By David Baxter – Racing Post
Report: Royal Ascot, Tuesday
Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1) 1m, 4yo+
SOLOW gave favourite backers the finest possible start to the Royal meeting when continuing his rise to the top of the international miling division.
The Freddy Head-trained four-year-old – sent off at 11-8 – led home a one-two for France with Esoterique coming second at 16-1, while the late money for Cougar Mountain was justified as Aidan O’Brien’s runner grabbed third, also at 16-1.
Solow’s jockey Maxime Guyon was suitably elated and said: “This is the boss! It is amazing. I think he is the best I’ve ridden and when you can win at Ascot it is amazing.”
Head added: “It is beautiful. He is so easy to train, he’s the number one. I thought in the race they were always going pretty slowly and I was a bit worried.”
As an opening act to the 2015 meeting, the Queen Anne promised a fascinating clash between the best milers from around the world, with Hong Kong’s great hope Able Friend taking on Solow, while Lockinge winner Night Of Thunder represented the top domestic form.
However, two of the three were unable to mount a significant challenge, with Able Friend, who did get noticeably warm before the off, proving a big disappointment, finishing sixth.
Trainer John Moore was unable to offer an immediate reason for Able Friend’s lacklustre effort, and said: “It was disappointing. The jockey offered no explanation for the run. If one was going to look for one negative when we saddled him up he wasn’t his usual self, he was on the toe. He got down to the gates and the jockey did say that he was quite hot when he got down there. That is not normally him.
“You have got to remember animals travelling long distances, new environments and everything – I think the aura of the whole thing got to him but I am sure he will be okay and we will be looking to come back with either him or something else.”
Toormore took the field along with Glory Awaits for company, as the major players in the betting raced in Indian file. Solow was tracked by Night Of Thunder, who was in turn stalked by Able Friend.
As the race approached its conclusion, Toormore fought hard out front, but was worn down by Solow. James Doyle had angled out Night Of Thunder in an effort to keep the favourite hemmed in, but he was unable to make a sustained effort and faded into fifth.
Esoterique emerged as the main danger, but Solow always held enough of an advantage, winning by a length, with Cougar Mountain a neck back in third.
A return to Britain could be on Solow’s agenda, as Head added: “I want him to last, so he’s not going to race that often. We will choose his races and hopefully he will run for a few more years.
“Maybe the Sussex Stakes might be a race for him if he comes out of this race well. He’s a long-striding horse in terms of the Breeders’ Cup so a small track like Keeneland might not suit him.”
Andre Fabre said of Esoterique: “I’m delighted by her – she ran a very good race. The winner has a very high rating, and when we go back to racing her against females she will probably win another Group 1. She definitely needs this type of going.”