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Nazeef just holds on to land the Duke of Cambridge Stakes for in-form Crowley

Nazeef and Jim Crowley winning the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes
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Nazeef recorded her fifth victory in a row in the Group 2 Duke ff Cambridge Stakes for John Gosden and in-form jockey Jim Crowley.

The four-year-old held on gamely from 28-1 shot Agincourt and was given the verdict after a photo-finish, with Queen Power in third. 

Victory gave Crowley a day one treble, following a dazzling King's Stand win aboard Battaash and success in the Buckingham Palace Handicap on Motakhayyel, all for owner Hamdan Al Maktoum.

Watch Nazeef edge Agincourt in the Duke of Cambridge

"It's testament to the owner," said Gosden. "He has many horses in training and a treble on the first day is a great achievement.

"Nazeef is very genuine and did nothing but improve last year. She deserves a little rest after winning the Listed Snowdrop Fillies' Stakes at Kempton earlier this month and then coming here. We won't rush her back but you'd love to see her have a go at a Group 1."

The four-year-old was introduced at 14-1 for the Group 1 Sussex Stakes but Gosden suggested the Falmouth Stakes was a possibility.

Motakhayyel strikes for Crowley

Motakhayyel finished powerfully to land the Buckingham Palace Handicap, the first race of Royal Ascot, for trainer Richard Hannon.

The four-year-old, sent off at 14-1, made his first start since July 2019 a winning one when finishing clear of 66-1 shot Jack's Point.

Motakhayyel raced up the stands' side rail under Crowley, who recorded his sixth success at the royal meeting and made the right choice between four Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned runners.

"I took him to Kempton three weeks ago and Jim couldn't stop smiling," said Hannon. "He got off him and said he would ride him in his next race wherever we went. We decided to come here without going anywhere first and it has made me look like a good trainer.

Watch Motakhayyel storm home to land the Buckingham Palace

On racing behind closed doors, Hannon added: "I watched the race with Andrew Balding and John Gosden. The people and colleagues we work with every day are here, so in that way it feels very similar.

"When you fancy a runner at Royal Ascot you try to bugger off in the opposite direction to everyone because when they get beat you want to kick a door. It's when they win that you try to find people."

Day One Reaction

Queen Anne Stakes

Aidan O'Brien, trainer of the winner Circus Maximus, said: "We're delighted. He's very tough and travels with a lot of speed. I think sometimes he does get underestimated but he's very solid. 

"He loves getting eyeballed and always toughs it out really well. He's comfortable at a mile and will probably stay at that distance.

"He's like a fighter. If he doesn't get his blood up then he doesn't perform. He can be quite lazy so he needs the fast tempo of a mile and the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood is a possibility for him."

Ribblesdale Stakes

Frankie Dettori, rider of the winner Frankly Darling, said: "She's got some lungs. We were burning plenty of petrol in the first half of the race as she raced keenly but I managed to slow her down a bit.

"She picked up and galloped out really well. She learned a lot today on her third start and hopefully it's all systems go for the Oaks."

King Edward VII Stakes

William Muir, trainer of Pyledriver, said: "He's always been a long-term prospect and he was weak as a kitten last year. He won first time out but lost his strength racing too often but he had a go at Newmarket on his final start. It was always about this season.

"I was quite confident he would run a massive race because he's really come to himself in the last few days. He started to spark. He's won really well there today and he can only get better. I'll monitor him and if he does well we'll go for the Derby."

King's Stand Stakes

Jim Crowley, rider of Battaash, said: "I had to hold him for two furlongs as he wanted to charge off. I knew I needed to get the fractions right as there's nothing quick enough to beat him. He's one of the best sprinters in recent years and is an absolute superstar. 

"He's done the three big races now with the Prix de l'Abbaye and the Nunthorpe. Hopefully there's more to come too. As soon as those gates opened today he was gone. Not having the crowd possibly helped him but he has matured through the years as well."

Ascot Stakes

Thore Hammer Hansen, rider of Coeur De Lion, said: "It's unbelievable to come here as a claimer and ride a winner. It's sad there's no crowds but I still got an unbelievable buzz. 

“There's so many top jockeys who haven't yet had a winner here so it's amazing. I won on him last year at Chester and he took me to some big meetings, including here when he was fifth. We were confident he'd run a big race but possibly only dreamed he'd win."

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I took him to Kempton three weeks ago and Jim couldn't stop smiling. He got off him and said he would ride him in his next race
E.W. Terms