Royal Ascot 2023

Vauban far too good in Copper Horse Handicap

Ryan Moore completed an opening day treble in the concluding Copper Horse Handicap, steering evens favourite Vauban to a stunning seven-and-a-half-length success.

Susannah Ricci’s multiple Grade One-winning hurdler looked potentially well-handicapped on the level off 101 and proved the point in no uncertain terms, powering away in the straight having been allowed his own way in front.

Runner-up Absurde made it a one-two for Willie Mullins, while Cemhaan outran his 66/1 odds in third for George Baker.

Mullins said: “Ryan had to go to Plan B, and it worked very well. He was very brave – he felt that there wasn’t enough pace, so he said ‘I’m going to make the running here’ and he did and stacked them up behind him. Then he just loosened it out for the last six furlongs and you could see him winding it up, winding it up. That’s the measure of what Ryan is able to do – he’s able to change his mind. When he saw what was happening in the first furlong, he said, right, Plan B, and got it right.”

Moore said: “I didn’t expect to be in front, but I got him out [of the stalls] okay and nobody else wanted to be in front. They told me he stays very well and I felt I had to keep building the pace. He got into a good rhythm and stretched all the way to the line.

“He’s a very smart horse. He won a Listed race on the Flat in France and he was in a handicap here, and he’s done what he’s done jumping. I’d say today was a bit of a shock to him making the running, but he got the job done very well.”

Rich Ricci said: “I know Willie thinks the world of this horse. We did not quite have it with him this hurdling season – it is hard to come back as a five-year-old – but he is a lovely horse. I was wondering if Willie was working back from the Melbourne Cup rather than the Champion Hurdle!

“We have unfinished business in Melbourne with a second, third and a sixth. Max Dynamite was second. It was a great experience and I would love to go back to try and win it.”

6.10pm Copper Horse Handicap

1 Vauban (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 5-9-08 Ryan Moore EvsF

2 Absurde (H O S Syndicate) Willie Mullins IRE 5-9-08 Frankie Dettori 5/1

3 Cemhaan (PJL Racing) George Baker 6-9-11 Pat Cosgrave 66/1

4 Chillingham (J Carrick & S Taylor) Ed Bethell 4-9-04 Callum Rodriguez 11/1

16 ran 

Willie Mullins – 9th Royal Ascot winner

Ryan Moore – 76th Royal Ascot winner

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