Fabulously-consistent five-year-old Crystal Ocean nailed a first G1 victory when landing the feature race on day two of the Royal Meeting, the £750,000 Prince of Wales's Stakes over 10 furlongs at Royal Ascot on Wednesday.
Frankie Dettori steers Crystal Ocean to his first Group 1 victory, photo Liesl King
Ridden by Frankie Dettori in the colours of Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, Crystal Ocean (3/1) showed utmost gameness in the home straight, seeing off pace-maker Hunting Horn, who finished fourth, and then that horse's stablemate, the favourite Magical (13/8). Magical seemed likely to pick off Crystal Ocean as they approached the furlong pole, but he would not yield, and was pulling clear of the filly as they reached the line. He scored by one and a quarter lengths, while third-placed Waldgeist (4/1) was three and a quarter lengths adrift of Magical.
Winning trainer Sir Michael Stoute, commenting on the horse and on his decision to opt for a mile-and-a-quarter race, said: "Crystal Ocean is a high-class horse and I am delighted to have won a Group One with him now. He is just a very admirable racehorse. It's marvellous to train a Group One horse like this.
"I thought he ran very well in the Champion Stakes last year [over today's course and distance] and better than it appeared [when six-lengths second to Cracksman]. He may be better over a mile and a half, but I felt he was a pretty good horse over 10 furlongs, and he proved that today.
"There has been great teamwork here by my assistant James Savage, Crystal Ocean's lad, Cuarado, who rides him a lot along with Ted Durcan."
A delighted Sir Michael Stoute with Crystal Ocean, photo Liesl King
Sir Evelyn said of his home-bred horse: "He's very consistent - look at his record. It is quite amazing. He can stay a mile and a half, and don't forget he was second in the St Leger. Frankie loves him."
Crystal Ocean has yet to finish outside the first three in 15 races, and his record now reads eight wins, five seconds and two thirds. He is another example of Sir Michael's superb achievements with older horses. The trainer's record as Royal Ascot's most successful handler has now been extended to 80 victories, while Dettori, the meeting's winning-most jockey, has now reached 62 winners.
Frankie Dettori has now ridden 62 Royal Ascot winners and it was an 80th Royal Ascot success for trainer Sir Michael Stoute.
It was the second half of a 75/1 double for Dettori, who also took the opening G2 Queen Mary Stakes aboard Raffle Prize.
Dettori, who last won this race on Rewilding in 2011 and who has four victories in the 10-furlong contest in total, said: ""I knew Crystal Ocean stayed really well, so I kicked on early and did not hear anything coming. The rest is history.
Dettori celebrates as Crystal Ocean returns, photo Liesl King
"Everything went to plan - I sat where I wanted to sit and kicked early to use his stamina. He was full of running and I felt it was going to take a good one to get past me.
"It was great. As soon as I knew Enable was going for the Eclipse, I rang Sir Michael's office and said I was available. He was quick to react and called me in the afternoon to say I'd got the ride and I was delighted.
"He's an ultra-consistent horse, he's a heavyweight of the sport, never runs a bad race. I was concerned about the rain because all his best form is on firm ground, and the race went exactly as I thought. I thought I'd better kick round the turn and use my stamina, and in fairness he stuck his head out and galloped right to the line.
"He's in all the big ones - a mile and a quarter, a mile and a half. He's a five-year-old, mature and strong. I rode him in the morning and he was laidback and didn't give much of a feel, but he's saved his best for the afternoon."
Aidan O'Brien's 13/8 favourite Magical finished a length and a quarter-second to the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Crystal Ocean (3/1) in the £750,000 G1 Prince Of Wales's Stakes, the feature race on day two of Royal Ascot 2019.
Crystal Ocean, ridden by Frankie Dettori, hit the front entering the home straight and despite the best efforts of Magical and jockey Ryan Moore, the pair finished a length and a quarter behind the winner in the 10-furlong contest.
O'Brien said: "She ran well and Ryan was very pleased with her. The King George could be an option for her."
Moore commented: "Magical ran a cracker. The ground got bad, but she ran well."
Andre Fabre's Waldgeist (4/1) was a further three and a quarter-lengths back in third and the French trainer said: "Waldgeist ran well. The ground was not an issue as he has won on soft. The King George could be a possible."
Pierre-Charles Boudot, who rode Waldgeist, said: "He was not the same horse on this ground."
Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe second Sea Of Class (5/1), trained by William Haggas, struggled in the conditions and finished fifth. Her jockey James Doyle said: "We learnt a lot about her today, mainly the fact that she doesn't like the deep ground that she encountered out there today.
"She felt in great nick and travelled really well. We were a bit too far back, but the main thing was just to get a run into her and start her off - we're very happy with her."
Japanese raider Deirdre (33/1) finished sixth and her jockey Yutaka Take reported: "It was a very tough race."
Andrea Atzeni, rider of Zabeel Prince (7th), commented: "A mile and a quarter on soft ground is just too far for him."
Crystal Ocean, photo Liesl King
3.40pm Prince Of Wales's Stakes (Group 1), 1m 2f
1 Crystal Ocean (Sir Evelyn de Rothschild) Sir Michael Stoute 5-9-00 Frankie Dettori 3/1
2 Magical (Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier & Michael Tabor) Aidan O'Brien IRE 4-8-11 Ryan Moore 13/8 fav
3 Waldgeist (Gestut Ammerland) Andre Fabre FR 5-9-00 Pierre-Charles Boudot 4/1
Time: 2m 10.25s
Distances: 1¼, 3¼
Tote Win: £4.10 Places: £1.25, £1.15, £1.55 Exacta: £9.50
Breeding: b h Sea The Stars (IRE) - Crystal Star (GB) (Mark Of Esteem (IRE))
Breeder: Southcourt Stud
Sir Michael Stoute - 80th Royal Ascot winner
Frankie Dettori - 62nd Royal Ascot winner