It only takes one horse to make Royal Ascot a special occasion and Golden Horde ensured Adam Kirby will treasure this year’s meeting after storming to glory in the Commonwealth Cup.
While several of his weighing-room colleagues can expect to ride multiple winners at the big fixture year on year, finding just a single horse good enough to be a live contender is a challenge for most, given the level of competition.
But in trainer Clive Cox, the 31-year-old has an ally that has helped supply him with a number of horses for the big occasion and the pair teamed up to great effect once again as the son of Lethal Force gained a deserved first Group One triumph in the six-furlong feature.
Kirby said: “I’m very fortunate and I’m very lucky that I have been on a lot of very good sprinters, and I’m lucky to have Clive around me as he is a top man and we get on very well.
“These big winners need to come because the show needs to go on. It’s just a great feeling when you can get a decent horse.
“You owe them the world, as it is very hard to get a special one. When you get a good one it makes it all worthwhile.
“Fitness would not be a problem for one of Clive’s as he is no fool. He had him right. All credit goes to Clive, all I have to do is steer them.”
Though Golden Horde was not winning out of turn having twice been placed in Group One company last year, Kirby hopes he can continue improving with age like his sire, a horse who provided the pair with victory in the 2013 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at the Royal meeting.
Kirby said: “He did deserve it. He was unfortunate to get beat in the Middle Park. We got beat by an exceptional horse on the day in Earthlight. When he won at Goodwood it was an exceptional performance. You can’t take anything away from the horse, he is rock solid.
“It is a very hard question to say which of the different sprinters was best of them all, each and every one of them was very good.
“This fellow is exactly the same as his father. He has got a high cruising speed and he lengthens. He will improve again next year, like his father did.”
Celebrations this week have been very low key, for obvious reasons, but Kirby hopes to find a way of commemorating his latest Group One victory when the time is right.
He said: “When you get in a finish and you start knuckling down you don’t really think about the crowd and the roar. It is just about you and the horse for the last furlong and a half, and you wouldn’t think of anything else apart from getting across the line.
“When you pull up and they are not there it does feel different. I’m not sure how I celebrate this, we will cross that bridge when we get to it as they say.”
It can be hard to read the emotions of some trainers after victory on such a stage. Cox is not one of them, and his smile was broader than ever and his voice much hoarser after shouting his new stable star home, knowing the best is yet to come.
He said: “I’m very proud of him. To win a Group One first time with any horse is difficult, but even more so with the way things are this year.
“He is a horse to go forwards with and I really hope and pray that he has got a longer journey to go ahead of him. He is just top class and great to deal with.
“I think we always trained him last year with the knowledge that with the right sort of behaviour he would be a better horse this year. It is just fantastic when it goes right and the dreams are realised.”
Cox was also quick to suggest what is next on the agenda for Golden Horde.
He added: “I would like to think the July Cup would be next, that was very much on our minds a long way out. He has done the job really well, but I would like to think that has put a real edge on him having a race.”