Soft ground at Royal Ascot serves Dashing Willoughby well in Queen’s Vase win

MUDLARK Dashing Willoughby galloped into contention for Doncaster’s St Leger this September when landing an attritional Queen’s Vase for trainer Andrew Balding and jockey Oisin Murphy.

Oisin Murhpy celebrates St Leger contender Dashing Willoughby's Royal Ascot win.

Rain-softened ground brought out the best in the winner from Aidan O’Brien’s Barbados and Nayef Road in third for Middleham trainer Mark Johnston.

“He loves the soft ground and stays well. We had a little hiccup on Saturday morning as he was very lame and had a blood blister in his foot,” said Balding.

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“The farrier and head lad worked through the night to get it right and happily it was right 12 hours later. I am delighted he has come good. I’m delighted for Mick and Janice (Mariscotti) as they have been loyal supporters for a while. I was pretty hopeful coming into the race. We will work back from the St Leger and sit down and discuss it with them where we go next.”

Oisin Murphy and Dashing Willoughby win the Queen's Vase on day two of Royal Ascot.

Murphy, 23, punched the air in celebration as Dashing Willoughby crossed the line – the season’s leading Flat rider was particularly pleased to ride a winner at the Royal meeting for Balding, who guided the early part of his career.

“I was thrilled with the way the race went,” he enthused. “This is the combination of all the hard work from the team at home. I thrive to do well at Royal Ascot as does every jockey riding and I was very fortunate to ride a horse capable of doing that today.

“I thought I was on the best horse, and I am delighted to ride a Royal Ascot winner for my first boss Andrew Balding. Dashing Willoughby is a son of Nathaniel and loves this ground – remember Nathaniel won a soft ground King George.”

Meanwhile, veteran trainer Sir Michael Stoute’s resurgence continued when Crystal Ocean landed the Group One Prince of Wales’s Stakes under Frankie Dettori, who committed early and was not for passing as the runner-up Magical challenged.

Move Swiftly ridden by jockey Daniel Tudhope. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

It was an 80th victory at the meeting for Stoute, already Royal Ascot’s most successful trainer. “He may be better at a mile-and-a-half, but he’s certainly a pretty good horse at a mile-and-a-quarter and he’s proved that today,” he said.

Elsewhere, there was a third winner at the meeting for North Yorkshire jockey Danny Tudhope when Move Swiftly won the Duke of Cambridge Stakes for trainer William Haggas, whose stable star, Sea Of Class, was earlier fifth to Crystal Ocean. She was unsuited by the deteriorating ground.

Thirsk trainer David Barron was narrowly denied Royal Hunt Cup success when Clon Coulis was beaten in a photo-finish by Afaak.