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Declaration Of War victorious as Animal Kingdom flops

18 Jun 2013

The much-vaunted Declaration Of War, trained by Aidan O'Brien, made up for his JLT Lockinge flop with a fine victory in the opening race of Royal Ascot, as hot favourite Animal Kingdom folded tamely.

Declaration Of War wins the Queen Anne from Aljamaaheer. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

Declaration Of War, who was backed off the boards to win the JLT Lockinge Stakes when finishing a well beaten fifth, showed his true colours in the opening race of Royal Ascot.

USA star Animal Kingdon started the hot favourite, but he could not get cover over the straight mile, something which he had never encountered in a race before, and did not settle in the early part of the race.

When asked to quicken, he folded tamely to finish 11th and will now retire to stud.

Declaration Of War always travelled well behind the leaders.

Briefly short of room, his jockey, Joseph O’Brien, pushed him through a gap and he quickened smartly to collar Aljamaaheer and win going away.

Aljamaaheer, who had finished third in the JLT Lockinge, was beaten three quarters of a length and is clearly improving, while Gregorian ran a fine race to finish third, one place ahead of his stable companion, Elusive Kate.

One can question the form – if Farhh, who is injured, had run, then on Lockinge form he would have won easily – but take nothing away from Declaration Of War who looks destined to be a top miler.

Aidan O’Brien, saddling his 38th Royal Ascot winner, said: "We are delighted. We thought the world of him last year.

"He just had an easy win first time at Leopardstown and then he went to the Lockinge.

"I left him unready and he wasn’t ready for the race at the time, but he has made great progress since and has come back to what we thought and hoped he would be.

"He has a lot of speed, so Joseph waited as long as he could.

"He’s a big powerful horse and when he asked him he put his head down and went through.

"He’s all speed, he’s all Danzig.

"He has all the options, but I’d drop him back in trip more than anything, rather then stepping him up."

Animal Kingdom’s trainer, Graham Motion, said: "Johnny said he had to fight very hard and didn’t find much when he asked him.

"The ground was softer than we thought, but that is no excuse.

"This is what I always cautioned – it’s such a different ball game to what he is used to.

"The draw (stall 13 of 13) made it awkward, but I’m just sorry for everyone that it didn’t work out as we had hoped."