O'Brien mastery with Navigator rocks his rivals

In such a gaudy milieu, their success may seem monochrome to some. But then those who cannot celebrate the mastery of Aidan O'Brien will, by this stage, be fed up of Tiger Woods as well. Little over an hour into the meeting, his horses had hoarded two more top-level prizes. And two more groups of horsemen stood gazing wistfully across from the berth reserved for the runner-up, and knew how it felt to be Rocco Mediate.

The previous day Mediate had surpassed everything he has achieved in a long golfing career to take Woods to the wire in his 14th Major. But he had to make do with reflected glory, and much the same is now true of the men who came here yesterday with Darjina and Raven's Pass – one beaten in a photo by Haradasun, the other streaking clear of the rest without landing a punch on Henrythenavigator.

O'Brien's 22nd and 23rd Royal Ascot winners consolidated his flourishing new partnership with Johnny Murtagh. And he thinks they may even be exploring uncharted territory with Henrythenavigator, whose decisive win in the St James's Palace Stakes sealed his status as the outstanding miler of his generation.

O'Brien's responsibilities to Coolmore Stud, the ultimate destination for all his champions, mean that he seldom understates their qualities. Even so, his assessment of this colt had seemed a little incautious beforehand. But his routine brilliance yesterday suggests Henrythenavigator may indeed be the best miler O'Brien has trained – better even than Rock Of Gibraltar or Giant's Causeway, both winners of this prize.

But for this colt, New Approach would have won two Classics over a mile as well as a Derby. At this trip, however, even he has merely glinted back the rays of Henrythenavigator, and everything was set up perfectly for the favourite here. A turning mile on fast ground guaranteed a pure test of speed, and Murtagh could afford to drop one of his reins as he angled inside for a run in the straight, regrouping to lead approaching the furlong pole and never in danger thereafter.

Raven's Pass followed from the rear, snapping at his heels, but Henrythenavigator simply dragged him clear of Twice Over, in the process requiring perfunctory assistance his jockey.

In getting within a length, however, Raven's Pass amply vindicated the decision to forfeit today's Jersey Stakes. He had shone like burnished copper in the parade ring, and his own day in the sun will come.

The Breeders' Cup Mile is on John Gosden's mind, and who knows? Perhaps the winner will be otherwise engaged then. O'Brien suggested that he could go up or down in distance, but any temptation to sample 10 furlongs could be postponed until the Breeders' Cup Classic. In the meantime O'Brien and his patrons must decide whether to rack up points over a mile, or chance their arm in a race like the Darley July Cup.

"It's very hard to say we'll ever get a better miler," O'Brien reiterated. "He's a great horse, exceptional. He has everything – speed, stamina, class, pick-up, and a great attitude. Over a mile he just goes out and canters through his races. But all things are open to him."

Any still making lazy connections between O'Brien's record and the undoubted calibre of his raw material will doubtless put Tiger's success down to his club makers. They need only consider the stunt O'Brien pulled with Haradasun, who arrived from Australia last winter and was only trained with this day in mind.

He barely had an inch to spare in the Queen Anne Stakes – and he owed that inch to a discreet tactical masterpiece. Haradasun has a history of hanging under pressure, but was artfully taken to the near side of the pack as his pacemaker seduced the field towards the stands' rail. That left Haradasun with no choice but to run straight and true, and show the narrow margin by which the greatest battles are won.

The trophy was presented by Richie Benaud and the Australians were also heavily involved in the King's Stand Stakes, where the gritty Takeover Target made the podium yet again – foiled only by Equiano, the first Royal Ascot winner to be trained in Spain. Admittedly he came here via France, and his new owners had already arranged for him to join Barry Hills after the race. But Mauricio Delcher-Sanchez will never have this pioneering achievement excised from his training CV. "My first runner in England," he grinned. "It's easy!"

For not even Ballydoyle can seize every place round racing's top table, and there are always interesting names on the seating plan. Suzy Smith took the Ascot Stakes with Missoula, and John Best saddled Flashmans Papers to win the Windsor Castle Stakes at 100-1. But a more striking juvenile still is Art Connoisseur, who extended his unbeaten record when pouncing from last under Jamie Spencer in the Coventry Stakes.

The sponsors make him just 10-1 to emulate last year's winner, Henrythenavigator, in the Stan James 2,000 Guineas, but his trainer, Michael Bell, cautioned that he must get a seventh furlong before he can start thinking about an eighth.

Sometimes diversity of this kind seems to emerge only in skirmishes. But these are the races everyone wants to win. Ryan Moore's photo-finish defeat on Mamlook, for instance, left him still craving a first winner at this meeting. Even the Turf's biggest artillery will always be encircled by massed ranks of infantry, and that is why O'Brien is the greatest general of his generation.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Content Manager - Central London

£35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Central...

HR Business Partner - Banking Finance - Brentwood - £45K

£45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: ** HR Business Partner - Senior H...

PA / Team Secretary - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: PA / Team Secretary - Mat...

Mechanical Lead

£65000 - £75000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Mechanical L...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on