Scenic Blast stars at Royal Ascot

Tuesday’s Royal Ascot programme had something for everyone.

Australia confirmed its rating as the sprint kings of the world when Scenic Blast (Scenic) won the G1 King’s Stand Stakes with a brilliant turn of foot from an outside barrier.

He joins Choisir (2003), Takeover Target (2006) and Miss Andretti’s (2007) as Royal Ascot winners in recent years but trainer Dan Morton won’t be tempted to run him against Takeover Target in the Golden Jubilee (G1 this Saturday.

“It was a super effort,” jockey Steven Arnold said.  “I probably could have waited a bit longer because I got there quite early but he was really strong and he put paid to them quickly.  Dan has done a magnificent job with this horse – to bring him halfway round the world and have him spot on.”

The King’s Stand capped off a remarkable year for former Durham Lodge stallion Scenic.  He sired Melbourne Cup winner Viewed and Morton’s G1 winners Scenic Blast (Lightning St and Newmarket Hcp) and Scenic Shot (Doomben Cup).

And just last Saturday, he was responsible for another stakes winning double in Perth with Universal Ruler (Belmont Sprint) and Grand Nirvana (Belmont Guineas).

Scenic Blast will now be set for the G1 July Cup (1200m) at Newmarket next month.

Odds-on favourite Mastercraftsman (Danehill Dancer) looked beaten in the St James’s Palace Stakes (G1) until Johnny Murtagh lifted him over the line to win by a neck.  Incredibly, Murtagh was suspended by stewards for excessive us of the whip!

“Mastercraftsman is just one of those great horses,” trainer Aidan O’Brien said.  “He’s becoming very like a Giant’s Causeway.  He’s an amazing horse with speed, stamina, and all ground comes alike to him.”

The result re-established Mastercraftsman as Europe’s best three-year-old miler.

The leading trainer-jockey team of Richard Hannon and Richard Hughes combined to win the Queen Anne Stakes (G1) with Paco Boy (Desert Style) and the Coventry Stakes (G2) with Canford Cliffs (Tagula).

Paco Boy had won the 2008 Prix de la Foret (G1) and the 2009 Sandown Mile (G2) but had disappointed when unplaced in the Lockinge Stakes (G1) at Newbury last time out.

Canford Cliffs brought off a massive plunge in the Coventry.  He had won a Newbury maiden on debut last month and improved again to score by six lengths second-up.  He will now be set for the July Stakes (G2).

“He wants looking after because he could be next year’s horse,” Hannon said  “The Coventry is a very hard race, but the way he won it was awesome.  I love this horse.”

Hughes was just as impressed.  “Canford Cliffs is a freak.  He’s by far the best horse I’ve ever ridden.  Just wait until I can get him in behind horses and you’ll see how good he is.”

History was made in the final race of the card on Tuesday when the Wesley Ward-trained Strike The Tiger (Tiger Ridge) became the first American-trained horse to win at Royal Ascot.  He led all the way under John Velazquez in the Windsor Castle Stakes.

The California-bred had won on debut at Churchill Downs in April but was sent off at 33-1.  “You watch this meeting on television so to win here is amazing,” Velazquez said.  “I thought the ground was a little quicker on the stands side so I moved him to the left and he kept finding a little more.”