Racing / Royal Ascot: Lochsong makes stately progress: After another scorching success, the Breeders' Cup and sprinting crown await the mare who reigned on the Queen's parade

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THE QUEEN may have been put out at Ascot yesterday. For the first three days of the meeting it was the Royal presence which attracted the most applause, but yesterday there was a different identity registering the highest reading on the clapometer, the King's Stand Stakes winner Lochsong.

The Group Two event was more exhibition than race, and as the mare pressed relentlessly up the Berkshire straight, palms were being placed together before she had reached the furlong pole in appreciation of yet another definitive display of spreadeagling.

As Lanfranco Dettori, the victorious jockey, slowed down and the wind stopped whistling around his ears, he turned round and made a gesture of contempt to the toilers, shading his eyes with his hand in much the same way as mariners in the crow's nest, in search of landfall.

The script was the normal one. Lochsong was taken to post early to remove her from distracting influences. When the stalls opened there was, once again, an immediate, almost startled, emergence from the six-year-old and from there the only worthwhile speculation was on the winning distance. Those who guessed five lengths were right.

As the noisy ripple came from the stands, Lochsong twitched her ears like antennae and, according to her trainer, Ian Balding, slowed down to appreciate the acclaim. 'She didn't look to be flat out and I think she can still pick up if and when something gets to her,' he said. That theory will probably be tested later this month when Lochsong goes into the darker territory of a sixth furlong in the July Cup at Newmarket.

After Newmarket, York's Nunthorpe Stakes beckons for Lochsong, who may then depart from last year's programme by missing out the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp. The even sweeter prize of the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs has already been inked in as the foremost end-of-season target. 'Most of the American sprints are won by the horse that gets to the bend first,' Jeff Smith, Lochsong's owner, said. 'As she's the best front-runner seen in Europe for a long time we've got to go for it. I think she'll scrape the paint round there.'

Earlier in the afternoon there had been a deserved success later for Bobzao. At this meeting there are many who struggle to fit their full names on membership badges, but Bobzao's trainer did not have such a problem. Terry Mills does not sound much like a Royal Ascot winner, and his background is distinctly more blue-collar than most of his colleagues, running a demolition business.

Mills, 55, has owned horses for 25 years, but it was only two seasons ago that he decided to prepare the athletes himself. 'It's very hard, the hardest business in the world, because you can't have a day off from horses,' he said. 'I need the money from my business for the horses.'

Richard Hannon, the champion trainer, seems to be doing quite well from the sport, however. His horses have earned over pounds 500,000 this season following yesterday's Wokingham Stakes victory of Venture Capitalist. The Marlborough man was not around to tell the story, though, as he was a guest of the crown.

Hannon arrived at the course in a carriage also bearing the Queen Mother and Princess Alexandra. As the applause rang out Hannon will have realised he was not the focus, but may mistakenly have believed the passengers around him were the objects of the subjects' applause. He would have been wrong; the crowd was merely practising for Lochsong.

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