Art Power proves picture perfect in Ascot romp

Dazzling display from Easterby-trained grey.

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Art Power looked the proverbial Group horse in a handicap when routing a big field in the Palace of Holyroodhouse Handicap at Royal Ascot.

Heavily supported, the grey, trained in North Yorkshire by Tim Easterby, was sent off the 6-4 favourite despite facing 20 largely unexposed rivals.

A winner at York by five lengths at the end of last season, he reappeared at Newcastle on the day racing resumed with another impressive display, leaving connections with a decision to make.

He had the option of taking on Group One rivals in the Commonwealth Cup over six furlongs, but given his mark was left alone following his Newcastle romp, taking on handicappers over five appealed more and the right call was made.

Former champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa bounced the King Power Racing-owned colt out smartly and he was always towards the head of affairs before he began to pull clear with two furlongs to run.

John Quinn’s Keep Busy weaved through to claim second, three and a half lengths away, but in truth the first running of this race was all about one horse.

Betfair introduced the winner into the betting for the Nunthorpe at 14-1.

William Easterby, assistant to his father, said: “He’s a really nice horse. It was (King Power racing manager) Alistair Donald’s decision which race he ran in and it’s worked out well.

“We’ve always liked him. We took our time with him last year and it’s seems to have paid off.

“I think that will be the end of his handicap days. He won over six furlongs last time, so he could run other either five or six next time – we’ll just see what there is.

“This was the first target. It’s great to get a winner at Royal Ascot for the King Power team. We’ll just see how he is and go from there.

“I don’t think dad will want to over-face him too soon, but races like that (Nunthorpe) and the Abbaye could be of interest to him.”

Speaking from home, Tim Easterby said: “He’s a machine. To me it was pretty obvious the race he should run in. He’s still an inexperienced horse and he could do with some more experience before taking on those big guns.

“We had in our minds after Newcastle this race was the race for him. Watching the build up to the race on TV I was getting very nervous, thinking ‘I wish they’d talk about another horse!’.

“He’s just a natural. He doesn’t pull or anything – he just does everything right. He reminds of Pipalong in that he’s a very clean-winded horse and a complete natural.”

Asked whether a tilt at the Nunthorpe could be on the agenda later in the year, Easterby added: “Definitely. Whether we go to Goodwood or somewhere else first, we’ll wait and see.

“He might meet him (Battaash), but I’m not too worried actually. He (Art Power) is just a very good horse with no issues – I’m delighted to have him.”

De Sousa said: “He’s a very talented horse. He won at Newcastle, nothing could give me a lead there and we decided to go for this race because we thought he had a few pounds in hand.

“I went out there hoping to get a lead, but he was so quick from the gates nothing could give me a lead. I just rode a race from the front and he’s a horse with two gears – quick and quicker!

“I don’t think we’ll see him in a handicap again, but he’s better than a handicapper – he’s a horse I think a lot of and I think he’s better than a Listed horse.

“He’s still a baby. I would like to keep him at five furlongs this year and step him up to six next year when he grows up.”

Hollie Doyle added her name to the Royal Ascot record books by becoming only the third female rider to partner a winner at the showpiece meeting, as she stormed home aboard Scarlet Dragon (33-1) for Alan King in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes.

Doyle – who already holds the record for number of winners ridden in a calendar year by a female – joins Gay Kelleway and Hayley Turner on the Ascot roll of honour.

Art Power proves picture perfect in Ascot romp
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