Aidan O’Brien has aimed high, over a variety of trips, with the Fastnet Rock four-year-old.
He was pitched into Group One company on just his second ever start in the July Cup last season yet he ran in the Eclipse over 10 furlongs in July.
Back down to a mile, Joseph O’Brien moved him into the lead on entering the final furlong and he was not hard pressed to beat Mick Halford’s filly Raydara by three-quarters of a length.
“I’m delighted with him as he’s lazy and only does the minimum,” said O’Brien snr of the evens favourite
“That will do his confidence good. He’s well entered up, and will not mind travelling as he’s hardened and seasoned.
“That’s lovely summer ground, and it’s rare that we get it. It’s a credit to them here.”
Paddy Power cut the winner to 20-1 from 33s for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.
The O’Brien’s teamed up earlier in the card to win the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund (C & G) Maiden with 4-11 favourite Unicorn.
Dermot Weld’s Juliette Fair (2-1) created a favourable impression when waltzing to victory in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Fillies Maiden.
“She has progressed well but would prefer an ease in the ground as most Dark Angel’s do,” said Weld.
“Pat (Smullen) is confident that she has plenty of speed, and we’ll probably stick to six furlongs.
“She could go for something like the Round Tower Stakes (at the Curragh), although that comes up quick enough in just over two weeks’ time.”
- The two best three-year-olds in Europe are on course to clash in next week’s Juddmonte International at York after Golden Horn and Gleneagles featured among 10 remaining entries at the confirmation stage.
Ascot and Goodwood’s loss is York’s gain, with the Derby and Eclipse winner set to tackle the dual 2000 Guineas hero over 10 furlongs, as long as the ground is not too soft.
John Gosden’s Golden Horn was due run in the King George at Ascot but was pulled out just hours before, while the Aidan O’Brien-trained Gleneagles missed the Sussex Stakes which had been his aim since being victorious in the Irish Guineas.
A third top-class three-year-old in the race is Roger Charlton’s Time Test, one of the most impressive winners of the week at Royal Ascot and owned by sponsor Khalid Abdullah.
Charlton said: “He’s got to work on Friday and, if he does that well and comes out of it, yes, he’s all on course.
“I’m quite pleased he (O’Brien) is running Gleneagles, actually. Gleneagles is a dual Guineas winner and we’ve got a Derby-Eclipse (Golden Horn) winner as well.
“It’s going to be a four-or five-horse race. Golden Horn will have to make the running. Gleneagles may not get the trip. It would be no disgrace to be third. If we can finish in front of one of them, or both of them, even better.”
The elder brigade is headed by Kevin Ryan’s The Grey Gatsby, second in the race last year to Australia but ultimately no match for Golden Horn in the Eclipse at Sandown.