Triple Time narrowly denied Frankie Dettori a dream start to his final appearance at Royal Ascot in the curtain-raising Queen Anne Stakes.
Dettori, who announced in December that he will bring his glittering riding career to an end later this year, has a strong book rides at a meeting he has dominated and looked to have an excellent chance of getting the week off to a winning start aboard top-class filly Inspiral.
After riding a patient race, Dettori delivered the 11-4 chance with what looked a perfectly-timed challenge, but she came off second best after a tussle with the widely-unconsidered Triple Time.
The Kevin Ryan-trained winner had been off the track since finishing down the field in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein at ParisLongchamp in October and was a 33-1 shot in the hands of Neil Callan.
The son of Frankel raced keenly for much of the one-mile contest and having pulled his way to the front end he looked sure to be claimed by Inspiral, but found plenty once challenged to prevail by a neck.
Light Infantry, who raced prominently, held on to beat 7-4 favourite Modern Games to third.
Ryan said: “He got stomach cramp just before the Lockinge and we had to take him out, he’s only had one ordinary run and that was in France in deep ground. Apart from that, when he came back from his little injury at Haydock he was 80 per cent fit, we had to run him because we were running out of time.
“Hopefully we’ll now have a full season with him, he’s got his Group One and it’s great. I’m delighted for all my team and Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, he’s a big supporter of us. He’s so patient and I’m delighted to get a big one for him, especially here.”
He went on: “He’s up there (with the best I’ve had), he’s very good.
“He’s got a massive stride, he has to use it and as long as you can get him to control it over the first two (furlongs), the rest of the race was then pretty relaxed.
“We knew we had him as good as we could get him with out a run, it’s paid off.
“We’ve got today out of the way and now we can make a plan.”
Callan – recording his second Group One winner after his long spell riding in Hong Kong – said: “I’m speechless for once, and a bit emotional as well.
“When I came back from riding in Hong Kong I didn’t really know what to expect. I rode very competitively there, as I did here before I left. But you are not guaranteed anything in this game and you have to work for what you get. I was lucky that when I came back Kevin Ryan gave me some support. Kevin was so confident in this horse and said he’s the best horse he’s trained.”
Of Inspiral, who was making her seasonal return, Dettori said: “It was a super run. I got there, but then Neil got me back. It was a super run.”
Her joint-trainer John Gosden added: “She switched off, she’s done everything right, gone to win her race but then the other one has come back. There were lots of good horses in there. We can look a races like the Sussex Stakes and the Prix Jacques le Marois that she won last year. She’s back on song, that’s the main thing.
“She was a little slowly away but that’s her style, she doesn’t want to break in the lead. She did everything right but got caught. It was a very nice run for her first run of the year. She’ll come on for the race, it’s not often you say that after a Group One but she will. I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Light Infantry is joining Ciaron Maher and David Eustace in Australia later this year, and his trainer. Simcock said: “He’s run a super race. We’re still learning about him and as we’re learning so will Ciaron be. I’m not sure when he’s going, we’ll have to have a chat and see how much of a break he will want before he goes.
“He might have one (run) here or he might go straight from here.”