Ascot, England: Secret State maintained his progressive profile as he notched up a third straight win with a resolute display in the King George V Stakes on day three of Royal Ascot on Thursday.
Stepping up to a mile and a half for the first time, the half-brother to Line Of Duty was always towards the head of affairs, settling in third on the inside rail as Franz Strauss set steady fractions in front.
Secret State stayed on to dispute the running under William Buick two furlongs out and established a narrow advantage shortly after when Franz Strauss started to fade. The Dubawi colt gamely found more in front and withstood the late charge of Deauville Legend for a head verdict in the heritage handicap.
Trainer Charlie Appleby said: “We had a good draw with Secret State and were keen to get a nice pitch. It is one of those races that can be hard work if you are in the second half of the field, so our plan was always to be in the first half.
“The pace was steady enough, so you knew you had to be in the right position when they started quickening, and he got first run on them.
“He is a horse going the right way. We could be bold enough to say he might work up into something like the G2 Great Voltigeur, stepping up from handicaps to Pattern company. His profile won’t look out of place making that move and I wouldn’t like to say where our ceiling is yet.
“It is an exciting race to win as well. My first Royal Ascot winner was a King George V and it is a race I always like to target.”
William Buick said: “I didn’t expect to be where I was in the race, but Secret State jumped so well and, from that start, you’re not going to take him back.
“In a race like this over a competitive trip, they either stay or they don’t. I was quite close to the pace, but Frankie Dettori on Franz Strauss got a breather into us and slowed the pace down. When my horse got a spin on the rail, I took it. He was in front half a furlong too soon, but he battled really well.
“Once he could feel them coming, he went again. His brother Line Of Duty was the same. They are a great family and this was a great plan by Charlie. It is early days for him yet, but he has done nothing but improve and could make up into a smart type.”
Kyprios held on to win the Gold Cup as the Dettori-ridden Stradivarius came up short in his attempt to land the prestigious race for a record-tying fourth time.
Not a strong pace
Kyprios, the 13-8 favourite, was neck-and-neck with Mojo Star for the final two furlongs before pulling narrowly ahead and staying on to win by a half-length under jockey Ryan Moore and for trainer Aidan O’Brien, who won the Gold Cup for the eighth time.
Stradivarius was looking to equal Yeats as a four-time winner but had a tough run, finding himself initially blocked off then needing to switch to go very wide in a bid to reel in Kyprios and Mojo Star. He finished third, a further half-length back, in his last race at Royal Ascot.
“I had an inside draw and I had to be careful with what I was doing,” Dettori said. “The pace wasn’t that strong and in the end there was nowhere to go, so I had to take him on the outside, which cost me a little bit.
“He has been a good hero, he has been magnificent for racing and a brilliant horse. He just got beat today, he tried and went down fighting. He has been a star. You have to pass on the baton to the younger ones.”