Kingman streaked past rival Night of Thunder with a scintillating burst in the final furlong Tuesday to win the St. James’s Palace Stakes, the feature race of the opening day of the Royal Ascot meeting.
Kingman, the 8-11 favorite, broke to the front from the outside and pulled away for a 2-1/4-length victory over Night of Thunder, the 3-1 second favorite. Outstrip was third.
Kingman beat Night of Thunder by four lengths on April 12 in the Greenham Stakes, but Night of Thunder won the 2,000 Guineas by half a length on May 3.
In Tuesday’s third matchup between the two horses, Kingman proved his superiority.
Ridden by James Doyle, Kingman settled in the pack for most of the race while Richard Hughes kept Night of Thunder out in front. When the horses turned into the home straight, Kingman made up the ground in a matter of strides and shot to the lead.
Doyle gestured for silence with his index finger as he crossed the finish.
”It’s almost like they can’t go quick enough for him,” he said. ”He’s got so much pace, he’s almost climbing over the back of them wanting them to go quicker. I’m just very lucky to be … on his back.”
Trainer John Gosden praised his horse’s acceleration.
"I sat down with James in the weighing room because I didn’t want to get confused with everyone else’s tactics in the parade ring,” he said. ”I said whatever they do, ride him cool.”
The opening day of the five-day meet was marred by the deaths of two horses.
Case Statement was pulled up after two furlongs in the Coventry Stakes with a leg injury, and X-rays showed a fracture of the fetlock.
"Following full evaluation, the nature of the injury was such that, sadly, there was no other option but the horse to be humanely put down,” Jenny Hall, chief veterinary officer for the British Horseracing Authority, said.
Sir Graham Wade was injured and pulled up in the Ascot Stakes. Hall said the gelding had a serious pelvic fracture and was euthanized.
In the day’s first race, favorite Toronado used a decisive surge over the final furlong to win the Queen Anne Stakes.
Toronado, the 4-5 shot ridden by Richard Hughes, won the 1-mile Group 1 race by three-quarters of a length ahead of 6-1 Verrazano. Anodi, at 9-1, was third.
It was the 4-year-old colt’s first race since last August and gave trainer Richard Hannon a winner at Royal Ascot for the first time since he took over the family stable from his father, Richard Sr., six months ago.
Toronado’s run also gave Qatari Sheik Joaan Al Thani his first win of the week as he looks to establish Al Shaqab Racing’s position in elite horse racing.
The day began with the traditional royal carriage procession along the course. Queen Elizabeth II was joined by Prince Phillip and Prince Harry in her carriage. Among those in attendance was German tennis great Steffi Graf.