Crystal Ocean© Photo Healy Racing
Sir Michael Stoute's quest to get what would be a much-deserved first Group One triumph with Crystal Ocean came a step closer when the five-year-old outclassed his foes in the Al Rayyan Stakes at Newbury.
Ryan Moore did have to stoke the 2/9 favourite up at the quarter-mile pole, but the entire quickly shook off the attentions of Raymond Tusk before galloping the race out to take the spoils in convincing fashion by two lengths from Laraaib.
It was a performance that makes him a leading light for whichever race the trainer opts for at Royal Ascot.
Crystal Ocean has had to settle for second on each of the three times he has contested a Group One, and having skipped a clash with Magical at the Curragh, he will most likely head for the Prince of Wales's Stakes on the Wednesday of the Royal meeting.
Stoute said: "Today was a messy race and he would be a lot fitter than he was last time.
"He did it well over 10 (furlongs) at Sandown and is in the two races (Prince of Wales’s and Hardwicke Stakes), but the Prince of Wales's is a Group One.
"There's a long way to go and I won't commit yet, though at this stage I would prefer going for the Prince of Wales's."
Paddy Power and Betfair cut the winner to 7/1 from 8/1 for that race.