Mohaafeth was among the favourites for the Cazoo Derby earlier this month, but heavy rain on the Friday turned the ground softer than trainer William Haggas felt his charge wanted.
Having agonised over the decision to run, Haggas took him out just over an hour before the race and immediately nominated this contest as his alternative target – and from the point of view of connections the late switch was justified.
Mohaafeth had to survive a stewards' inquiry after he hung right towards the rail and hampered Roman Empire but, after a tense wait, he was confirmed as the winner.
Haggas was delighted with the one-and-three-quarter-length victory but was not getting too carried away.
He said: “He’s only up to Group 3 from listed, but he’s a pretty good horse.
“I think it probably didn’t go his way today. Jim was concerned about the horse of Roger Varian’s (Movin Time) who was up the front and he was quite far behind and he said, by his own admission, he’d gone a bit early, but the horse kept going, that’s the main thing.
“He did run across the track a bit, but he’s probably used up a lot of petrol getting there.”
Mohaafeth was immediately halved in price to 8-1 by Coral for next month’s Eclipse, but Haggas was in no rush to map out plans.
“I think if he’s going to go one way, he’ll go shorter not longer. I was always concerned about the trip in the Derby, but there is only one of them and then when it rained it became, for me, an easier decision not to run him. That’s history now, let’s move on.
“He’s won a Listed and a Group 3, he’s not tackled an older horse yet so he’s got a lot to prove, but I think he’s got some talent.
“I think he’s pretty good. I don’t make comparisons with others, but he’s a useful horse. He’s always been a nice horse and he’s bred to be a good horse. I thought he looked great today and he doesn’t look a stayer physically.
“He’s in the Eclipse, he’s in lots of things and will continue to be in lots of things and we’ll see where we go. That’s obviously the first target, if there is one, but it can’t be good to soft, soft or anything like that – he’s a quick ground horse.”
Perfect Power prevails in Norfolk thriller
Perfect Power prevailed in a blanket finish to the Norfolk Stakes as Paul Hanagan recorded an emotional success at Royal Ascot.
Trained in North Yorkshire by Richard Fahey, the son of first-season sire Ardad only got off the mark at Hamilton eight days ago.
The field split into two groups, with Go Bears Go making a bold bid on the far side, while Wesley Ward’s Lucci led the other group.
Perfect Power had plenty to do entering the final furlong, but he kept on powerfully in the stands' side group and just got the verdict by head from Go Bears Go, with the Bryan Smart-trained Project Dante a nose back in third.
Hanagan said: “I must have asked about 10 jockeys pulling up who won! I wasn’t quite sure as they were so far away on the other side, but I think the way I finished the race, I had every chance because he really powered home.
“I thought we had a chance because he’s got such a good temperament, I think he takes it all in which you really need at Ascot because there were a few down there getting warm. He was very laid back.”
Fahey said:“We were very sweet on the horse. He came out of Tally Ho Stud at the Breeze Ups so we haven’t had him long. Roger O’Callaghan needs to take a bit of credit for this. We took him up on the gallops on the grass and he literally destroyed some of my two-year-olds.
“He was a little unlucky first time, he missed the kick and did everything wrong, but it probably worked in our favour as it meant we got a second run into him which I thought was vital. I was quietly confident he’d run a big race, but I was looking at going over six before a long discussion with everybody.
“I haven’t thought about the future, but I’d have thought we’ll be looking at six furlongs now.”
Loving Dream springs a surprise in the Ribblesdale
Loving Dream caused an 18-1 upset for John and Thady Gosden and jockey Robert Havlin in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Loving Dream was the apparent second-string from the Gosden yard given Frankie Dettori was on Gloria Mundi, but the daughter of Gleneagles took a huge step forward from her fifth place in the Lingfield Oaks Trial.
Running in the famous pink colours of Lordship Stud, she hit the front a long way out and there were plenty of challengers queueing up behind her.
Deep inside the final furlong it was Roger Varian’s previously unbeaten Eshaada who broke free of the pack deep inside the final furlong to throw down the biggest challenge. However, to Loving Dream’s credit she found more for pressure and held on to win by three-quarters of a length.
It was just a second win at the meeting for Havlin after Ardad’s victory in the Windsor Castle in 2016. He said: “It’s great to ride another one, especially for the boss, and the filly has done well. I thought she was overpriced on the day and that has been proven to be so.
“She was drawn 12 so my hand was forced, we thought there was probably going to be early pace and then it would settle down, so if I tried to get a mid-div position I would have been caught wide, so myself and William (Buick, on Dubai Fountain) just kept forward and kept kicking until we got there.
“Luckily we got a nice break and saved plenty for the straight.”
Gosden senior said: “Robert committed early and made best use of her stamina. Eshaada came late, everyone had a go but she’s very game and very honest and it was a wonderful positive ride by Robert, it really was.
“Trevor and Libby (Harris), the breeders, you go through a lot of agony as breeders but they’ve been fantastic for the game and they’ve never given up and to go and win this race is pretty special.”