06/17/2008 12:00AM

Henrythenavigator hits mile triple

Mark Cranham
Henrythenavigator (left), ridden by Johnny Murtagh, grabs a three-quarter-length victory over Raven's Pass in Tuesday's St. James's Palace at Royal Ascot.

Henrythenavigator set sail at Royal Ascot on Tuesday, setting a course record as he won his third straight Group 1 mile in the $485,000 St. James's Palace Stakes.

Henrythenavigator, a son of Kingmambo, was following up on a pair of 2000 Guineas triumphs at Newmarket and the Curragh. Already deemed by his trainer, Aiden O'Brien, as "the best miler I've ever trained," Henrythenavigator and his rider, Johnny Murtagh, were content to lag at the back of the eight-runner field as stablemate Minneapolis cut out some sharp early fractions.

The French 2000 Guineas winner, Falco, took command going easily at the quarter pole as Murtagh maneuvered "Henry" into position. When Murtagh pushed the button, the response was immediate. Henrythenavigator quickened to the lead approaching the eighth pole, going on to a three-quarter-length victory over Raven's Pass, with Twice Over 2 1/2 lengths farther back in third.

An odds-on favorite, the winner covered the one-turn, largely uphill mile on good to firm ground 1:38.70, a record since the Ascot course was slightly reconfigured in 2006. Henrythenavigator now holds two Ascot records, as he set the mark of 1:12.46 for six furlongs winning the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at the Royal Meeting last year.

O'Brien's high praise means that the trainer rates Henrythenavigator more highly than either Rock of Gibraltar, the last horse to pull of the English Guineas/Irish Guineas/St. James's Palace triple, or Giant's Causeway, his seven-time Group 1 winner.

O'Brien had begun his Royal Ascot with a victory in the $485,000 Queen Anne Stakes, a Group 1 mile for older horses taken in gutty fashion by the ex-Australian-trained Haradasun. Once again O'Brien employed a rabbit, this time Honoured Guest, to lay down a fast pace, but Haradasun, outpaced approaching the furlong pole, had to dig deep to corral the French filly Darjina. She looked like the winner for a brief moment until Haradasun, a 5-year-old son of Fusaichi Pegasus who was a two-time Group 1 winner Down Under, found something extra to win by a head at 5-1.

Darjina finished three-quarters of a length in front of third-place Finsceal Beo. The time for the straight mile was 1:38.98.

Equiano made history in the $485,000 King's Stand Stakes when he became the first horse trained in Spain to win a Group 1 race at Royal Ascot. Ridden by Olivier Peslier, the 22-1 shot led throughout on the stand-side rail and bravely held off the late challenge of the 2006 King's Stand winner, Takeover Target, by a half-length. The 9-5 choice, Fleeting Spirit, was a neck back in third. The time for the five furlongs was 59.34 seconds.

In the six-furlong Group 2 Coventry Stakes for 2-year-olds, Art Connoisseur came from 18th and last at the three-sixteenths pole to win going away by 2 1/4 lengths. Art Connoisseur, 8-1, was clocked in 1:13.59.