Oisin Murphy scored his first winner at this year’s Royal Ascot as Dashing Willoughby landed a gamble in the Queen’s Vase.
Murphy did not enjoy the best start to the week after failing a breath test before racing at Salisbury on Sunday, but he put that incident well behind him as he steered Andrew Balding’s charge to victory.
Nayef Road set the pace in the 14-furlong heat with Barbados on his heels, while Murphy maintained a watching brief on the 6-1 winner and it was between those three from some way out.
Dashing Willoughby seized the initiative coming into the final two furlongs and despite drifting across the track, he held on by half a length, with Murphy punching the air as he passed the post.
Barbados snatched second for Aidan O’Brien, with the Mark Johnston-trained Nayef Road sticking to his guns well in third.
Balding said: “He loves the soft ground and stays well. We had a little hiccup on Saturday morning as he was very lame and had a blood blister in his foot.
“The farrier and head lad worked through the night to get it right and happily it was right 12 hours later.
“I am delighted he has come good. I’m delighted for Mick and Janice (Mariscotti) as they have been loyal supporters for a while. I was pretty hopeful coming into the race.
“We will work back from the St Leger and sit down and discuss it with them where we go next.”
O’Brien said of Barbados: “Delighted with him. He ran a very good race, we couldn’t be happier with him. He’s by Galileo and it always looked like the horse would stay.
“It was a great run on that ground this early in the year.”
Johnston said of Nayef Road: “He was not in a great position drawn quiet wide, and was a bit slow into stride, so I thought it was a great move to push out, take the lead and the initiative. It nearly paid off.
“He’s been there all the way to the line. You couldn’t say he didn’t stay every inch of the trip.
“We’re very happy with him and it tells us we were right to say he wanted a big jump up in trip. He’s gone half a mile extra and this was clearly the right decision.
“We won’t be going back to a mile and a quarter.”