06/16/2010 12:00AM

Goldikova turns back Paco Boy at Ascot

Edward Whitaker/Racing Post
Goldikova (right) holds off Paco Boy in Tuesday's Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Goldikova got Royal Ascot off to a glittering start on Tuesday as she held off the gallant Paco Boy by a neck in the Group 1, $370,000 Queen Anne Stakes. It was the ninth stakes victory at the highest level for Goldikova, who has her sights set firmly on a third Breeders' Cup Mile title in November.

An hour later, Canford Cliffs proved himself Europe's best 3-year-old miler with a convincing victory in the Group 1, $370,000 St. James's Palace Stakes, defeating his Richard Hannon-trained stablemate Dick Turpin by a length. American hopeful Noble's Promise finished fifth, just three lengths behind the winner.

The 11-8 Goldikova was given a picture perfect ride by Olivier Peslier, who had her sitting just behind the pace of Calming Influence in third. Goldikova, trained by Freddie Head, led at the quarter pole and was soon clear, looking for an instant as if she would draw off for a huge victory. But the 11-4 Paco Boy, who failed to settle early on near the back of the 10-runner field and had to wait for room under Richard Hughes, finally found the gap and came charging late. With three taps of the whip, however, Goldikova was able to maintain her edge, Peslier knowing exactly where both Paco Boy and the finish line were.

It was another 3 1/4 lengths back to Dream Eater in third, an indication of the superiority of the first two. Breeders' Cup Mile flop Zacinto was fourth with Dalghar fifth and Rip Van Winkle, in his first outing since the Breeders' Cup Classic, sixth, beaten 7 3/4 lengths after having pressed the early pace. The time for the straight mile on good ground was 1:37.74, .53 of a second off the 2007 course record.

"When she goes to the front, she's never beaten" Head said of the 5-year-old Goldikova, who has now beaten males in six Group or Grade 1 races. Head will keep Goldikova lightly raced between now and her Nov. 6 date at Churchill Downs. A repeat win in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on Aug. 15 is her next assignment, followed by an attempt to make amends for her loss last year in the seven-furlong, Group 1 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp, scheduled for Arc Day, Oct. 3.

* While Hannon might have been a little upset at Paco Boy's narrow loss, he had reason to cheer at the performance of both Canford Cliffs and Dick Turpin in the St. James's Palace. Unhurried throughout as Steinbeck set a leisurely pace, the 11-4 co-favorite Canford Cliffs rallied under Richard Hughes, catching Dick Turpin 70 yards from the line as the luckless Hearts of Fire stayed on for third, three-quarters of a length behind the runner-up. Ridden by Kieren Fallon, the Ken McPeek-trained Noble's Promise was a well placed fourth at 12-1 early, made a briefly menacing move at the head of the stretch, but drifted left thereafter in as good a performance that could have been expected form the Kentucky Derby fifth-place finisher. Makfi, the English 2000 Guineas winner and co-favorite, was a one-paced seventh, beaten 4 1/2 lengths. The time for the one-turn, right-handed mile was 1:39.55.

Third behind Makfi and Canford Cliffs in the English Guineas, Canford Cliffs improved to win the Irish 2000 by a handy three lengths. Hannon mentioned both the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood and the Jacques le Marois as possible stops for both Canford Cliffs and Dick Turpin, who has now finished second in three consecutive Group 1 miles.

* Hannon was jumping for joy a half-hour later as he watched as Strong Suit overcome a ton of trouble to catch Elzaam in the Group 2, $147,000 Coventry Stakes, a race the trainer had won last year with Canford Cliffs. An Arkansas-bred son of Rahy, Strong Suit and Hughes were four lengths behind at the eighth pole, yet still managed to get up on the line. The 15-8 favorite, Strong Suit covered the straight 6 six furlongs in 1:14.29 and is Britain's leading 2-year-old colt.

* Lightning failed to strike twice for Wesley Ward in his attempt to win a second successive Windsor Castle Stakes, a five-furlong listed race he had won last year with Strike the Tiger. This time around, Ward's 9-4 favorite Metropolitan Man tracked the early pace but was soon being ridden along by Elvis Trujillo. Outpaced from midway, he drifted left and right in fading to ninth, 11 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Marine Commando.

* Equiano led throughout to win the Group 1, $443,000 King's Stand Stakes at 9-2, repeating his victory of two years ago when trained in Spain by Maurizio Delcher-Sanchez. This time it was Barry Hills who got the credit, the Newmarket-based Englishmen having taken over from the Spaniard after Equiano went badly off form last year. The 5-year-old Equiano outsprinted Markab by a length while getting the five furlongs in 59 seconds flat under a canny ride from Michael Hills. Borderlescott was third with the best of the Australian raiders, Nicconi, fourth. The 5-2 favorite Kingsgate Native was sixth, 3 3/4 lengths behind the winner.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the breeding of Strong Suit. He is an Arkansas-bred, not a Kentucky-bred.