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Sir Michael's third winner of 2018 Royal Ascot comes in the form of Eqtidaar

Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's Shadwell operation landed its second Group 1 Commonwealth Cup (1200m) since the race's inception in 2015, when Eqtidaar won the latest edition for trainer Sir Michael Stoute at Royal Ascot on Friday.

Eqtidaar flies up late to win the Commonwealth Cup, photo Liesl King

Eqtidaar followed in the hoofprints of Shadwell's Muhaarar, who stepped up from his Royal Ascot victory in 2015 to become champion sprinter, unbeaten in a further three Group One contests, and now regarded as a very promising young sire at the Sheikh's Shadwell Stud in Norfolk. His first crop will appear as two-year-olds in 2019.

A home-bred, by the stallion Invincible Spirit, Eqtidaar has some way to go to match Muhaarar's feats, but he is on his way following victory over his 21 rivals in today's sprint. A 12/1 shot, ridden by Jim Crowley, he beat Sands Of Mali (15/2) and Emblazoned (12/1) by half a length and one length.

Sir Michael was not shocked by the victory, although Eqtidaar had not won on his three previous starts, following a winning debut as a two-year-old.

The trainer said: "We have always liked this horse. I thought things just didn't go quite right for him the first time he ran here in the Pavilion Stakes. Then at Newbury last time, he was on the wrong side of the track and at halfway was too far out of his ground.

"He worked very well the other weekend under Jim Crowley, so we were hopeful. 

"He just showed how talented [a sprinter] he is. We have had some good ones like Marwell, Ajdal, and Green Desert. He is progressing nicely."

Eqtidaar was given a quote of 16/1 for the G1 Darley July Cup, but Sir Michael said he would have to discuss options with the Sheikh before making a plan for the colt.

Crowley returns on Eqtidaar, photo Liesl King

Jim Crowley registered his first victory at Royal Ascot 2018 and his fourth success at the Royal Meeting overall.

Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, recording his third winner at Royal Ascot 2018 and 78th success overall, the three-year-old son of Invincible Spirit held on gamely in the closing stages despite lugging towards the stands' side rail, to fend off the late challenge of the Richard Fahey-trainedSands Of Mali (15/2) by a half-length.

Crowley, who has ridden three seconds this week, said: "Eqtidaar was one of my best rides of the week and it's great he could pull it off. He is trained by a master and just keeps on improving.

"Things did not pan out last time as we were on the wrong part of the track, whereas today we got a lovely tow into the race. It went like clockwork really.

"I knew his potential. He had been working unbelievably well, and you could make excuses for his last two starts. We knew coming here today that he would have a great chance."

Jim Crowley is retained jockey to Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, who owned the 2015 G1 Commonwealth Cup winner Muharrar. Trained by Charlie Hills, Muharrar went on to win the G1 Darley July Cup, G1 Prix Maurice De Gheest and the G1 QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes, becoming the European Champion Sprinter for 2015.

Paul Hanagan, rider of the fast-finishing G1 Commonwealth Stakes half-length runner-up Sands Of Mali (15/2), who was gaining his first G1-placed form, said: "They went a really nice place my side, which suited me, he was able to drop his head and he was relaxed and he came home.

"The ground might just have been a shade too quick for my lad, maybe he was just feeling it and not letting himself down completely, but to finish second, beaten just half a length in a Group 1, he's run a great race."

Of his draw in 22 on the stands' side, Hanagan did not feel that it made any difference to the result.

"I was always happy because if you get the pace on your side, then there are no excuses," he said. "I walked the track and felt that there was no difference when I walked it.

"There is not any excuses I can say. I have been beaten by a very good horse, but I think it was the ground a little bit."

Sir Michael Stoute, Jim Crowley and Sheikh Hamdan pose with Eqtidaar, photo Liesl King

Third-placed Emblazoned (12/1) finished two and a quarter lengths third to Sands Of Mali in the G2 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock last time out in May. He improved on that today to finish a length behind the same horse.

Frankie Dettori, rider of Emblazoned, said: "My horse has run a superb race, he's run a great race, he's improved and I was closer to the Fahey horse than at Haydock. He is a nice horse, it was a good third."

Emblazoned's trainer John Gosden said: "I am very pleased with that. It was not the plan to be so forward, but the horse took himself there. The form is rock solid."

Overseas visitor Gidu, trained by Todd Pletcher in New York State, came home a creditable sixth.

Pletcher was not in attendance, but jockey John Velazquez, who rode the grey Frankel colt, commented: "I thought he went and ran well.

"It was a good effort. It was a tough race.

"I love to be here! You love to win. Winning is the most important bit but as long as they run and try hard, you can't beat that. Especially here."

Eqtidaar, photo Liesl King

3.40pm £500,000 Commonwealth Cup (Group 1) 
(British Champions Series) 6f (3YO)

1 (3) Eqtidaar (IRE) Sir Michael Stoute 9st 3lb Jim Crowley 12/1
2 (22) Sands of Mali (FR) Richard Fahey 9st 3lb Paul Hanagan 15/2
3 (11) Emblazoned (IRE) John Gosden 9st 3lb Frankie Dettori 12/1
4 (10) Stone of Destiny Andrew Balding 9st 3lb Oisin Murphy 50/1
5 (1) Hey Jonesy (IRE) Kevin Ryan 9st 3lb Kevin Stott 40/1
6 (17) Gidu (IRE) Todd Pletcher, USA 9st 3lb John R. Velazquez 40/1
7 (8) Heartache Clive Cox 9st 0lb Adam Kirby 28/1
8 (18) Fighting Irish (IRE) Harry Dunlop 9st 3lb Ioritz Mendizabal 100/1
9 (16) Invincible Army (IRE) James Tate 9st 3lb James Doyle 9/2
10 (19) Unfortunately (IRE) (Visor) Karl Burke 9st 3lb Tony Piccone 50/1
11 (21) Roussel (IRE) Charlie Appleby 9st 3lb William Buick 25/1
12 (2) Equilateral Charles Hills 9st 3lb James McDonald 6/1
13 (7) Cardsharp Mark Johnston 9st 3lb Silvestre De Sousa 25/1
14 (13) Speak In Colours (Tongue Strap) Joseph Patrick O'Brien, Ireland 9st 3lb Donnacha O'Brien 25/1
15 (20) Fleet Review (USA) Aidan O'Brien, Ireland 9st 3lb Wayne Lordan 16/1
16 (15) Sioux Nation (USA) (Tongue Strap) Aidan O'Brien, Ireland 9st 3lb Ryan Moore 11/4 Fav
17 (5) Actress (IRE) Aidan O'Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb Seamie Heffernan 40/1 
18 (4) Laugh A Minute Roger Varian 9st 3lb Andrea Atzeni 33/1
19 (6) Main Desire (IRE) Michael Bell 9st 0lb Daniel Tudhope 20/1
20 (12) Enjazaat Owen Burrows 9st 3lb Dane O'Neill 80/1
21 (9) Now You're Talking (IRE) Joseph Patrick O'Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb Jamie Spencer 50/1
22 (14) Abel Handy (IRE) Declan Carroll 9st 3lb Tom Eaves 100/1

Winner owned & bred by Hamdan Al Maktoum 

22 ran
Time: 1m 12.12s
Distances: ½, 1, hd, hd, ½, sh, hd, 1¼, ½, hd, 1¾, nk, nk, 1¼, hd, ¾, 1¼, ½, ¾, ½, ¾ 
Tote Win: £17.40 Places: £4.80; £3.00; £3.90 Exacta: £163.20 
Breeding: 3 b c Invincible Spirit (IRE) - Madany (IRE) (Acclamation)
Breeder: Shadwell Estate Company Limited

78th Royal Ascot win for trainer Sir Michael Stoute - the most successful trainer of all time at Royal Ascot

4th Royal Ascot win for jockey Jim Crowley 

                               
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