Spring bounds to Ascot victory
Sir Michael Stoute's Arab Spring ran out an impressive winner under top weight in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Beaten only once from four previous public outings, when second on his debut last May, the four-year-old son of Monsun had been hit with an 8lb hike in the weights for scoring by half a length at York last month.
But the progressive colt defied the assessor with ease and supporters of the 11/4 favourite barely had a moment's worry as Ryan Moore settled him sweetly in third behind the pace-setting Salutation and Dashing Star.
Michael Murphy set a lovely tempo on Salutation at the head of affairs and had them stacked up in behind turning for home in the valuable mile and a half handicap.
His mount responded well when asked to quicken but Moore was cutting a confident figure on Arab Spring and he quickly settled the issue when bursting to the front soon after the two-furlong marker.
Salutation kept on resolutely to fill the runner-up spot but was left toiling two lengths behind the winner, with Havana Cooler staying on well to claim third and Elidor filling the places.
It was a third Ascot victory of the week for Stoute and a fourth for Moore, who said: "He's straightforward, jumps well and we got a good spot as we weren't going mad.
"We've always liked the horse and he's four from four this year. Hopefully he'll go on again.
"He's been trained beautifully. He didn't race until just over a year ago and then he went wrong, but he's come back this year and he's nice and progressive."
Arab Spring will now step up in class, with a tilt at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp the ultimate aim.
Peter Reynolds, general manager for owners Ballymacoll Stud, said: "This was certainly the plan.
"Michael takes these horses along slowly. We'll take it stage by stage, but hopefully he's finished with handicaps now.
"He has some serious entries, which is wonderful, including the Champion Stakes (Leopardstown) and the Arc.
"The Arc is the one race the Weinstock family and Ballymacoll Stud haven't had a winner of yet and we'd love to do it, so if he's good enough to get to the Arc, he might just be there.
"It's a fantastic training performance from Michael, the way he's brought him on, and Ryan said he has some nice speed."
A trip to Newmarket could be the next port of call for the exciting winner.
Reynolds said: "He had an injury last year but he has done everything right this year.
"Michael has entered him in the Princess of Wales's Stakes at Newmarket and that could be a race for him."
Mark Johnston was delighted with the performance of Salutation, saying: "That was a super run for a 25/1 shot and he has proved he can be competitive over a mile and a half."
Luca Cumani has another major handicap in mind for Havana Cooler.
The trainer said: "They are such tough races to win but I'm delighted with him. Hopefully he could be an Ebor horse."