Fresh from finishing third in the National Hunt trainers’ championship, Alan King sent out his first Group winner on the level as Shipmaster landed the Woodcote Stud Sagaro Stakes at Ascot.
The two-mile event has been won by notable stayers such as Double Trigger and Alcazar in recent years, and King’s son of Slip Anchor added his name to the roll of honour with a gritty display under Richard Hughes.
Soapy Danger valiantly tried to make all but started to wilt in the final furlong as the 4-1 winner stayed on well up the rail to deny Peppertree Lane by a short head.
King said: “This is probably his day. I only declared him 48 hours ago in the hope the rain would come, and it did.
“He came to Royal Ascot two years ago and ran a blinder to finish sixth in the Queen’s Vase, but he got jarred up there and I was lucky to get him back.
“I will leave him in the Chester Cup but we’ll have to see about that, and he will go hurdling again next winter.”
VC Bet trimmed the five-year-old into 10-1 from 16s for next week’s marathon.
Cesare repeated his win of 12 months ago with a facile success in the Britain’s Got Talent Paradise Stakes, prompting Coral to trim him to 3-1 favouritism for the Juddmonte Lockinge next month.
The galloping companion of James Fanshawe’s stanjamesuk.com 1000 Guineas hope Spacious was sent off the 11-8 favourite and made a mockery of his rivals under Jamie Spencer to score by a hard-held length.
Fanshawe said: “He won this race nicely last year, but I was concerned as he had a 7lb penalty this time.
“He loves Ascot and the straight track though, and he is a good horse to have around as he loves it.
“I hope to take him to the Lockinge now and then head back here for the Queen Anne.”
Fanshawe and Spencer later doubled up as Gimcrack winner Sir Gerry (4-1) bounced back from his disappointing run in the Greenham to sweep from last to first and claim the O’Connell London Wasps Pavilion Stakes by two lengths.
Fanshawe said: “I think he just needed his first run, and it was over seven furlongs on testing ground.
“His run that day stopped us going for the Guineas, which is good as we now know he is a sprinter.
“We now know he has trained on but I will have to sit and look at the options as he will have to take on the older horses and there aren’t that many options.”
Rosaleen boosted the Nell Gwyn form ahead of this weekend’s Classics as the 15-8 favourite stayed on best of all to claim the X Factor Stakes.
Brian Meehan’s filly had been beaten into fourth behind leading 1000 Guineas contender Infallible at Newmarket, and opened her account for the season as Frankie Dettori punched her home by three-quarters of a length.
Meehan said: “I was pleased with her there. She improved from Newmarket and I will now look at what was the Lupe (the Height Of Fashion Stakes) at Goodwood next month.
“With the way she was finishing there, I think a step up in trip will suit.”
Dettori went on to team up with fellow Italian Luca Cumani and the pair plundered the Keltbray Handicap with Royal Ascot-bound Bankable, who obliged as the 11-8 favourite.
Cumani said: “He was very big and needed that and it was class alone that got him home.
“He’ll have one more run and then it will be the Hunt Cup, but he wouldn’t want fast ground.”
Baycat is another heading back to the track in June with Johnny Portman eyeing a juvenile event for the son of One Cool Cat after he struck as the 11-4 joint favourite in the Ascot Annual Badgeholders’ Conditions Stakes.