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Page last updated at 15:12 GMT, Tuesday, 16 June 2009 16:12 UK

Ascot glory for Mastercraftsman

Date: 16 June - 20 June
Coverage: BBC One, BBC Two, website streaming (UK only), commentary of all the main races on BBC Radio 5 Live; follow Cornelius Lysaght at
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Replay - Mastercraftsman holds on for win

Johnny Murtagh rode Mastercraftsman brilliantly to edge out Delegator and win the St James's Palace Stakes on a thrilling opening day at Royal Ascot.

Aidan O'Brien's horse trailed in the final furlong but the favourite hit back to win after a titanic struggle.

Australian speedster Scenic Blast, ridden by Steven Arnold, triumphed in the King's Stand Stakes ahead of Fleeting Spirit and Anglezarke.

Paco Boy in the Queen Anne Stakes was Richard Hughes's first of three wins.

In the Coventry Stakes, Hughes and owner Richard Hannon had their day's second winner with favourite Canford Cliffs, who demolished the field to finish six lengths ahead of Xtension and Rakaan.


Then in the Ascot Stakes, Hughes made it a magical hat-trick of wins after Judgethemoment made a terrific late burst to fight off Sesanta, ridden by Seamus Hefferman, Royal Rationale and Gala Evening.

After Mastercraftsman's dramatic victory in Tuesday's third big race, which follows his Irish Guineas victory, Murtagh was delighted with his horse's performance.

"He gave 110%. He's brave and courageous and like all the best horses, they never know when they're beaten," he told BBC Sport.

"I think he's a true champion - he deserves a lot of credit."

It was O'Brien's sixth victory in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and once again Delegator had to settle for second spot behind 5-6 favourite Mastercraftsman following the defeat in the Irish 2000 Guineas.

Aidan O'Brien

O'Brien and Murtagh delighted with win

Ridden by Jimmy Fortune, Delegator took the lead but did not quite have the legs at the finish, with Lord Shanakill coming in third after a fine showing.

Scenic Blast's victory gave Australia a fourth win in the King's Stand Stakes in five years at Royal Ascot.

Last year's winner Equiano began strongly, but the 11-4 favourite Scenic Blast, trained by Daniel Morton, pushed on with devastating pace to finish three-quarters of a length ahead of Fleeting Spirit, ridden by Ryan Moore.

Anglezarke was a further two and a three-quarters away in third.

"I know how tough it is to succeed here and to be lucky enough to get on a good horse is great," rider Arnold told BBC Sport.

Trainer Jeremy Noseda was satisfied with Fleeting Spirit's run and said: "We were beaten by a very good horse and I cannot quibble.

"What I do know is that this filly is best when I bring her back fresh and my gut instinct is to put her away and have her fresh for the Nunthorpe."

In Tuesday's first race, Paco Boy, trained by Hannon, had few problems in seeing off a strong field in the Queen Anne Stakes, despite facing huge criticism in the build-up to the meeting that he could not last the pace.

Scenic Blast

Replay - Scenic Blast storms to Ascot win

Favourite Gladiatorus, officially the world's highest-rated horse, burst out of the stalls and had a five length lead, but faded two furlongs out as Paco Boy stepped up a gear to cruise home.

Murtagh finished in second place on Cesare, Richard Hills on Aqlaam was third and Main Aim in fourth.

Hughes was delighted that Paco Boy proved the doubters wrong and told BBC Sport: "He was electric today."

The 7-4 favourite Canford Cliffs led over a furlong out in the Coventry Stakes to win in stunning fashion ahead of Xtension by six lengths and Rakaan.

Hughes was delighted with his ride and said: "This horse shouldn't have won. I've never known a horse pull that hard and win a race. He's the best I've ridden by far. He's a freak."

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see also
Royal Ascot photos - day one
16 Jun 09 |  Horse Racing
Cornelius Lysaght on Royal Ascot
12 Jun 09 |  Horse Racing
Ascot photo gallery
14 Jun 09 |  Horse Racing
BBC racing coverage
09 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing

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