Joseph O’Brien could hardly have been happier with the seasonal reappearance of Ascot Gold Cup favourite Leading Light at Navan.
The Ladbrokes St Leger hero impressed in taking the Coolmore Vintage Crop Stakes by three lengths from Royal Diamond on Sunday, defying a penalty in the process.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt has already shown his liking for Royal Ascot in taking the two-mile Queen’s Vase last year, and is not expected to have a problem in staying two and a half miles in the highlight of the big meeting on June 19.
The rider said: “You’d have to be delighted. I was able to get a lead for the main part of the race until two down and he went out to the line well. You couldn’t ask for a better comeback.
“They went a right gallop all the way, there was no hiding place. I was giving weight to all the other horses and on form it looked a strong enough race. We were delighted and hopefully he can progress like he did last year.
“He’s always a laid-back horse and quite lazy in front, so I just had to give him a couple of smacks to keep him up to it but he always does when you do. He’s a very exciting stayer.
“It looked a very good race on paper, the second had won on Champions Day at Ascot and is an Irish Leger winner and the third Pale Mimosa is highly thought of, so it looked a very strong race. I was giving the second 2lb and the third 8lb, so it was a big ask.
“He’s in the Saval Beg at Leopardstown and he could go there or straight to Ascot, racing doesn’t take much out of him. There’s no reason to suggest he won’t stay.”
Meanwhile, punters were left scratching their heads at Redcar as Cool Music made a 100-1 winning debut in the Voltigeur Restaurant £11.95 Two Course Special Maiden Fillies’ Stakes.
As trainer Mel Brittain is not known for having first-time-out winners and rider Robert Dodsworth had only one previous success to his name, it was perhaps no surprise bookmakers gave the unraced four-year-old little chance.
However, there appeared to be no fluke as the daughter of Aidan O’Brien’s former Group One winner One Cool Cat hit the front a furlong out and held off Gotcha by half a length, with the market leader Moonvoy a well-beaten fourth.