Racing: King Of Kings struggles to rule

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King Of Kings returned to winning form but failed to impress when beating Sharp Play in the Listed Flame Of Tara Tyros Stakes at the Curragh yesterday, writes Ian Davies.

The 2-9 favourite for the seven furlongs contest, King Of Kings looked set for a comprehensive win when he was sent on by Christy Roche inside the final furlong. However, carrying his head high, King Of Kings failed to open up a clear advantage over the Mark Johnston-trained Sharp Play and Jason Weaver's mount cut the deficit to a length and a half at the line. Photogenic was a further four lengths away in third place.

In the unsaddling enclosure Roche said to Aidan O'Brien, King Of King's trainer: "He did it well - he's still learning."

O'Brien was simply pleased to see King Of Kings win and nominated either a return to the Curragh for the Futurity Stakes or Doncaster's Laurent Perrier Champagne Stakes - where he could clash with the Richmond Stakes winner and 1998 2,000 Guineas favourite Daggers Drawn - as the next port of call for his much-hyped colt.

O'Brien said: "He just goes there and thinks he has done enough - that's why he didn't win too far."

Sharp Play delighted Johnston, who said: "Two furlongs out Jason said Sharp Play just lost his stride pattern. He has cut himself twice low down on his left hind, but if he is okay he might come back here in a fortnight for the Futurity Stakes."

King Alex, trained by Roger Charlton, won the Group Three Royal Whip Stakes by a short-head and half A length from Rayouni and Oscar Schindler.