Aidan O’Brien celebrated his 80th Royal Ascot winner after Derby fifth Changingoftheguard made all of the running to capture the G2 King Edward VII Stakes.
Given a positive ride by Ryan Moore, the 11/10 favourite kept finding for pressure along the inside rail to edge out Grand Alliance (10/1) by a short-head, with four lengths back to Lysander (15/2) in third.
However, the result might well have been different had the runner-up not wandered badly to his left in the closing stages, costing himself more ground than he was beaten at the line. Danny Tudhope’s mount traded as short as 1/25 in running.
O’Brien said: “We are just so privileged to be dealing with these horses and to be working for John and Sue Magnier, Derrick and Gay Smith, Michael and Doreen Tabor and now Georg and Emily von Opel. It is a big team effort between Ballydoyle and Coolmore. We feel very privileged to be the small part we are.
“Changingoftheguard is a tough hardy horse, and Ryan gave him a brilliant ride. He is a very genuine horse and will stay further. We think the horse might be very happy going the St Leger trip. He doesn’t surrender.”
Moore said: “Changingoftheguard was not at his best today. Even around the track, he was having a look and wasn’t focused. He kept going and the runner-up has run across the track, but I needed a bit of help really.
“He is a very honest horse, but he just gallops. He could have done with a bit of company and a bit of help. He wasn’t getting a lot of it and we were sitting ducks, but he does have that bit of class.
“It is tough to go from Epsom to here in 13 days. I would imagine he may be a Great Voltigeur/St Leger horse going forwards.”
John Magnier said: “It’s well known and well discussed that Galileos have their will to win and it’s coming through with his sons and daughters. It is all over the place really – the secret is out.
“That does the talking [899 Group winners for Aidan O’Brien] and he doesn’t have to do it. It’s refreshing to see a modest approach, I think. You see it with Chris Waller too. Their records show it.”
Charlie Fellowes said of the wayward runner-up: “To have a really good one for the Roys [owners] is fantastic. They have been supporters of mine for quite a long time now, and the lads have done such a great job with the horse.
“He is not straightforward. He has his own ideas about the game, but he’s very talented and is a pleasure to have around the place. It’s just nice to train good horses. He’ll have his day – it’s not today, but he will.
“I did not think the visor was going to make any difference for the first half of the race, and then, a bit like at Epsom, he sort of clocked on a bit earlier this time and cruised round the corner, and I thought, all right! Then when he’s in the straight, he veers further and further across… maybe the ground didn’t help. “The St Leger has been mentioned. Whether he’ll stay that far, I don’t know. I think Danny [Tudhope] was more worried about how knackered he’d be at the end of the Leger, pushing him round that far! We’ll see.”