06/14/2004 11:00PM

Refuse to Bend a Royal victor


Refuse to Bend returned to form as a 12-1 longshot when he beat back the challenges of three top-rated fillies to win the Group 1, $455,000 Queen Anne Stakes on opening day at Royal Ascot Tuesday.

The winner of last year's 2000 Guineas when he was trained by Dermot Weld, Refuse to Bend had flopped in the Dubai Duty Free and the Lockinge Stakes since being bought by Godolphin Racing. His winning margin over the filly Soviet Song was just a neck, and the Breeders' Cup Mile winner, Six Perfections, failed for the second time in a row, coming home sixth as the 5-2 favorite.

Nebraska Tornado, who led from the quarter pole to the eighth pole under Gary Stevens, faded to fourth, beaten two lengths. Refuse to Bend covered the straight mile in 1:39.14 on a course labeled good to firm that was producing fast times all day.

The Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on Aug. 15 could be next for the 4-year-old Refuse to Bend. For Godolphin, it was the sixth Queen Anne victory in the last nine years.

Azamour claimed a scintillating running of the Group 1, $435,000 St. James's Palace Stakes as he turned the tables on the 3-year-old milers who had beaten him in both the 2000 Guineas and the Irish 2000 Guineas.

Trained by John Oxx for the Aga Khan, Azamour proved a neck better than the Stevens-ridden Diamond Green, the French 2000 Guineas runner-up, with Antonius Pius, the horse who would have won the French Guineas but for slamming into the rail, three-quarters of a length farther back in third.

Haafhd, the 3-2 favorite who had been first to Azamour's third in the 2000 Guineas, led late but faded to fourth, while the Irish 2000 Guineas winner, Bachelor Duke, could manage only seventh.

The second choice at 9-2, Azamour, ridden by Michael Kinane, was clocked in 1:39.02, only .52 of a second off Russian Rhythm's track record. Oxx said he could stretch out to 1 1/4 miles in the future, with the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Sept. 11 a likely objective.

The Tatling, bought out of a Catterick claiming race by trainer Milton Bradley for $24,000 two years ago, won the Group 2 King's Stand Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths over Hong Kong invader Cape of Good Hope. The Tatling, sent off at 8-1, had placed in a pair of Group 1 races last year. The Tatling covered the five furlongs in 1:00.16.

Lydgate, an Eoin Harty-trained American invader, was never a factor, finishing 10th of 19, beaten 4 1/4 lengths with Frankie Dettori aboard.