Riches maybe, but Aidan O'Brien is by no means embarrassed by the array of middle-distance talent currently resident at Ballydoyle. Here yesterday, Await The Dawn proved himself a third musketeer to join St Nicholas Abbey and So You Think in ventures at the top level, with their trainer looking forward to the second half of the campaign and its valuable prizes in Europe and America.
The most pressing issue will be who is deployed where in the short-term, with next month's Coral-Eclipse Stakes and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes the next targets on the elite domestic programme. But for Await The Dawn, who outclassed his rivals in this meeting's top 12-furlong contest, the Hardwicke Stakes, the sights are set more distantly. "The dream has always been that he would be a horse for the Breeders' Cup Classic," said O'Brien, "and now he's taken this step forward, that dream is still alive."
In contrast to his two celebrated stablemates, whose ability has been apparent for some time, Await The Dawn's emergence has been stealthy. Yesterday was only the sixth race of the imposing four-year-old's career and, in the preliminaries, his inexperience showed. He tried his trainer's patience by at first refusing to be saddled, dancing on his hind legs and all but getting loose. His antics meant he missed the parade, but in the race he put any swashbuckling tendencies aside and galloped home honestly and resolutely once Ryan Moore said go at the head of the short straight for a three-length success on ground softer than ideal.
"He didn't really mean that bad behaviour," said O'Brien indulgently."There's no malice in him and the look in his eye told me he was just taking the mickey. He's a big lad and I think he was just trying to make that point. He's taken time to grow into his big frame, so we've always taken it slowly with him. But he showed us early that he was jet-powered, and once you know that engine is there, you wait for the bodywork to catch up. Today he won despite the ground; his class got him through."
Await The Dawn's success clinched a second Royal Ascot title in three years for his trainer and a second in two for his rider. Where the colt's exciting progress will next be tested en route to avenging his sire Giant's Causeway's narrow defeat in the Classic has yet to be decided. But if the runes are being read correctly, So You Think, the Australian champion who was touched off here earlier in the week, will take on last year's Derby winner Workforce in the Eclipse and St Nicholas Abbey, who bounced back to his two-year-old form in the Coronation Cup at Epsom, will be back here for the King George. "It's hard to decide where to go with them," added O'Brien, "but things will sort themselves out. And it's not a bad problem to have."
Group One prizes are the stock in trade for O'Brien and his Co Tipperary patrons, John Magnier and the Coolmore partners, but for Newmarket-based James Fanshawe, yesterday was a welcome return to the big-time. First, Society Rock took the Golden Jubilee Stakes, the yard's first top-level success for seven years, and 40 minutes later Deacon Blues landed the sprint double in the feature handicap, the Wokingham Stakes.
For Society Rock it was one place better than his effort in the race last year when he chased home the O'Brien inmate Starspangledbanner. This time, he burst through to beat Monsieur Chevalier by half a length, with Australian raider Star Witness third. It was a first winner at this prestigious meeting for jockey Pat Cosgrave, who said: "I got the splits at the right time, but to be fair to the horse he put his head through a gap that was pretty tight."
Deacon Blues was an even narrower victor under Johnny Murtagh, by a neck from Waffle. "I didn't know if Society Rock would go in the soft ground, but I was pretty sure Deacon Blues would," said Fanshawe.
Royal Ascot honours list
Jockey of the week Ryan Moore (wins Power, Maybe, Await The Dawn; places Fiorente, Cai Shen, Dance And Dance, Fame And Glory, Zoffany, Cityscape, Illaunglass) Runner-up: Richard Hughes (three wins, six places)
Trainer of the week Aidan O'Brien (wins Fame And Glory, Power, Maybe, Await The Dawn; places Zoffany, So You Think, Alexander Pope). Runner-up: Richard Hannon (three wins, five places)
Ride of the week Frankie Dettori's masterclass in timing and judgement of pace on Rewilding as he caught So You Think close home in the Prince of Wales's Stakes. His use of the whip was judged worthy of a ban but, with his mount responding willingly, it did nothing to diminish the spectacle of the finish.Reuse content