06/13/2005 11:00PM

Shamardal doubles up

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Edward Whitaker/Racing Post
Shamardal (foreground, right) wins the St. James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on Tuesday.

Shamardal won his second major Group 1 race in nine days with a shockingly easy victory in the St. James's Palace Stakes on Tuesday's opening day of Royal Ascot at York, England, while French invaders Valixir and Chineur scored minor upsets in two other big races.

Now unbeaten in all six of his turf starts, Shamardal was duplicating the 2000 triumph of his sire, Giant's Causeway, in the St. James's Palace, a $406,000 race for 3-year-old colts. Remarkably, Shamardal's front-running three-length win over runner-up Ad Valorem as the 7-4 favorite came a little more than a week after he had led throughout to win the 1 5/16-mile French Derby at Chantilly on June 5. His back-to-back victories are reminiscent of the week in 1982 when Conquistador Cielo won both the Metropolitan Handicap and the Belmont Stakes in the space of five days.

With Godolphin withdrawing its Irish 2000 Guineas winner, Dubawi, from the St. James's Palace because of the good-to-firm ground, Shamardal was ridden by Australian Kerrin McEvoy, who bumped Kevin Darley off the winner. Godolphin's second-string rider, McEvoy is riding first call for Godolphin this week in place of Frankie Dettori, who will miss the entire five-day Royal Meeting due to a suspension.

McEvoy had Shamardal cruising along with a six-length lead approaching the eighth pole before easing him to the line ahead of Ad Valorem, the Aidan O'Brien-trained winner of the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes. Ad Valorem was making his first start since Oct. 1.

Another O'Brien colt, Irish 2000 Guineas runner-up Oratorio, was third. Shamardal's time for the one-turn, left-handed mile was 1:37.18.

"Shamardal could go in the Eclipse Stakes," said Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, the winning owner. "He is a tough horse, and I think he can beat Motivator there."

Motivator, the Epsom Derby winner, is skipping the Irish Derby to face older horses in the Eclipse, a 1 1/4-mile race at Sandown Park on July 2.

Dubawi, meanwhile, has been penciled in for the one-mile Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on Aug. 14, where he might very well run into the undefeated French Oaks winner, Divine Proportions.

In the Group 1, $450,000 Queen Anne Stakes, Valixir, off at 4-1, defeated the 4-5 favorite Rakti by 1 1/2 lengths, Valixir's time for the mile was 1:36.24, or 0.54 second faster than Shamardal's St. James's Palace time.

One of the Aga Khan's pickups from his purchase of the Lagardere racing empire this winter, Valixir is an Andre Fabre-trained son of Trempolino who was coming off a two-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile Prix d'Ispahan on May 22. The Gary Tanaka-owned Rakti, who had impressively won the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes last out, was a rank pacesetter who was beaten at the three-sixteenths pole.

The Mikel Delzangles-trained Chineur made it four in a row with a rare French victory over British sprinters in the Group 2, $252,000 King's Stand Stakes.

Coming off a win in the Group 3 Prix de Saint-Georges, Chineur defeated Boogie Street by 1 3/4 lengths, running the straight five furlongs in 57.55 seconds under Christophe Lemaire, who was fresh off a win aboard Divine Proportions in Sunday's French Oaks.

Gold Cup featured Thursday

Thursday at York, the 2 1/2-mile Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup - the Royal Meeting's traditional centerpiece - features a clash among Godolphin's defending champ Papineau, ace French stayer Westerner, and Vinnie Roe, the Dermot Weld-trained international campaigner. Westerner, second to Papineau in this race last year, is seeking his sixth straight win and might have an edge this time around. He has prepped for this with a pair of two-mile group-race scores at Longchamp for trainer Elie Lellouche.

* In the 1 1/2-mile Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes, Playful Act is expected to run for the first time since winning the Group 1 Fillies Mile at Ascot last September.