Ventura Rebel floored odds-on favourite Lady Pauline in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Royal Ascot Two-Year-Old Trial Conditions Stakes at Ascot.
All eyes were on the Wesley Ward-trained juvenile, who is a half-sister to multiple Group One winner Lady Aurelia, as she attempted to back up her debut success at Keeneland last month in the five-furlong contest.
Everything looked to be going to plan for the 4-11 favourite at the two-furlong pole, with John Velazquez sitting confidently at the head of the field.
That picture quickly changed when Velazquez asked for Lady Pauline’s finishing effort though, and as her stride began to shorten, she was eventually reeled in by the Richard Fahey-trained Ventura Rebel, who went on to claim victory by a length at odds of 20-1.
The winner, who was claiming a second career success, was introduced at 14-1 by Coral for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and Tom Palin, spokesman for owners Middleham Park Racing, said: “I don’t there was any fluke about that.
“It was a nice, honest race and it probably rode like a nice race. We did it on debut in the same manner and we have really put them to the sword today.
“Since his debut he has sharpened up a lot. He did a really nice piece of work a week and a bit ago, and Richard rang me and said that Ascot race is where you go and you will run well. I’ve never heard Richard talk about one of ours like that.
“I think he is a proper horse. He is not a slow horse by any stretch of the imagination. I think Paul was suggesting it took him a long to pull him up and with the manner he was finishing it off – all roads lead to the Coventry with him now.”
As for Lady Pauline, Velazquez pointed to the long trip as a possible reason why she came up just short.
He said: “I thought she ran well. It seemed like she got tired in the last 16th of a mile. She has only been here a few days and part of the trip might have knocked it out of her a little bit.”
Zaaki made a winning return to action for Sir Michael Stoute in the Ascot Shop Paradise Stakes, completing a treble for jockey Frankie Dettori in the process.
The four-year-old gelding found just enough to hold 2017 St James’s Palace Stakes winner Barney Roy, who was making his return to racing having proven infertile at stud, by a neck in the mile Listed prize.
Stoute said of the 9-1 winner: “I think he is quite versatile trip wise. He ran some cracking races last season and just tapered off towards the end.
“We’ve cut him and he has bounced back, so it is very pleasing.
“I looked at the race a little while ago and I thought he wasn’t going to come in time for it, but I took a chance. We will stop and think about things, but he will run before then (Royal Ascot).”
The Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal meeting is firmly on the agenda for the runner-up, who was making his first start for Charlie Appleby.
He said: “We are delighted first and foremost. We are pleased with the run and it is great to have him back on track. More importantly we have learnt a bit more about the horse.
“William said two and a half down he was just travelling too well. He would have liked to have been coming from behind running into the last furlong.
“William said he would be quite happy to stick at the mile. Whether we take another race before Ascot, I don’t know. On the back of that run he wouldn’t look out of place in the Queen Anne.”
Dettori judged his fractions from the front perfectly aboard Muchly to initiate his treble, and a double for trainer John Gosden, when holding on by a short head in the Naas Racecourse Royal Ascot Trials Day British EBF Fillies’ Conditions Stakes.
Gosden said of the 9-1 winner: “He was going to his own pace and set up his own pace how he wanted it. He cleverly rode it and he has a certain wisdom with age.
“Sean (Levey) didn’t have enough horse (on Ajrar) to attack us early, which left us able to hold off the favourite.
“She is very much bred to be a seven-furlong filly. She has got this stiff mile well and there is the Sandringham here. We could talk to the jockey later about whether a mile and a quarter is a possibility.”
Calyx (1-3) provided both Gosden and Dettori with further success in the Group Three Merriebelle Stable Commonwealth Cup Trial Stakes.