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Kingdom Remains a Class Act Despite Ascot Flop

Despite the best-laid plans and meticulous attention to detail in stabling his star horse for three months in the UK prior to his attempt to win the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes on the opening day of Royal Ascot 2013, it all went horribly wrong for the Graham Motion-trained Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom out for a stroll around Upper Lambourn
© @AnitaMotion

Animal Kingdom

Although he trains in the US, Motion is British-born and had long harboured dreams of winning at the most prestigious race meeting in the world. In Animal Kingdom, the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner and brilliant winner of the Dubai World Cup at Meydan at the end of March, he appeared to have the perfect horse for the job.

The decision to send the horse directly to England after Dubai had seemed inspired as the five-year-old put together a series of outstanding training gallops on Newmarket Heath, but on the big day the horse, who was sent off the 5/6 favourite in places where you can bet on the horses, ran dismally.

Even though he had 10lbs and more in hand of his rivals in the mile contest on the straight course, the US star looked like a horse who had left his racing head at home, playing up in the paddock and seeming to be all at sea in the new surroundings of Britain’s most prestigious racing festival.

Pulling hard in the early stages of the contest – something he had never done before – John Velasquez’s mount was beaten before the final quarter mile, in much the same fashion that Dawn Approach ‘bombed out’ in the Investec Derby at Epsom earlier in the month.

Victory went the way of Aidan O’Brien’s impressive Declaration of War (20/1), but Animal Kingdom is a much better horse than he showed at the royal meeting and should be remembered for his great wins in Dubai and at Kentucky. As the Queen Mother famously said after her Devon Loch’s stunning collapse near the finish line in the 1956 Grand National, “that’s racing”.


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