ROYAL ASCOT 2020: Gosden finds key to sealing Stradivarius hat-trick

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Trainer John Gosden and jockey James Doyle in the winners enclosure after Lord North's victory in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot
Trainer John Gosden and jockey James Doyle in the winners enclosure after Lord North's victory in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot

John Gosden will keep wearing his lucky Panama as he seeks Royal Ascot history, writes James Toney.

Gosden gave nothing more than a shrug of satisfaction as he sketched another showpiece race on his resume on Wednesday.

Just 24 hours after bringing up his half century of winners at the royal meeting, the trainer had ice pumping through his veins as Lord North claimed the Group One Prince of Wales's Stakes with a turbo-charged turn of foot.

Now he can start to plot and plan for Stradivarius's eagerly-awaited bid for a historic third Gold Cup on Thursday - though his hope to keep the rain away may fall victim to the predicted weather forecast.

"I'm keeping wearing my hat, it's obviously lucky," he said. "I’m keeping this on in the hope that it will keep the rain away.

"Stradivarius does not want soft ground, if we get a lot of rain it dents that wonderful turn of foot which is his great weapon. I hope it remains relatively dry, if it doesn’t, it opens it up and makes things a little tougher."

Wisdom suggested that Aidan O'Brien's Japan would begin his well-plotted campaign for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe with a second career win at Royal Ascot.

Entering the final furlong of the Prince of Wales's Stakes, the seven-strong field were strung evenly across the track, only for James Doyle to hit the accelerator on his charge to deliver Gosden his 51st Royal Ascot winner.

"I’d like to ride him again, put it that way," said Doyle.

"He settled beautifully out the back, took me into the race nicely and showed a good turn of pace when I asked him. It certainly wasn’t a fluke, and he can continue this and be quite a strong force in these type of races."

Gosden was initially toying with running his charge in one of the listed races at Ascot, before a late change of heart meant he threw him into the big one.

It was a gamble that paid off with rich £148,000 dividends and the win now opens up a range of options for the rest of the season, including a potential clash with stablemate and racing superstar Enable in the Coral-Eclipse next month.

“I would say give him a week, ten days and see how we are. He has had two very quick races," added Gosden. "We’ll freshen him up and then make decisions but this does make our decision much more exciting."

Elsewhere, Jim Crowley cemented his grip on the top jockey standings with a fourth win of the week, to add to his three successes on Tuesday.

Crowley rode the perfect tactical race on Owen Burrows's Hukum in the King George V Stakes, delivering a first win at the meeting for the Lambourn-based trainer.

“As a kid and when I was battling around Fontwell and Plumpton 20 years ago, I would never have dreamed I would be here training a Royal Ascot winner for someone like Sheikh Hamdan," said Burrows, a one-time assistant to Ascot's most successful ever trainer Sir Michael Stoute.

However, Crowley wasn't getting carried away with suggestions the horse could now go to the Derby at Epsom.

“He is certainly a horse that stays well, but it is whether he has enough experience to go around Epsom," he said.

"He lugged a bit to the left there and whether he’d handle the cambers of the track is another question.

"It's great to get another winner - touch wood I hope it keeps going. I have got some ammunition, which always helps. We had a good team coming here, so I would have been disappointed if we didn’t have a winner. I have got some nice rides coming up – a few more bullets to fire.”

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