Sole Power dispels doubts with second straight victory in King’s Stand Stakes
Royal Ascot, England // Sole Power defended his crown in the King’s Stand Stakes with panache on Tuesday, becoming the first horse to win the race in back-to-back runnings in 80 years.
On a blazing day in which the ground dried out sufficiently to bring Sole Power’s potent finishing kick into play, the seven year old came with his trademark late thrust to leave a high-class field of sprinters behind at Ascot Racecourse.
Jockey Richard Hughes was in last place as Stepper Point and Qatar Racing’s Hot Streak battled to get their heads in front with 400 metres left to run.
Once Hughes found a gap and Sole Power had obtained a clear run on the outside, he cut down his rivals in a matter of strides to win by a length and a quarter.
It was a stunning performance, and one that had trainer Edward Lynam searching for recognition for his stable’s flag-bearer.
In the aftermath of Sole Power’s win last year, a poor-quality video was uploaded to YouTube which suggested an electrical buzzer – to shock the horse into running faster – had been handed to Sarah Lynam, the trainer’s daughter, by jockey Johnny Murtagh in the winners’ enclosure.
After an investigation by the British Horseracing Authority, both Murtagh and Lynam were cleared.
“There was no buzzers,” he said. “He was the best horse in the race. Maybe he deserves his accolade of being a proper horse now.”
It was the 17th time Sole Power had run at the highest level, which includes the past three Al Quoz Sprints at Meydan Racecourse, and he will be turned out again on Saturday to face stablemate Slade Power in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
The strength of the Al Quoz Sprint form was underpinned by Medicean Man and Ahtoug, who were fourth and fifth, respectively, after their strong runs in Dubai in March, but Shea Shea was disappointing in 11th.
“He just ran flat. I do not know why, but we will see when we get him back to Newmarket,” trainer Mike de Kock said.
It was a tough afternoon for the South African trainer, who also saw Soft Falling Rain finish sixth behind Toronado in the Queen Anne Stakes.
Toronado is owned by Al Shaqab, and the racing operation of Qatar’s Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad followed up in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes with their recent purchase The Wow Signal under Frankie Dettori.
The stage was then set for Saeed Manana’s Night Of Thunder to cement his reputation as one of Europe’s finest three-year-old milers, but it was Prince Khalid Abdullah of Saudi Arabia’s Kingman who accelerated more quickly at the finish to take the St James’s Palace Stakes.
Hughes caused a surprise when he took the early lead on Night Of Thunder and the ploy looked to have worked. Jockey James Doyle was patient, however, saving his mount’s energy all the while before he unleashed a turn of foot similar to Sole Power to seal the deal.
“That was awesome. That’s the best way to describe it,” Doyle said. “It’s almost as if they can’t go quick enough for him. Even when you go, you feel like you’ve gone too soon. He’s got so much pace, he’s almost climbing over the back of them, wanting them to go quicker.”
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