Royal Ascot 2023

River Tiber proves the real deal in Coventry Stakes

River Tiber (11/8F) extended his unbeaten record to three with a determined performance in the G2 Coventry Stakes for two-year-olds.  

The Wootton Bassett colt found plenty for pressure in the closing stages, holding off the fast-finishing Army Ethos by a neck. Bucanero Fuerte was three-quarters of a length further back in third.

River Tiber’s narrow victory was a record tenth Coventry Stakes win for trainer Aidan O’Brien, his first since Arizona in 2019, and fourth for jockey Ryan Moore.

O’Brien said: “We brought River Tiber back to five last time. We got a little bit of a shock, as he came off the bridle over five and lacked a little bit of sharpness. We knew then he was going to get six and seven comfortably.

“When we started working him, he always looked very good. You need the best horse to win the Coventry. He was never disappointing in any of his work and the stronger the work got, the stronger he became. And at the end, the last piece of work he was doing too well, so that was my worry. He has matured a lot, put on a lot of weight, and he just finds it very easy. You could see him through the first part of the race today, he was going very easily.”

He added: “You never expect to have any winner here, that’s the truth. It’s a relief and I’m so delighted for everyone because everyone places so much on this week through the whole year.”

Moore said: “It was tricky to start with, with horses getting upset, and River Tiber didn’t settle like he usually would in the stalls. We travelled lovely, although I probably put him to sleep too much, and then had to wake him up to get past Frankie [Dettori on Givemethebeatboys]. He did that and then the other horse Army Ethos attacked in the middle of the track. I think we had a bit more to give and we’ve always loved him. He’s got plenty of speed, but I would have thought he’s going to be a Dewhurst horse.”

Of River Tiber’s physique, Moore said: “We got to the start for a 22-runner race and he stood over all of them. He’s different class.”

Last year’s winning trainer Archie Watson said of Army Ethos: “We’ve almost won two Coventrys in a row, which for a yard like us would have been massive.

“I couldn’t be happier with the horse – he’s always had so much class from the moment Oliver [St Lawrence, bloodstock agent] bought him at the Somerville Yearling Sale. The plan was always to go to Ayr and then come straight here.

“Hollie [Doyle] felt Ryan got a better tow into the race and she had to do it all herself when they started falling away on our side of the track. For a horse on his second run it was a massive effort and I’m very proud of him.”

Doyle added: “Army Ethos is a very nice horse – a big shell still with a lot more to come. We probably could have done with being on the other side, realistically, to have something to battle with like the winner has had, but he’s done nothing wrong and ran straight as a die.”

3.05pm Coventry Stakes (Group 2)

1 River Tiber (Tabor, Smith, Magnier, Westerberg, Brant) Aidan O’Brien IRE 2-9-03 Ryan Moore 11/8F

2 Army Ethos (Victorious Racing) & Fawzi Nass) Archie Watson 2-9-03 Hollie Doyle 20/1

3 Bucanero Fuerte (Amo Racing Limited) Adrian Murray IRE 2-9-03 16/1

20 ran

Aidan O’Brien – 82nd Royal Ascot winner

Ryan Moore – 74th Royal Ascot winner

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