Rhododendron lands Lockinge thrillerSunday 20 May 2018
The decision-making skills of Aidan O'Brien are often what sets him apart from the rest and switching Rhododendron back to 1600 metres has proved a winning tactic in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.
Having finished fourth on her return in the Prix Ganay over an extended 10 furlongs (2000m) last month, last year's 1000 Guineas and Oaks runner-up claimed the third Group One success of her career.
For a moment it looked as though Lightning Spear was going to go one better than in 2017 and break his duck at the top level, but it was not to be, with the 100-30 favourite holding on by a short head to give O'Brien his second victory in the race after Hawk Wing in 2003.
"She probably got there little bit early and she was left there a bit lonely and left there a bit by herself, but Ryan (Moore) gave her a brilliant ride.," O'Brien said.
"She is brave and stuck her head out and toughed it out. I was delighted really.
"It was a worry coming back to a mile. We thought the last day in France she travelled well through the race, John's (Gosden) horse (Cracksman) won and won well, but we were always going a step slower than we would have liked through the race.
"One day in France she bled the worst you've ever seen in the Oaks (Prix de Diane). I've never seen anything bleed so bad.
""She got very faint in herself and it is very rare you see a horse come back from that."
O'Brien said her Royal Ascot options were the Queen Anne Stakes (1600m) or Prince Of Wales's Stakes (2000m).