Blue Point completes rare Ascot double to share week's centre stage with Frankie Dettori

Marcus Armytage
The Telegraph
James Doyle riding Blue Point (blue) to win The Diamond Jubilee Stakes - Getty Images Europe
James Doyle riding Blue Point (blue) to win The Diamond Jubilee Stakes - Getty Images Europe

There are several contenders for Royal Ascot’s star of the week and while Frankie Dettori, was home and hosed for the human version long before drawing a last-day blank on Saturday, for the sheer degree of difficulty in winning two races within the five days, his equine counterpart must surely be Blue Point.

The Godolphin sprinter added Saturday's Diamond Jubilee Stakes, by a fast-diminishing head, to Tuesday’s somewhat easier King’s Stand Stakes to complete one of the rarer feats in racing, a double last achieved by the Australian raider Choisir in 2003. Before him it was Diadem 99 years ago.

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On Tuesday, Blue Point beat Battaash with a degree of ease but on Saturday, over an extra furlong, Kachy, a 33-1 shot, left the stalls like a bullet from a barrel and had opened up a three-length lead before they had gone 100 yards.

Two out, everyone except James Doyle on Blue Point was hard at work, but Blue Point’s willingness to please was almost his undoing as he sought to go after the leader.

In front at the furlong point and travelling well, Doyle was then reminded of why Ascot’s last furlong can often feel like Aintree’s at the end of the Grand National, even on a sprinter, as Blue Point began to get lonely and no doubt, at the end of his second race this week, weary.

Dream Of Dreams, ridden by Danny Tudhope, who was scenting a fifth Royal winner of the week, was the only other horse to get past Kachy and he was catching Blue Point with every stride inside the last 100 yards, but the winner stuck his neck out when he heard him coming to complete the famous double.

<span>The Queen congratulates jockey James Doyle after the Diamond Jubilee Stakes </span> <span>Credit: REX </span>
The Queen congratulates jockey James Doyle after the Diamond Jubilee Stakes Credit: REX

When asked whether it had been a difficult decision to run him a second time this week Sheikh Mohammed, who had earlier seen Pinatubo run out an impressive winner of the Chesham Stakes, said: “It was an easy decision. We just wanted to see him run again. It was marvellous.”

Charlie Appleby, the trainer, said: “We thought about it about a week ago and I said to His Highness, ‘If you’re happy I’ll leave him in on Saturday, it leaves us in a position where we can have a crack at it if we want to’. He’s going to retire at the end of the year, he is a superstar. Coming to Ascot he has always brought his A-game. His Highness made the call – it was sporting to bring both him and Masar here today.”

James Doyle, who has been standing in this week for William Buick, who is recovering from concussion, said: “He’s a horse you only dream about. He’s learned what the job is all about. He’s a complete professional. Kachy went a hell of a lick and he’s so genuine he was trying to run him down and then got a bit lonely out there.”

Masar, last year’s Derby winner having his first start since, was the one blip on Godolphin’s day. He made a so-so comeback after a year off in the Hardwicke nearly five lengths behind the winner, but there was a spectacular near-miss in the race when Nagano Gold, only the second ever Czech runner at Royal Ascot was beaten by just half-a-length by Defoe, the 11-4 favourite.

Racing in the Czech Republic is on a very small scale. I dare say Appleby trains as many horses as there are in the country. The five-year-old, a 25-1 shot ridden by Christophe Soumillon, was nearly brought down leaving the stalls, and trailed round in last place, before going past Masar like he was standing still and passing everything except the winner.

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is Nagano Gold’s long-term aim, but if they wanted another sporting chance at giant slaying they should bring him back to Ascot for the King George.

“He’s been running in France,” explained the owner-trainer Vaclav Luka’s racing manager Tomas Janda. “But he’s always been pulling very hard there [because the tempo of the races is usually slower] so we thought the British style of racing would suit him.”

Defoe, however, is now really getting his act together at this level, having broken his Group One duck in the Coronation Stakes. Saturday's race, though a Group Two, was a Group One in all but name.

“He’s come forward again from Epsom,” said trainer Roger Varian, who is also eyeing the King George and completed a double on the day with Cape Byron in the Wokingham. “He’s very straightforward, he tries, he’s relaxed, he’s getting better with age. He always had a good attitude as a colt but it was the owner’s decision to have him gelded but that will elongate his career.”

Dettori’s four-timer on Thursday will last in the memory a long time and his seven winners all told ensured he was the leading jockey at the meeting for the first time since 2004 while, though not as dominant as some years, Aidan O’Brien’s five winners earned him the leading trainer award for the 10th time.

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