Royal Ascot 2018: Merchant Navy wins as Harry Angel injured in stalls

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport at Ascot
Ryan Moore on Merchant Navy
Merchant Navy and City Light fought out a tightly-contested race

Jockey Ryan Moore sealed a big-race double at Royal Ascot as he gained a thrilling victory on Merchant Navy in a dramatic Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

The 4-1 winner, trained in Ireland by Aidan O'Brien, beat French hope City Light by a short head, with American challenger Bound For Nowhere third.

Favourite Harry Angel was seventh after being fractious, getting a leg stuck in the stalls and starting slowly.

Moore had earlier ridden Crystal Ocean to victory in the Hardwicke Stakes.

It was an 11th success in the race for record-breaking trainer Sir Michael Stoute.

O'Brien finished the 2018 meeting as leading trainer for the fourth consecutive time, on four wins, while Moore's five victories this week meant he was top jockey for the eighth time in nine years.

In the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, a sprint over six furlongs, Harry Angel - trained by Clive Cox - became upset in the stalls before stumbling out under Adam Kirby.

Bound For Nowhere set the pace, but it was Merchant Navy who just prevailed in a pulsating climax from the fast-finishing City Light. Last year's winner The Tin Man was fourth.

"If I had got beat, I would have been very unlucky, but I'm delighted and it's a pleasure to be riding these sort of horses," said Moore.

Cox said Harry Angel had suffered a puncture wound to a hind leg in the starting stalls.

"Adam couldn't see. He started the race on three legs. He was stood like a dog with his leg up," said Cox.

"The race is irrelevant. All I'm concerned about his well-being. The vets are very positive on that."

Crystal clear for Stoute

It has been a week to remember for Stoute, who became the meeting's all-time leading trainer with the victory of Poet's Word on Wednesday.

Crystal Ocean, now around 9-4 favourite for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes back at Ascot next month, provided his fourth win of the week, and 79th overall.

Ryan Moore on Crystal Ocean
Crystal Ocean won by two and a half lengths

Asked which of his 11 Hardwicke Stakes winners was the best, Stoute replied with a broad grin: "They never galloped with each other."

Moore, stable jockey for O'Brien, had been allowed to ride the horse for Stoute rather than the Irish trainer's Cliffs of Moher or Idaho - which proved to be a tip in itself.

He guided the 4-7 favourite calmly to the front and eased clear for a comfortable victory from 33-1 outsider Red Verdon, who will be aimed at November's Melbourne Cup, in which trainer Ed Dunlop's Red Cadeaux finished runner-up three times.

'A phoenix from the flames'

There was a poignant winner for Betfair co-founder Andrew Black, who owns and bred the Chesham Stakes victor Arthur Kitt.

The 13-2 chance, ridden by Richard Kingscote for trainer Tom Dascombe, is a son of Ceiling Kitty, a winner of the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2012 who died after complications when giving birth to Arthur Kitt.

"I have more emotion attached to this horse than any other I have owned. The night he was born was such an incredibly difficult, painful night," said Black.

Patrick Sells, the vet at Black's Chasemore Farm breeding operation, said Arthur Kitt did not breathe for five minutes after his birth.

"We were thinking of giving up and he was like a phoenix from the flames to get through that," he said.

Soldier's Call (12-1) took the Windsor Castle Stakes under Daniel Tudhope, seeing off Sabre and Dom Carlos to give trainer Archie Watson his first Royal Ascot winner.

Watson, who only started as a trainer in his own right two years ago, also saddled Nate The Great, beaten just a neck by Arthur Kitt in the opening Chesham Stakes.

Despite 28 runners, Dreamfield was sent off the 2-1 favourite in the Wokingham Handicap but he was denied by 33-1 shot Bacchus, ridden by Jim Crowley for trainer Brian Meehan.

Crowley was given a four-day ban and Dreamfield's jockey James Doyle suspended for two days for whip offences.

The 30th, and final, race of the meeting - the Queen Alexandra Stakes - went to Pallasator (11-2), ridden by Jamie Spencer for trainer Gordon Elliott.

More than 300,000 racegoers attended the five days and there were no reports of significant trouble after extra security measures were brought in following recent racecourse violence at Goodwood and Ascot.


BBC racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

A good victory for Merchant Navy, and another fine training performance by Aidan O'Brien to win this only weeks after the horse's arrival in Ireland, but the virtual non-participation of such a significant contender in Harry Angel ruined the race.

It sounds as though he'll be OK, but it seems Ascot - where he had not won in four previous races - is just not his track.

Final thought: a really great week for master-trainer Michael Stoute continued with Crystal Ocean in the Hardwicke, as did the rise and rise of trainer Archie Watson, winner of the Windsor Castle with Soldier's Call - in his second season, Watson is going places.