RICHARD Fahey’s final instructions to jockey William Buick before Ribchester’s run in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot could not have been more precise: “Get the job done”.
He had no need to worry, the nosebanded horse winning yesterday’s opening race in some style and providing Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation with the first leg of a treble on the card.
In doing so, the victor paid a handsome compliment to the form of Galileo Gold, who won the St James’s Palace Stakes on Tuesday under an inspired Frankie Dettori.
After all, Ribchester could only finish third to Galileo Gold in Newmarket’s 2000 Guineas and this success sets up the possibility of a rematch in next month’s Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
However don’t under-estimate Ribchester’s win – the horse was carrying a weight penalty courtesy of his win in last season’s Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury after Godolphin had made former owner David Armstrong an offer that was too good to refuse.
It also vindicated Malton-based Fahey’s decision to swerve a very competitive St James’s Palace Stakes, featuring three Classic winners, in favour of the shorter Jersey Stakes over seven furlongs.
“Mentally, the horse is a huge baby and still backward, and he’s going to make a lovely four-year-old,” said the trainer who was recording his fifth Royal Ascot winner.
“He’s a decent horse, but we chickened out and took the easy option. I was worried because this race was quite competitive, but he destroyed them.
“It looked good after Galileo Gold won, and English Guineas form is always good – but I felt today we had a better horse than we did in the Guineas. Once he relaxed I felt it would take a good one to beat him. He picks up so well.”
As for Buick, the Northern Racing College graduate couldn’t believe the ease with which his mount travelled.
“Richard said just to get the job done and that is what he did. He has really grown up. He hit the front going very well and I ran out of horses to follow,” he said.
“I thought it was a very good performance. He’s given me a great feel – he’s won well. I wanted to keep it simple on him. I could have taken a chance and waited but look – it’s Royal Ascot and I hadn’t had a winner yet.”
The Dettori-ridden Lady Aurelia, trained in America by Wesley Ward, won the Queen Mary Stakes for two-year-old fillies by an astonishing seven lengths that had to be seen to be believed – the one disappointment is York’s Nunthorpe Stakes does not feature on the list of intended engagements.
Godolphin’s Usherette, trained in France, took the Duke of Cambridge Stakes before My Dream Boat sprang a major surprise in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes for trainer Clive Cox and jockey Adam Kirby, their second major win of the week after Profitable took sprint honours on Tuesday. Hambleton trainer Kevin Ryan’s The Grey Gatsby was a gutsy fourth on ground softer than ideal.
A good day for Godolphin got even better when Portage won the Royal Hunt Cup under James Doyle while Dettori took the finale on Persuasive – the Italian is now the leading jockey at the meeting with three winners.