Even a fairly forgettable race can help to define an epoch. So while the 59th running of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes may not have been a vintage one, the mutual achievements of Sir Michael Stoute, his patrons at Ballymacoll Stud and his stable jockey guarantee lasting resonance for the name of Conduit among his more illustrious predecessors.
Not that he should be damned with too faint praise, having already won a St Leger and Breeders' Cup Turf. And, having redressed one conspicuous omission in his trainer's CV at Doncaster last September, he may yet decorate one of the outstanding careers of the modern Turf with a first success in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe as well.
As things stand, however, the race Conduit won at Ascot on Saturday can be saluted primarily in the spirit of his christening. For the unprecedented 1-2-3 achieved by Stoute's Newmarket stable represents a duct from the deep pools of daily achievement – in training, breeding and riding – into the sparkling fountains of history.
Stoute, of course, is far into his pomp. He was champion trainer for the first time in 1981, when he saddled Shergar to win this same prize; the £900,000 or so he hoarded this time, through the combined endeavours of Conduit, Tartan Bearer and Ask, will certainly seal his 10th title.
He has, moreover, long been acknowledged as a particular master of the mature thoroughbred. Given his rather antediluvian views of what needs to be shared beyond those who pay him to train their horses, Stoute does not give much away. But he did tell punters last week not to read too much into the way Conduit had been dismissed by Sea The Stars in the Eclipse, and that the colt would be much closer to peak form this time. It seems safe to assume that Stoute had worked backwards to Saturday from the moment Conduit passed the post at Santa Anita last autumn.
Ballymacoll was celebrating its 50th Group One success, having already engraved the names of Troy and Golan on the King George roll of honour. To breed the first two – so confirming a continued ability to box toe-to-toe with Coolmore, the one Irish stud farm entitled to be unimpressed by the fact that Tartan Bearer was foaled in the same box as Arkle – sustains a proud legacy for the Weinstock family, seven years after the death of its patriarch.
For Ryan Moore this was a more critical breakthrough. It was not sufficient, to be sure, to permit the remotest trace of satisfaction – never mind joy – to penetrate those sombre features as he pulled up his mount. The sport must seemingly reconcile itself to the fact that the best British-born Flat champion in years will forever wear an expression better suited to hearse-racing. Moore has not become so closed a character without reason and that needs to be respected. His grandfather was a rare old card – a dealer in old cars and comic anecdotes. It is hard to know why Moore should be so different. Is he somehow cowed, or angry, or merely diffident? Regardless, he will plainly settle for such public affection as can be won by his deeds in the saddle.
Which will, of course, be considerable. His is already a remarkably complete talent, however intently he listened to Tartan Bearer's veteran rider, Michael Kinane, as the television cameras pried into the jockeys' room before the race. Moore followed Kinane on the track, too, and must have been especially relieved that Conduit vindicated his choice after he turned down the same colt in the Leger. Still to win a Classic, and made to wait for his 80th ride for a first Royal Ascot success, Moore will have found the moment far more liberating than he would ever allow to become manifest.
Golden Sword's tepid effort perhaps vindicated the modern convention that three-year-olds cannot come here after soaking up all those trials and Classics in the first half of the season. Instead it was Alwaary, who sat out Epsom and Royal Ascot, who did best of the younger generation in fourth, though it seems his connections are reluctant to follow Conduit's example by going for the Leger.
Turf account: Chris McGrath
Sister Clement (7.45 Windsor) Two much improved performances since joining Richard Hannon, and can defy her revised rating after being raised 9lb for bolting up in mixed company at Newbury last time. Now returned to her own sex, she is a well-bred, progressive animal on a roll.
Oh So Saucy (4.00 Yarmouth) Progressive last season, when her three wins included two over this course and distance, and will be reaching peak fitness after laying solid foundations in both starts this term. Her yard remains in top form.
*One to watch
Spouk (L M Cumani), from a good staying family, was foiled only in a photo on her handicap debut at York on Saturday. Very lightly raced, her commitment in the finish suggests she will relish a mile and a half.
*Where the money's going
Hill Fairy is 16-1 from 33-1 with the sponsors for the William Hill Galway Plate on Wednesday.Reuse content