Fox digs deep to deny Hobson

Oriental Fox wins the Queen Alexandra Stakes once again

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."


Read More at Sky Sports Racing

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