Le Roi turned-the-tables on Prince Of Penzance to record a tough win in the 2014 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Flemington this afternoon.
Le Roi finished a fighting third in the Listed Cranbourne Cup (2025m) on October 12 and was beaten in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup (2500m) by Prince Of Penzance on October 25, but took advantage of an outstanding ride from Damien Oliver to record his first win at Group level since he took out the 2012 edition of the Summer Cup.
Oliver positioned Le Roi in a lovely position just behind the leaders in the early stages of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and he responded well when asked for an extra effort, but Prince Of Penzance looked like he had the race won when he found clear running at the 200 metre mark.
Le Roi refused to give up in the final 150 metres and Oliver said after the race that he was thrilled with the toughness shown by the Areion entire in the final stages of the race, while he was quick to pay credit to the training effort of Tony McEvoy.
“I have a beautiful trail just behind the leaders and he moved up really nicely coming to the turn,” Oliver said.
“He was brave in the end; the track was probably a little bit firmer than he likes, but he did a great job.
“He (Tony McEvoy) places his horses really well and when you are on one of Tony’s you know that you are in with a great chance.
“It is nice to have a ride for him.”
McEvoy has been happy with each of Le Roi’s race starts during his spring preparation to date and he was clearly delighted to see the five-year-old entire return to winning form in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Like Oliver, McEvoy praised the toughness that was shown by Le Roi in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and he indicated that the imported galloper could join stablemate and third placegetter Big Memory on a Melbourne Cup path in 2015.
“His five runs this prep have been fantastic and he has just kept building and building,” McEvoy said.
“I was worried about how firm the ground was getting, but he is a very good galloper.
“He is a pretty good looking horse and it makes my job a bit easier because he is a cracking individual and he has the best temperament you could ask for.
“He is a real pleasure to deal with.
“My other horse Big Memory also never gave in, he fought very hard and it was a very courageous victory.”
The 2013 edition of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes was won by Precedence, who went on to finish sixth in the Melbourne Cup, while Makybe Diva in 2002 is the last Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner to go on and win the Melbourne Cup a year later.