Universal quickening well to score at Newmarket on ThursdayPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Universal on top in Princess of Wales's
Report: Newmarket, Thursday
Princess of Wales's boylesports.com Stakes (Group 2) 1m4f, 3yo+
UNIVERSAL, who produced a gutsy display to win the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes on Newmarket's Rowley Mile in May, again showed his battling qualities to land the Princess of Wales's boylesports.com Stakes at the track's July course on Thursday.
Joe Fanning, the winning rider in the Jockey Club Stakes, was at his best on the son of Dubawi who raced in Dubai at the start of the year without success but has excelled since.
Fanning pushed him into an early lead with Danadana, Cavalryman and Ahzeemah giving chase.
The Godolphin pair Cavalryman and Ahzeemah looked to be struggling in the straight when Fanning kicked the 3-1 favourite clear.
They did respond though and ran on to claim the places - Ahzeemah was second at 13-2 and Cavalryman third at 7-2 - but never looked like catching the impressive Mark Johnston-trained winner, who has a range of international options.
"He's been fantastic since he came back from Dubai, a complete revelation since he returned home," said Johnston, who trains the four-year-old for Abdulla Al Mansoori.
"Interestingly, he was mostly tried over a mile and a quarter last year, but we always thought he'd stay further.
"It would be very interesting to see him over a mile six in something like the Irish St Leger."
Before that a crack at the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes could be next for Universal.
Paddy Power quote him at 33-1 for Ascot's summer showpiece on July 27 and Johnston added: "The obvious question is do we go for the King George. The owner said let's wait a week before we decide but this horse thrives on his races and barring a physical reason he will go to the King George.
"The plan is very much a Group 1, then races like the Irish St Leger, Canadian International, Japan Cup - they would be the dreams in my head at the moment."
Fanning, no doubt, will be keen to keep the ride for those prestigious contests.
"He's very tough," the winning rider said. "He's run great races and hasn't run a bad one this year.
"He does quicken well and the fast ground helps - he likes that. I always felt he had plenty left and it's grand."