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Caravaggio paints rosy picture in superb O'Brien double

 

By Graham Clark

Drawing a blank on the first day of Royal Ascot is just a distant memory for trainer Aidan O'Brien after Caravaggio and Winter provided him with a magnificent Group One double on Friday.

Having suffered an uncharacteristically slow start to the meeting, underlined by the shock defeat of dual 2000 Guineas winner Churchill in the St James's Palace Stakes, normal service was resumed thanks to two of his latest high-profile performers.

After leaving his rivals toiling in the Coventry Stakes 12 months ago, Caravaggio made his return visit a successful one when initiating a big-race double for O'Brien and jockey Ryan Moore in claiming his second top-level success in the Commonwealth Cup.

Billed as the race of the week, the outcome did not disappoint and while it looked like the finish would be fought out by the front-running Harry Angel and the strong-travelling Blue Point, it was to fall the way of the odds-on favourite, who waited in the wings until pouncing late on.

Having sat well off the pace the 5-6 market leader motored past the battling Godolphin-owned pair, before moving on to claim victory by three-quarters of a length.

O'Brien said: "I was very nervous today. I am delighted it all went well."

It was expected coming into the season that Winter would play a supporting role behind Fillies' Mile heroine Rhododendron. However, her position as the leading three-year-old filly was cemented in style when leading home a 1-2-3 for the trainer in the Coronation Stakes.

With victory in both the English and Irish 1000 Guineas already assured, the former David Wachman inmate added a major success claiming the mile prize.

There were stings in the tails for Seamie Heffernan, rider of Roly Poly, who received a five-day ban for careless riding, while Padraig Beggy, who was aboard Hydrangea, picked up a two-day suspension for using the whip above the permitted level.

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