Fox Lasts Home
Mark Johnston’s Oriental Fox ran away with the final race of Royal Ascot, the Queen Alexandra Stakes, with hot favourite Wicklow Brave only fourth.
Willie Mullins’ Cheltenham Festival hero was sent off the 5-4 favourite as the rain fell, but he was unable to pick up in the home straight as Ryan Moore had a rare winless Saturday.
Oriental Fox had been off the track since last year’s Northumberland Plate, just a week after he was fifth in the Ascot Gold Cup. But the seven-year-old relished the two-mile five-furlong test and finished seven lengths clear of Rod Millman’s mare Taws with Teak third for Ian Williams.
Johnston was surprised at his charge’s performance which came in a course record time. He said: “He had been working terrible. We worked him over a mile and a quarter with a maiden who beat him out of sight. We thought maybe we’d gone too fast so we tried again, with the same result.”
The gelding, owned by Markus Graff, was injured after Newcastle and Johnston said: “He had a couple of screws put in it and went home to Switzerland to recuperate and I think he had too much time off. He was carrying a lot of condition and it has taken us time to get him straight. I’ve never seen him look better, but when it came to work he was definitely not showing his best.
“We thought the race would be perfect for Oriental Fox if he was on song, but I have to admit I didn’t think he was.”
Winning jockey Joe Fanning said: “He hadn’t been working great but he’s a very good horse on his day with a good turn of foot for a stayer. He travelled really well and I had so much horse under me when it mattered.”
Ryan Moore could not add to his tally of nine wins for the week as he endured a scoreless Saturday.
Rory Jiwani 20/06/15
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