Caravaggio stars at Ascot
Caravaggio maintained his unbeaten record with a superb display in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.
The six-furlong contest was billed as one of the races of the week, as the Aidan O’Brien-trained Caravaggio, so impressive in the Coventry Stakes at last year’s meeting, took on a couple of major Godolphin-owned contenders in Harry Angel and Blue Point.
Just as he had done when bolting up in last month’s Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock, Clive Cox’s Harry Angel was soon racing enthusiastically at the head of affairs and ensured a strong pace.
Blue Point, trained by Charlie Appleby, had beaten Harry Angel in the Pavilion Stakes over the course and distance in early May and loomed up to challenge inside the final furlong.
Harry Angel managed to see him off on this occasion, but had no answer when the more patiently-ridden 5-6 favourite Caravaggio stormed by late on under Ryan Moore and there was three-quarters of a length between them at the line.
Harry Angel was in turn half a length in front of Blue Point, with the trio pulling nicely clear of American challenger Bound For Nowhere.
O’Brien said: “He’s obviously a brilliant horse. It was only his second run back and we’ve been afraid to do too much because we didn’t want to lose that brilliance that he has. Ryan gave him a brilliant ride and his change of pace is unbelievable.
“Ryan was very confident in him, he said he was just going to pop him out and let it happen and that’s exactly what he did, he said he’d come there very late and that’s exactly what he did.
“He’s very quick – I don’t think we’ve ever had a quicker horse. It was a big step up from his first run at Naas. We knew it was against three-year-olds today but it will be older horses next time.”
O’Brien went on: “I’d imagine the July Cup is what the lads would be thinking of.”
When asked if he could drop back to five furlongs at some stage, O’Brien quipped: “He could drop down to three!”
Moore said: “I think that was a proper race, he’s beaten two very good horses there.
“There’s quite a head wind and it’s hard to make up ground in it today and yesterday. They made him work but he was going away at the end. They were very good horses in front of me and they weren’t stopping.
“I think that was a very good performance as he’s beaten two very good horses. He’s a good colt.
“I ride Limato on Saturday so we’ll see how he matches up to the older ones, but that was a very good race.”
Coolmore supremo John Magnier said “Any winner here always means something.
“We were unlucky to lose Scat Daddy (sire) a few years ago and I think that is his fourth winner this week so hopefully this fellow will take his place. Aidan has always said he’s one of the quickest he’s ever had and he’s still unbeaten.
“He’s a better racehorse than Scat Daddy and it is a cross that we need, it’s fortunate for us he’s come at the right time.”
O’Brien also added Caravaggio could be on his travels later in the year: “I’m sure the July Cup will be on the agenda, but we won’t race him too much because the new Everest race in Australia has been mentioned.”
Cox said of Harry Angel: “It was a great horse race. He wore his heart on his sleeve a little bit going out in front, but when you take the blindfold off they jump that quick and there’s nothing you can do about it.
“Adam (Kirby) gave him a great ride and it was a very special race.
“It was close. The winner had to work to get us, so I don’t think there’s any doubt after finishing second in a Group One it will take long for him to take his Group One somewhere.
“We’ll just see how he comes out of this before we plan where to go next.”
Appleby said: “I think we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet by saying we’re not going to see a sprint like that for a long time.
“William (Buick) got off and said it was a great race to ride in. They’ve gone quick and they’ve all kept finding.
“The winner has no chinks in his armour. He came off the bridle before we did and just found all the way to the line.
“We’ll let the dust settle and we’ll have to try, for all the first three horses’ sakes, to keep them apart. Caravaggio is obviously a Group One winner and you’d like the second and third to win Group Ones by staying out of his way, or get 100 per cent of them there for the next Group One and hope someone is a bit under par.
“I’m delighted we’re here, the horse was in the best condition I could get him in and he ran a spectacular race. Congratulations to the people who put this race on. It’s been great to be part of it.”
Wesley Ward, said of the fourth horse, Bound For Nowhere: “He’s run a very nice race. It was only his third start and we’re very excited about him.
“He’s going to win a big one and we’re going down that route.”.