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Goldikova - Royal Ascot 15.06.10

Goldikova (right) holds off the determined challenge of Paco Boy (left)

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker/  

Superstar Goldikova foils Paco in Queen Anne duel

Report: Royal Ascot, Tuesday

Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1) 1m (straight), 4yo+

SUPERSTAR mare Goldikova put in another trademark performance to land a thrilling opener to Royal Ascot on Tuesday, quickening away from her rivals and then holding off the late challenge of Paco Boy by a neck.

In a Group 1 curtain-raiser that lived up to great expectations, the two-time Breeders' Cup Mile winner, sent off the 11-8 favourite, sat behind a good pace set by Calming Influence and third favourite of the 'big three', Rip Van Winkle, kicking for home under Olivier Peslier with about two furlongs to travel.

The pair stretched away to lead by around two lengths, but Lockinge Stakes winner and secondfavourite Paco Boy emerged from the chasers under Richard Hughes and mounted a sustained and steely attempt to reel in the winner, failing only by a neck.

Rip Van Winkle, who helped to set the early pace under Johnny Murtagh, faded late on, while none of the others got in a blow, with Dream Eater staying on for third.

Goldikova was trainer Freddie Head's first Royal Ascot winner and he said immediately after the race: "When she goes to the front she’s never beaten, she always finds more - she is extraordinary."

Asked about race tactics for Goldikova, Head said: “Olivier is the rider, he does what he wants. I’m just the trainer.

“I thought she showed her best today. She was relaxed in the race and I was never worried.”

Peslier said: "I had a good draw and I just got her a bit of cover from one horse. She was very relaxed. Maybe I camea bit early, but she is a strong filly and I knew Paco Boy would wait a long time.

"At the furlong pole I just had to keep going. She is lovely and the filly went straight into the stalls, no problem. This is fantastic, this is adream."

Head said that Goldikova's next stop would be Deauville in August, where either the Prix Jacques le Marois (1m) or the Prix de la Foret (7f) is the target.

William Hill quote Goldikova at 7-4 to land a third Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs in November.

Paco Boy's trainer Richard Hannon said: “He didn’t get the greatest passage in the world. The winner took a bit out of us whenshe kicked. In a few more strides he’d have got there.

“They were three-and-a-half lengths clear of the third which shows what two very good horses they are.”

Johnny Murtagh said of the disappointing Rip Van Winkle, who finished sixth: "He got tired. They quickened up by him and he was just able to stay on.

"He gave a big heave a furlong out and that was him done. Our horses are coming on so much for their first runs and they seem to be fitter at home than they probably are."

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Khalid Abdullah, whose Zacinto finished fourth, said: "That was a much better run - he's back on track but probably wants a bit further."

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