THE stellar performances on the opening day of Royal Ascot were numerous with Baaeed setting a high standard in the opening Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes which Coroebus matched in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
However, the honour of the best performance on the clock belongs to Australian champion sprinter Nature Strip (133+) who was scintillating in winning the King’s Stand Stakes.
The international feel to the Group 1 sprint was evident from the start as Ponntos was the quickest away, with Nature Strip and, to a far greater extent, Golden Pal missing the start.
However, after a furlong they were both level with the Czech runner as the field hurtled down the Ascot straight.
As the two-furlong marker came and went the dominance of Chris Waller’s gelding was already apparent as James McDonald sat motionless while the other jockeys asked their mounts for more effort.
The seven-year-old went on to win by an enormous four and a half lengths and post the fastest time figure I have ever recorded for a sprinter.
The closing three-furlong sectional supports the fast time as the 9/4 favourite clocked 33.80secs to conclude his race, which was 0.34secs (roughly two lengths) quicker than second-placed Twilight Calls (120) who covered the same ground in 34.14secs.
Henry Candy’s gelding ran a career best in defeat on his preferred fast ground, reversing form with King’s Lynn (113) from Haydock with the underfoot conditions as much in his favour as against the Royal runner.
Acklam Express (119) and Equilateral (116) have locked horns plenty in the past and on this occasion, it was Nigel Tinkler’s gelding who came out on top.
However, his closing sectional of 34.54secs was surpassed by Charlie Hills’s seven-year-old who stopped the clock at 34.39secs suggesting the son of Equiano is the one to side with when the pair clash in the future.
Mooneista (117) and Saint Lawrence (115) were the closers from the rear with the latter making more appeal going forwards as Roger Varian’s colt challenged away from his draw in closing off in 34.26secs.
Mooneista covered the same ground in 34.33secs after travelling well to halfway. The daughter of Dandy Man looks caught between trips to my eye, looking short of the required speed for five furlongs while not quite the stamina for the extra furlong.