• Horse Racing

St Nicholas Abbey takes Coronation Cup at Epsom

ESPN staff
June 2, 2012
St Nicholas Abbey ridden by Joseph O'Brien wins the Diamond Jubilee Coronation Cup © PA Photos

St Nicholas Abbey, the 8/11 odds-on favourite, strode to an easy victory in the Diamond Jubilee Coronation Cup at Epsom on Saturday.

Piloted by Joseph O'Brien, the favourite cruised where his rivals toiled, comfortably coping with the pace set by Robin Hood. The outcome was inevitable, with a winning margin of four-and-a-half lengths from Red Cadeaux.

Defending his title, the son of Montjeu settled towards the rear in the early stages of the race, but had plenty in the tank as they approached the home bend. O'Brien barely had to push his charge as they hit the front, with little challenge offered from the rest of the field.

"When he goes to sleep early in his races, he's a very special horse," O'Brien said. "He has always shown a lot of ability and he's really coming back to his old form.

"I got to the front too soon as he picked up going past the four-furlong marker and I didn't want to disappoint him. When he relaxes and quickens up like that, it takes a very good one to go near him."

Winning trainer Aidan O'Brien added: "He settled lovely and got into a great rhythm. Joseph just didn't break it then when he started to come, so it was great. He has the option of the Prince of Wales' Stakes at Ascot and he has the option of the King George, then obviously there is the Arc at the end of the year. He's a very exciting horse."

The Diamond Jubilee Handicap got the day off to a dramatic start after 5/1 shot Wrotham Heath claimed a thrilling victory in a race that saw Star Date fall. Wrotham Heath, ridden by Tom Queally, beat 7/2 favourite Grandeur by a neck, with Spoke to Carlo in third.

"Although he travelled very strongly, they were stacking up one by one to have a pop at him and in fairness to the horse he pulled out enough and he was strong at the line," Queally said. "I don't know whether this is the ideal place for him or not, but he won well anyway despite that."

Mick Channon's Chilworth Icon nudged out Heavy Metal to take the Investec Woodcote Stakes. The 12/1 fancy showed the greater staying power to win by a short-head.

As the field quickly spread it became a three-way battle, with Liber fading into third. Heavy Metal tried valiantly but could not steal ahead of Martin Harley's ride, with the jockey adding a Woodcote triumph to the Irish 1000 Guineas he won with Samitar last weekend.

Meanwhile, at Haydock Frankie Dettori endured a disappointing day, starting with a shock in the Blue Square Maiden Stakes, which saw him beaten on 11/8 favourite Bayan by 14/1 chance Fleeting Image. He then failed to feature among the challengers aboard Khawlah as Shimmering Surf took the Grosvenor Casinos Pinnacle Stakes.

It was a similar story for Dettori on Samminder in the Blue Square Sandy Lane Stakes, where his presence was once again overlooked as Slade Power claimed the win. In his fourth and final ride, the Cecil Frail Stakes, Dettori was run out of the places aboard Pepper Lane as Inetrobil obliged at 20/1.

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