Steel too strong for Royal Ascot rivals

By Sports Desk June 23, 2023

King Of Steel gained compensation for his Derby near miss when storming to an impressive victory in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Roger Varian’s lightly-raced son of Wootton Bassett produced a tremendous effort on just his third start when touched off by Auguste Rodin at Epsom and confirmed the promise of that performance in the hands of Kevin Stott at the Berkshire track.

Dubai Mile led from Artistic Star in the early stages, with John and Thady Gosden’s Arrest keen in the hands of Frankie Dettori. But an ultra-confident Stott was in no rush and happy to bide his time aboard the 11-10 favourite, anchoring the King Of Steel in rear.

Stott asked his mount to improve as the six-strong field rounded the turn for home and having made stylish progress to the front, he soon defied momentary greenness to put the race to bed in fine style.

The rider, who was enjoying the his third Royal Ascot winner and first as retained rider for owner Amo Racing, was able to salute the crowd as he crossed the line three and a half lengths clear of Aidan O’Brien’s Continuous who kept on well for second, with Artistic Star a further two and a half lengths back in third.

It was a second winner of the week for Amo and also for the trainer, who struck on day one with Royal Champion, but has since seen big fancies Eldar Eldarov and Sakheer turned over and was making a welcome return visit to the winner’s enclosure.

Varian said: “It’s relief, when they run so well in the Derby you want them to back it up. We were confident he would but we know horse racing! It’s a tough game.

“He’d come out of the Derby so well, he’s such an agile horse and he’s got a great constitution. He’s never left an oat since the Derby, he’s been training super.

“I tried to put into the back of my mind that it was the Derby because we all know they can bounce after their effort at Epsom. I just went on the signs the horse was giving us, which were great.

“Raul Da Silva has done a wonderful job riding this horse most mornings, and the whole team at home. I’m delighted for Kia (Joorabchian of Amo), I was delighted he got his winner yesterday to take a bit of the pressure off for us!

“I’m delighted for the horse, he’s a super horse and he confirmed today what he did in the Derby which is very satisfying.”

Connections had been eyeing the Grand Prix de Paris as a next port of call, and Varian added: “That’s what we’d like to do, but we all know horses so we’ll see how he is tomorrow.”

Stott admitted he had felt the pressure following King Of Steel’s Derby run.

He said: “From the first time I sat on him at Roger’s, he’s always given me a lovely feel. I remember coming home and saying to Meg (Nicholls, agent and partner) that I was really excited about this horse.

“Not running in the Dante, I was a bit disappointed because I wanted to see if he was what I felt at home.

“His run in the Derby was incredible, so coming here obviously there was a huge amount of pressure on me and Roger.

“He was a bit keen, we didn’t go overly quick. We could easily drop him back if we had to, he’s got plenty of speed and in four strides he put the race to bed. It’s brilliant for everyone here.”

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