06/22/2013 3:19PM

Royal Ascot: Lethal Force dominates Diamond Jubilee; Hardwicke winner dies after race

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Improving 4-year-old Lethal Force won the first Group 1 race of his career on the last day of the 2013 Royal Ascot meeting, dashing to a convincing victory in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on Saturday in England.

The meeting’s final card was marred by the death of 4-year-old Thomas Chippendale, who collapsed and died just after winning the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes. A heart attack was suspected in the colt’s sudden demise.

The $815,000 Diamond Jubilee had none of the buildup of last year’s edition, which featured the single non-Australian appearance in the career of star sprinter Black Caviar. And Lethal Force did not take long to rob Saturday’s race of whatever drama it packed. Breaking sharply under jockey Adam Kirby, Lethal Force sprinted clear of 17 rivals and never looked back, beating favored Society Rock by two lengths. Krypton Factor finished third, and Gordon Lord Byron fourth.

Over soft going in France, Gordon Lord Byron won last fall’s Group 1 Prix de la Foret, a race in which Lethal Force finished 10th. But the firm, quick ground this week at Ascot clearly suited Irish-bred Lethal Force, a Clive Cox-trained son of Dark Angel who won for just the third time in 14 starts. American shipper Havelock never got involved and finished 11th. Winning time for six furlongs was 1:13.66.

Even before Thomas Chippendale’s demise, the Hardwicke had turned messy, as pacesetting Ektihaam slipped on the turn, losing his balance and jockey Paul Hanagan, who crashed into the breakaway inner rail. Hanagan and his mount came out of the incident in decent shape, unlike unfortunate Thomas Chippendale. Jockey John Murtagh was returning on his winning mount when Thomas Chippendale, a 4-year-old son of Dansili trained by Jane Cecil, got rubber-legged and went down.

The Hardwicke darkened what otherwise was an enjoyable five-day meeting that began with the disappointing no-show by Animal Kingdom in the Queen Anne Stakes, which went to up-and-coming Declaration of War. Opening day was highlighted, though, by Dawn Approach, rebounding from his Epsom Derby flop to post a brave win in the St. James’s Palace Stakes. And on Thursday, the Queen’s excellent 4-year-old filly Estimate provided a memorable moment with a victory in the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup.