Little Big Bear lands Windsor Castle gamble for O’Brien and Moore
It took 13 races but 10-time leading Royal Ascot trainer Aidan O’Brien finally got his week up and running as Little Big Bear landed an almighty plunge in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes.
Sent off the 6/5 favourite under Ryan Moore, Little Big Bear was under pressure a fair way out in the five-furlong contest for juveniles. However, the son of No Nay Never kept responding on the far side of the pack and kicked in the afterburners in the closing stages to pick up Rocket Rodney (14/1) and win by a neck. There was a length and three-quarters back to third-placed Eddie’s Boy (40/1), with Chateau (15/2) filling fourth spot.
Little Big Bear’s victory means that O’Brien has now trained a Royal Ascot winner for 19 consecutive years. Moore, also enjoying his first success of the week, has ridden a winner at each of the last 15 Royal Ascots.
O’Brien said: “I am delighted. Ryan gave Little Big Bear a great ride. He was drawn a little away from the pace, but we were delighted with him.
“He just got beat the first time and won well the second time. Ryan rode him work in the week and was happy with him. He should get further in the future too and is in the Phoenix Stakes.
“He is a big horse. It is obviously a very fast race and horses need to know a lot in it and be very educated. He had only had the two runs, so we were a bit worried about that, but we’re delighted really.
“It is very tough to win races at Royal Ascot. It’s so difficult I can’t tell you and when it happens, we are thrilled. It is the pinnacle of high summer racing. Everyone wants to be here and win here.”
Moore said: “It was a good performance from a horse who is still learning. Little Big Bear was out on the wing and the horses in the middle were ahead. He got a bit lonely, but he has plenty of ability.
“He is a horse who showed a lot of speed. He will get better. He is a big horse and I thought he did that comfortably. I know he didn’t win by far, but there was more in the locker. I am looking forward to him.”
5.35pm Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed)
1 Little Big Bear (D Smith, S Magnier, M Tabor, Westerberg) Aidan O’Brien IRE 2-9-05 Ryan Moore 6/5F
2 Rocket Rodney (Victorious Racing Limited) George Scott 2-9-05 Daniel Muscutt 14/1
3 Eddie’s Boy (Middleham Park Racing Clv & Partner) Archie Watson 2-9-05 Hollie Doyle 40/1
Aidan O’Brien – 77th Royal Ascot winner
Ryan Moore – 67th Royal Ascot winner