a willing partner in the chase and went on to win by a neck. Sri Putra, owned by Sultan Ahmad Shah, was third.

“That is one of the best fights there has been in a while,” said Dettori, who exploded into celebration as he crossed the line. “Two great champions fought to the finish. That was one of those Royal Ascot races that we’ll remember for a while. Rewilding does not get the recognition he deserves but he showed his true colours today.”

It was the fifth time Godolphin had won the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, but it was Zarooni’s first winner at the Royal Meeting.

This latest success comes on the back of his first British Classic winner after he saddled Blue Bunting to win the English 1,000 Guineas in May.

Despite his burgeoning CV, the 44-year-old Emirati was humble enough to defer responsibility for the win on Sheikh Mohammed.

“We always plan the races with His Highness and he said that we needed a fast pace so we put Debussy in there,” he said. “It is a dream to win a race like this, especially in England. The racing here is so good."

So You Think had built a reputation as a near-unbeatable colt in Australia where he had accumulated two victories in the Cox Plate, Australia’s premier middle-distance contest.  His two runs in Ireland this season were virtual walkovers, and as a result he came in to the race under-prepared.

“It was more my fault that anyone else’s that he got beaten,” said O'Brien. “All I can say is sorry. I probably didn’t get stuck into him enough at home and he had a heavy blow after the race.”

Rewilding is now set to race next in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes back at Ascot on July 23.