Last year’s G2 Norfolk Stakes hero Perfect Power showed he will be a sprinter to be reckoned with for the rest of the season with a dominant performance in the G1 Commonwealth Cup.
A dual Group 1-winning juvenile over six furlongs, Richard Fahey’s stable star was stretched out over a mile in the 2,000 Guineas, but it was an experiment that didn’t come off as he finished seventh.
Given a patient ride today by Christophe Soumillon, the Ardad colt (7/2F) made smooth headway towards the far side and hit the front inside the final furlong to score by a comfortable length and a quarter.
Flaming Rib (14/1) took second, coming home strongly towards the stands’ side, with 40/1 chance Flotus half a length further back in third.
Soumillon, enjoying his third Royal Ascot winner, said: “It’s great. I think the track was a bit fast for him and, with that draw, I didn’t have any option but to sit back. When I looked around at the two-furlong marker, I saw I had seven lengths to make up. I thought that was a bit far, but in the race before I saw Ryan Moore took the same line and the track was looking good there. I’m sure Perfect Power can be much better on softer ground, so it’s good news.
“That is the greatness of a top trainer. We tried to give him more stamina for the 2,000 Guineas. Now we know he is a top sprinter. He is a great horse. He has such a big heart and when I came by, I wasn’t sure if he would quicken again, and then the last 150 yards he showed another turn of foot.
“It is very special to win here. That is why you have to be very humble when you come over here as it is the toughest place to win races. When you have the chance to ride a great horse for great owners and a great trainer, you have to put it all together.
“Perfect Power was the best two-year-old I have ridden in terms of speed and, now at three, he is still giving a great performance. I hope this is just his first Group 1 of the season and I’m sure that if he went to Deauville for the Prix Maurice de Gheest, that would be his race. Then maybe at the end of the season we go seven furlongs, but the trainer knows more than me.”
An emotional Fahey said: “He was further back than I wanted, but Christophe Soumillon is the man. When you have a great belief in a horse and he doesn’t let you down – it’s fantastic.
“When you’re a small trainer from the north of England, you need Group 1 horses. He has won three Group 1 races now, and it will be four soon. He is a special horse.
“We lost nothing by having a go at the Guineas. In hindsight we are all geniuses, and he is definitely happier sprinting.
“He is a dude of a horse. He just lays down, eats, trains, and looks at all of us and just carries on with his life.
“You go to work him, switch him on and off, and it is incredible. We switched him on for the last two gallops and it was just sensational. I felt that whatever beat him today would be a special horse.
“This guy when we were training to stay a bit further, we were cantering him from the bottom of the gallop. He has not gone further than five and a half furlongs since then. He just seemed happier in himself and his work was better.
“It is not very often you are confident going into an Ascot race, but last year I thought he was a certainty said to Sheikh Rashid, ‘Whatever beats this guy, you buy him he will be a special horse!’ Luckily nothing beat him and I have got a special horse!
“We have loads of options. As well as the July Cup, we can go seven furlongs or we can go to the Prix Maurice de Gheest. I will speak to the Sheikh. He is very involved, and I’d like to thank him because I was a little bit worried about the ground as he was a little bit jarred after Newmarket. He just agreed with everything that we discussed and gave me the confidence to have a go today.”
Hugo Palmer said of Flaming Rib: “I was nervous about the ground, although James [Doyle] said he would improve again on better ground. Flaming Rib did a piece of work last week, and he has always been a horse who has worked well, but this was pretty wow stuff. He beat a horse rated considerably higher than him and there is just a chance he has improved again. I am very proud of what he has done.
“I think watching it back now we only had Flotus to beat. Our lad knuckled down and beat her. The cameraman thought he had won and then panned out to Perfect Power, who is very good. He is now a triple Group 1 winner and we have to beat him one of these days I guess.”
Part-owner Michael Owen added: “Flaming Rib is such a tough horse. He beat everything that was around him and then all of a sudden one appears on the far side that he might not have seen. He has run with so much credit.”
Flotus’ co-trainer Ed Crisford said: “I was delighted with that – obviously she bounced back to her Cheveley Park form. She has been a bit unlucky this year, with the stalls at Newmarket, and ran a great race at Haydock, but to see her run like that was fantastic. I am so pleased.
“We will see what there is. I don’t think she even has a Listed penalty now, because she won before August, so we’ve got all the options and we’ll see where she is. We’ll pick and choose for her.”
Royal Ascot News Release
Perfect Power after winning the Commonwealth Cup (credit: Megan Ridgwell)