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Coronet, Benbatl’s Royal Ascot victories flatter Derby, Oaks

There were some remarkable performances by the 3-year-olds on the middle day of the Royal Ascot meeting, with victories by Benbatl and Coronet massively flattering the results of the 3-year-old Classics at Epsom. Writer Bob Kieckhefer gives us the lowdown, coverage presented by Fasig-Tipton’s Sept. 10 Turf Showcase

The Ribblesdale

Coronet, stuck on the rail and behind horses at mid-stretch, rallied smartly to the outside and out-finished Mori to win the Ribblesdale (G2) for 3-year-old fillies by a neck. Hertford Dancer, who appeared to have the race in the bag with 100 yards left, suddenly ran out of petrol and settled for third, beaten another length.

Coronet, a Dubawi filly owned and bred by Denford Stud, finished fifth in the Investec Oaks (G1) at Epsom — a disappointment after going 2-for-2 as a juvenile. Trainer John Gosden still had questions after the Oaks but they were answered Thursday, albeit uncertainly until the final jumps.

Jockey Olivier Peslier was hard-pressed to find a path for the winner after being stuck on the rail behind horses at mid-stretch after saving ground much of the way.

“I told Olivier that this filly would come strong,” Gosden said. “I thought Hertford Dancer had the race won. “Then I thought Mori had it won. Then Olivier came and grabbed it.”

Peslier, who picked up the ride from the sidelined Frankie Dettori, said the strong early pace gave him the chance at the end.

“John said that she would take a bit of time but when she comes, she comes well. This was the reason I didn’t panic, took a bit of time and came back late. I am very patient and I didn’t want to kill her between horses – I preferred to take my time.

“John said Coronet would finish well, he said to be careful because she takes some time to change gear, but she’s finished like a French horse,” the French rider added.

The Hampton Court

Benbatl, a Dubawi colt who was fifth in the Investec Derby in his previous start, came from off the pace to take the lead in the final furlong in the Hampton Court Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds and held off Orderofthegarter in the final strides, winning by 1/2 length.

Mirage Dancer was third with the top three finishers owned, respectively, by Godolphin, Coolmore and Juddmonte Farms — royalty performing at the Royal meeting.

Source: Ascot Racecourse

Benbatl, with Oisin Murphy winning for the first time at Royal Ascot, scored just his second career win, but trainer Saeed bin Suroor said he is “a nice horse for the future.” The trainer added Murphy, amid the many shakeups in the sprawling Godolphin operation, is “a jockey for the future. We’re going to use more in the future.”

Benbatl won at first asking in April, finished third in the Craven Stakes (G3) at Newmarket and was a good second in the Betfred Dante Stakes (G2) at York before the fifth-place showing behind Wings of Eagles in the Derby.

“When he won the first time, we thought that he was the right horse for the big races,” Bin Suroor said. “He finished fifth in the Derby and he ran well, but he came from too far back and finished strong, so we thought that a mile and a quarter would be better for him.

“Sheikh Mohammed made the decision to run him in today’s race, and Benbatl is obviously improving all the time.”

In the day’s final race, Frankel got his first-ever Royal Ascot winner as a sire when Atty Persse ran well late to land the King George V Stakes by a comfortable 3 lengths. Ironically, Frankel himself never attempted anything close to the 1 1/2 miles of the King George V. The Godolphin runner’s dam sire is Norse Dancer, who is by Halling, who also never tried 12 furlongs.

Atty Persse was a prominent British trainer for some five decades and a frequent winner at Royal Ascot.

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