Rock of Gibraltar Strong in St. James's Palace Stakes

Rock of Gibraltar Strong in St. James's  Palace Stakes
Photo: AP Photo/PA, Tom Hevezi
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, right, part owner of Rock Of Gibraltar, left, congratulates the horse and jockey, Mick Kinane, center, after the St James' Palace Stakes.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien notched his first victory of this year's Royal Ascot meeting when favored Rock of Gibraltar scored a 1 3/4-length victory in the group I St. James Palace Stakes. It was the third consecutive St. James's Place Stakes win for O'Brien who won with Black Minnaloushe in 2001 and Giant's Causeway in 2000.

The St. James's victory was the fifth consecutive group I win for the son of Danehill, who races for Alex Ferguson and Mrs. John Magnier. O'Brien bred Rock of Gibraltar in partnership with his wife and father-in-law Joe Crowley.

Another O'Brien trainee, Landseer, winner of the French 2,000 Guineas last time out for the partnership of Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor, was second, with Aramram four lengths back in third. The field of nine 3-year-old colts covered the one-mile distance in 1:40.91.

Coolmore's John Magnier said Rock of Gibraltar could now go up or down in distance. "He might drop back to six furlongs for races like the July Cup or try some of the big mile and a quarter races," Magnier said. "It is not really up to me, though, and it will all depend on what Aidan O'Brien) feels at the time and how the horses are going. Obviously, the Sussex Stakes will be in our thinking as well, but he could certainly try different distances."

Rock of Gibraltar had previously won the Grand Criterium, Dewhurst Stakes, Sagitta 2,000 Guineas, and the Irish Entenmanns 2,000 Guineas.

Attendance on the opening day of Royal Ascot came to a new record for the Tuesday, 51,055, up 8.8% on last year's crowd of 46,924. The previous record for the opening day was 50,609 in 2000.

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