Naval Crown provides more joy for James Doyle at Royal Ascot

Sat 18 Jun 2022

When Godolphin field a pair of runners there is an unspoken but not entirely reliable understanding that the more fancied horse wears the first silks, solid royal blue, and the second string runs in the second colours, royal blue with a white cap.

It was certainly the case during the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in April, the opening colts’ Classic of the season, where Native Trail, unbeaten in four runs as a juvenile, was the 5-4 favourite under William Buick.

James Doyle wore the white cap and was legged up on Coroebus, a 5-1 shot assumed to be a lesser threat than his dual Group One-winning stablemate.

It was not a hierarchy Coroebus agreed with and he defied the market’s estimation, and perhaps that of trainer Charlie Appleby, with a three-quarter-length victory over his Godolphin counterpart – the first leg of Doyle’s Guineas double as Cachet took the fillies’ equivalent the following day. The first British Classics of his career.

At Royal Ascot on Saturday the jockey was again set to ride the larger-priced horse as the Platinum Jubilee Stakes rolled around, though this time neither of Godolphin’s two contenders were particularly favoured as a quality international field had assembled for the six-furlong Group One.

Chris Waller was searching for another Royal Ascot sprint trophy with Home Affairs, the 5-2 favourite, looking to follow up Nature Strip’s brilliant King’s Stand success for the Australian contingent.

In a field of 24 runners, Doyle’s mount Naval Crown started at 33-1 and Creative Force at 12-1, with the two sons of Dubawi sharing a paternal bloodline but not a racing line as the former was drawn in stall 20 and the latter in stall one.

They remained separated by the breadth of the track as the race unfolded, with Naval Crown challenging down the inner rail and only one horse closer to the outer rail than Creative Force at the final-furlong marker.

On the approach to the line the two boys in blue bookended the field, a photo finish eventually confirming that it was Doyle and the bay head of Naval Crown that had passed the post a neck to the good – a second win the race for the rider after Blue Point for Appleby in 2019.

The result came as something of a shock to Doyle, who said: “Obviously I saw it was Creative Force and we were separated by the width of the track. It felt like I did (get beaten) and it’s a lovely surprise.

“He’s a tank, isn’t he? He’s not overly tall, but he’s a typical sprinter.

“He has always had a lot of quality and we know what his ideal conditions are now and it’s great that Charlie and (owner) His Highness Sheikh Mohammed have had a wonderful week. It’s great to get one for them.

“At halfway I just got a lovely draft into the race behind Home Affairs, and he kind of dropped away around the two and a half. We had to be pretty brave and kick for home, but Naval Crown has campaigned over further.

“We knew the last furlong would be a fair way, but he’s got the stamina in his legs from going further.

“This race is one of the highlights of the week, so to be able to win it again, and to do it for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and Charlie – they’ve had an awesome week so far.

“Any season, to get two Classic winners right at the start of the season is incredible and sets the bar quite high – it’s a tough act to follow!

“This is what it’s all about. It’s really tough when you’re going into the last day here (without a winner).

“Charlie said to me this morning, ‘why are you looking so grumpy?’ – I said, ‘I’m running out of bullets!’. So for this fella to get us out of jail is brilliant.

“William said it was about time I pulled my finger out – he’s been winding me up all week – so when you get one on the board, it settles everything down a bit.

“When you’re running out of time, it makes it quite tough. I thoroughly enjoy this meeting – it’s just marvellous.”

Appleby said: “Coming into today, Creative Force was drawn in stall one and Naval Crown was in stall 20 near the favourite. We felt the ground would be quick enough for Creative Force.

“They are just two tough horses. Two Dubawis who are as tough as teak. They have a habit of finishing first and second.

“Back from Dubai Millennium, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed has always had a fondness for him having sired Dubawi. To produce a sire like Dubawi and given what Dubawi has been doing, I’m just lucky to be in the position for these horses to come through my door.”

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