took command two furlongs from home and charged to an impressive three-quarter length victory in the $387,500 St. James's Palace Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot June 19.
The race was the third of three straight group I races that highlighted the opening day of the five-day Royal Ascot meet.
A full field of 16 went to post in the St. James's Palace, with Power
, one of a pair of Aidan O'Brien runners, going off as the 2-1 favorite. Most Improved, a 3-year-old colt by Lawman
, was overlooked by the betting public and let go at 9-1, even though trainer Brian Meehan had been saying all spring that his colt was one of the best in his barn.
At the start it was Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) winner Wrote
that shot to the front to set the pace under Seamie Heffernan. He was allowed to open up a slight lead on the field as the rest of the runners jostled for position early. Foxtrot Romeo
sat in second, with Juddmonte Farms' The Nile
on the outside in third.
Kieren Fallon had Most Improved in good position off the early leaders in fourth, with Joseph O'Brien settling Power toward the rear of the field early on.
Seamie Heffernan and Wrote continued to lead the field at a strong gallop throughout the early stages of the race. As the field rounded the far turn, Fallon drove Most Improved to the lead, as Wrote began to fade. The Nile, who was beginning to make his bid under William Buick, suddenly took a bad step and broke down, hampering several runners in the field as Buick was trying to pull him up.
Most Improved was in the clear on the front end, and continued to gallop on strongly to the wire for the victory. Hermival got up in the final strides to snatch second by a head from Gregorian
, with Born To Sea
passing tired runners to take fourth. Power, who was hampered by The Nile's accident, was never a factor and finished twelfth.
The final time for the eight furlongs was 1:40.14.
A delighted Brian Meehan told reporters after the race, "He's a lovely, big horse with lots of scope. He's just been a little bit unlucky this spring."
"He had a little bit of bone pain going through to his joints," Meehan continued. "It's pretty minor and we got good advice on how to manage it, but he's fine now. He ran in the French Derby where nothing went right and Kieren was pretty upset after the race when he got off."
Kieren Fallon added, "(In France) I got caught up mid-race and then he lost both his front shoes, I had to look after him after that. Brian brought him here and he's proved how good he could have been if we had him right for the (Two Thousand) Guineas, but that wasn't to be. This has made up for it today."
Most Improved was bred in Ireland by Skymarc Farm and Ecurie Des Monceaux. The bay colt is owned by Iraj Parvizi, who also owned 2010 Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner, Dangerous Midge.
Most Improved is from the first crop of two-time French group I winner Lawman and is the second foal out of Tonnara, by Linamix.