Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore got off the mark for Royal Ascot 2022 as Little Big Bear justified his cramped odds in the Windsor Castle Stakes.
By their own lofty standards it has been a quiet couple of days for the all-powerful Ballydoyle team, but this son of American sprinter No Nay Never – narrowly beaten on his Curragh debut before bolting up at Naas – was all the rage as the 6-5 market leader.
While he was produced with a big challenge on the far side of the track, it was not entirely plain sailing, with Rocket Rodney and Eddie’s Boy both bang there racing inside the final half-furlong.
Rocket Rodney eventually emerged as the biggest threat, but Little Big Bear refused to bend and won the argument by a neck.
“Delighted with that. We were a little concerned about the wide draw, as he was away by himself and he is still a baby. He battled on well,” said O’Brien.
“He just got beat the first time and won well the second time. Ryan rode him work in the week and was happy with him. He should get further in the future, too. We’re delighted with him.
“He is in the Phoenix Stakes.”
O’Brien earlier saw his son Joseph record his first winner at the meeting when State Of Rest made all to land the feature Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
He added: “It’s an unbelievable day for Joseph to have his winner earlier.
“He told me what he was going to do before the race and I didn’t think it was the right thing. From experience I learned not to say anything and so delighted I was for them.”