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Wild Tiger roars for Saeed bin Suroor in Royal Hunt Cup

Wild Tiger and Oisin MurphyWild Tiger and Oisin Murphy
© Photo Healy Racing

Wild Tiger made it four wins from four outings on British soil after coming out of the pack to strike for Saeed bin Suroor in the Royal Hunt Cup and give Oisin Murphy a double on day two of Royal Ascot.

Metal Merchant was the first to lay down a challenge as the race entered the halfway stage down the centre of the track, but Murphy and Wild Tiger were prominent as he stalked his rival.

The Frankel gelding – a half-brother to Dubai World Cup runner-up Algiers – followed up wins at Yarmouth and Goodwood this season as he took an advantage entering the final furlong before being chased down by the fast-finishing Sonny Liston, who had occupied the runner-up berth 12 months ago.

But the line came in time for the Godolphin-owned five-year-old to come home by a head as the 11-2 joint-favourite and give the popular Bin Suroor a 39th Royal Ascot winner, and another Hunt Cup winner in quick succession after Real World in 2021. Perotto stayed on for third, a further three-quarters of length adrift.

“I always liked him. Last year he had some tiny problems and I stopped running him. I don’t think he is going to be a handicap horse, we will be looking for Group races, Group Three, but I think we will still be at a mile as he has plenty of speed,” said Bin Suroor, who these days does not have the firepower of old at his disposal.

“The numbers are down from 250 horses to 40 horses, but luckily we still have luck with some of them. Last year we had Mawj who was the 1000 Guineas winner but also she won in America, a Grade One.

“Always we are searching for something, it’s not easy. We have to keep a small number, but we have to think they could do something, it is not easy for the stable, luckily this horse has done good for us today. It’s a big thing for the stable.

“It is not easy, but we do it because we have to do it, we have no options.”

He added: “We have to keep up her enthusiasm for it because we don’t have a choice, we have to do our best with what we have, but winning a race at Royal Ascot makes it easier! I am always happy when I win a race with a class horse.

“I said to Oisin, keep out of the way of the others! I said that this was my chance to have a winner here. He’s a top-class jockey and he did it very well.”

Paying tribute to Bin Suroor, Murphy said: “Saeed provided me with my first Royal Ascot winner (Benbatl) and he’s given me another one today.

“He’s been integral in my career. I’m very grateful to him and his Highness Sheikh Mohamed, and all the people who work for Godolphin. It’s a huge operation and these successes are important.

“He got the mile well, he relaxed brilliantly. He had the perfect preparation and Saeed was very confident – he told me I’d win and I’m glad we got it done.”

Doha came with a late charge to collar favourite Hopeful in the Kensington Palace Stakes.

The daughter of dual Arc heroine Treve followed in the slipstream of the market leader before launching her challenge inside the final furlong.

Hector Crouch timed his run to perfection and the Ralph Beckett-trained filly just got up to win by a head at 10-1.

Beckett said: “It’s been a bit of a circuitous route, we dropped her back to a mile because we thought there was a winnable maiden.

“Then this spring, Royal Ascot is obviously a big deal for Sheikh Joaan and Al Shaqab. It just occurred to me that dropping back to a mile at a track like this where they go a strong gallop might just play to her strengths.

“Obviously she’d bred to get a mile and a half, and more, but it was a roll of the dice. It was worth doing and it worked out.”

Crouch added: “She’s got improvement to come, it’s only her second time trying a mile and it’s her first time on good ground. They pulled a long way clear of the third and she should be one to keep on the right side of.

“This is the biggest week in British racing and Sheikh Joaan, to ride a winner for him, he’s been a massive supporter of the sport in years gone by and it’s great that he’s having a resurgence in England. It’s a massive honour and privilege to ride for these people, and to ride them a winner on the biggest stage is what we want to be doing.

“She’s a special horse to Sheikh Joaan, who owned Treve. She hasn’t quite sparkled at stud so far so it’s lovely that one of her daughters is going on to do good things.”

The Kevin Ryan-trained Ain’t Nobody followed up his debut win at Carlisle when striking late to win the Windsor Castle Stakes.

North American raider Gabaldon ran a strong race up the near-side rail and led until being run down in the final half-furlong by the Jamie Spencer-ridden 5-1 shot.