Fox digs deep to deny Hobson
The Queen Alexandra Stakes brought the curtain down on Royal Ascot 2017 and saw a terrific finish.
The Willie Mullins-trained Thomas Hobson was the 2/1 favourite to complete a quickfire double following Tuesday's triumph in the Ascot Stakes, but he had to make do with the runner-up spot on this occasion as Mark Johnston's 10/1 shot Oriental Fox won the race for the second time.
Martin Harley took his time aboard Thomas Hobson and looked to have produced his mount with a well-timed challenge after he poked his head in front inside the final two furlongs.
However, Oriental Fox, successful in 2015 and fourth 12 months ago, proved a willing opponent under Joe Fanning and battled back tenaciously to win the argument by a length and a quarter.
US Army Ranger, who was runner-up when favourite for the Epsom Derby 12 months ago, was racing over a mile further than he had ever previously encountered. Ryan Moore's mount kept on to grab third without ever threatening the front pair.
Winning jockey Joe Fanning said: "He always runs a good race and he's travelled around well.
"I had plenty of horse turning in. I was worried when the Willie Mullins' horse came upsides me, but he got his head down and battled well."
Johnston said: "I love old horses. There's nothing like having old geldings.
"Markus (Graff, owner) was suggesting retiring him at the end of last season before we took him to Pontefract and I said what else are we going to do with him, let him have a go at Polo?
"Hopefully, this will have earned him another year in training."
Owner Rich Ricci said of Thomas Hobson: "He pulled very hard and he was never going to win pulling that hard. Fair play to the winner, he is a good horse. Mark Johnston's horses are very good and are tough.
"To have a winner and a second at Royal Ascot is brillant and we will build from here. Australia (Melbourne Cup) is not the be all and end all. I know Willie thinks we have got unfinished business there, but it is a £100,000 punt.
"We will see what happens. It is a great race, but you have got to go there with a chance and he would have to go very well at York (Lonsdale Cup)."
Aidan O'Brien said of US Army Ranger: "We are delighted with his run. He relaxed and did everything right. It's an exciting race and we try and give them all a chance at the races.
"He got into this as the conditions were good for him. All this does is brighten his options. There is still plenty of time for him."
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