Hawkbill gamely holds on to lead home Godolphin one-two
Less than a week after the anniversary of his Coral-Eclipse Stakes victory, it looked for a brief moment like Hawkbill had been downgraded to the role of top-class pacemaker by Godolphin on Thursday.
Charlie Appleby's first jockey William Buick was sat in behind on Frontiersman and looked ready to launch a challenge to the James Doyle-ridden stablemate with two furlongs to run.
But Frontiersman, the Dubawi half-brother to Derby winner Australia, showed he was not yet the Group 1 performer of Hawkbill's level and, while veering under pressure, could not get by a determined opponent.
"People thought we were putting him in there as a pace angle," said Appleby. "We knew he'd set a decent gallop but he was in there in his own right. If he gets an uncontested lead, he's dangerous.
"We were looking forward to seeing what Frontiersman could do, but I told James to ride his own race and let him lengthen. I thought James gave him a peach of a ride."
Hawkbill has made two fruitless trips to France this season but he appears not to have the temperament for flying.
Appleby added: "I was disappointed when he went to France but I was confident it was due to the travelling. You have seen his antics in the paddock – he was awash with sweat but that's him. We tried to travel him on the day so that he didn't get wound up too far in advance, but it just didn't materialise for him."
Hawkbill received quotes for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes from bookmakers but the race is a more likely objective for Frontiersman, who would be meeting Ballydoyle superstar Highland Reel for a second time. Hawkbill looks likely to be given a break.
Appleby said: "Frontiersman wandered about due to a bit of inexperience and hopefully he'll get better with racing – he hasn't got much mileage on the clock. I'm still pleased with the run and he has a bright future.
"I don't think we should run away from taking a look at the King George. If he continues to compete at that level he wouldn't look out of place. We'll have the likes of Highland Reel to compete against but at some stage we might get in front of him."
Algometer finished three and three quarter lengths adrift of the front pair but trainer David Simcock was not disappointed.
"An Eclipse winner was allowed an easy lead, and got his own way in front," he said. "We galloped all the way to the line and when he comes off a strong pace, you'll see him in a better light."