Bold move pays off as Circus Maximus wins St James's Palace Stakes

Bold move pays off as Circus Maximus wins St James's Palace Stakes
Circus Maximus, ridden by jockey Ryan Moore, on his way to winning St James's Palace Stakes at Ascot Racecourse. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Circus Maximus showed his adaptability when dropping back in trip to land the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Last seen finishing sixth in the Investec Derby at Epsom, the Galileo colt needed to be supplemented at a cost of £45,000 for the Group One contest over a mile.

Having won the Dee Stakes over an extended 10 furlongs before his tilt at Classic glory, it was seen as a bold move by Aidan O'Brien running him over half a mile less.

Wearing blinkers for the first time, Ryan Moore was happy to take a lead off Fox Champion before making his bid for home with two furlongs to run.

As Irish Guineas winner Phoenix Of Spain dropped away, the favourite Too Darn Hot became embroiled in a battle with Circus Maximus (10-1).

Having seen off last year's champion juvenile, it was his John Gosden-trained stablemate King Of Comedy who flew home to get closest at the line, but Circus Maximus held on by a neck, with Too Darn Hot three-quarters of a length away in third.

O'Brien said: "Derrick (Smith), John (Magnier) and Michael (Tabor) all decided between themselves (to run in this race) and at 11.45am (on the day of supplementary entries) they let us know that they were thinking of doing this and we ran with it.

"It's hard to believe and we're just privileged to be a small part of it.

"It was a big challenge for the horse and it was a very difficult one to deal with - coming back (in trip) like that - and that's why he had the blinkers on, because he didn't have much time to learn."

Frankie Dettori said of the beaten Too Darn Hot: "He came there to win and I hit the front, but in the last 100 yards he didn't have the legs for it.

"I think the stiff mile at Ascot was too much."

Earlier, O'Brien wasted little time in claiming his first winner at this year's meeting as Arizona struck gold in the Coventry Stakes.

The No Nay Never colt, who had looked a hugely exciting prospect when scoring by eight lengths at the Curragh last month, was a heavily-backed 15-8 favourite to provide his trainer with a ninth win in this prestigious juvenile prize.

His supporters will have been sweating for much of the contest, with Arizona seemingly struggling to go the early gallop, but he ultimately came strongly in the hands of Ryan Moore to narrowly deny his main market rival, the Richard Hannon-trained Threat.

PA

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