x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Trainer: Animal Kingdom distracted before race

Barry Irwin admits filly put Animal Kingdom off before big race at Royal Ascot.

John Velazquez riding Animal Kingdom.
John Velazquez riding Animal Kingdom.

Ascot, England // Barry Irwin said he felt as if he wanted to "hide in a closet" in the hour before the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on Tuesday after Animal Kingdom's coltish behaviour appeared to dash all hope of a debut victory for a US runner at the royal meeting.

Animal Kingdom finished a tame 11th of 13 runners after failing to settle under John Velazquez in the mile contest that opened the five-day meeting.

The Dubai World Cup winner will now head to Australia, where he will be charged out by Arrowfield Stud, before shuttling to Kentucky for Darley.

Elusive Kate was the only filly in the Group 1 contest, and Irwin, part-owner of the five-year-old stallion, maintains that Animal Kingdom appeared to want to start his stud duties a little earlier than was planned after the filly crossed paths with the five-year-old horse in the pre-parade ring.

"Animal Kingdom suddenly stopped, turning his head left as his nostrils flared while he took in a scent, and started acting stubborn," Irwin said.

"For the next 10 minutes or so, Animal Kingdom advertised his wares in the paddock prior to the first race."

Irwin added, in an interview with Thoroughbred Daily News: "I got sick to my stomach, because I knew exactly what was happening.

"I wished I could find a small closet to hide in for the next hour, because what was about to happen was not going to be pretty."

Animal Kingdom was ponied down to the start of the race and Velazquez struggled to contain his mount, who pulled markedly once the gates had opened.

It was the first time Animal Kingdom had finished outside the first two, apart from when he was injured in the 2011 Belmont Stakes and ended sixth.