Circus Maximus (10/1) became the first horse since Dawn Approach (2013) to run in the 12-furlong Investec Derby before winning the £538,750 G1 St James’s Palace Stakes over a mile.
Supplemented at a cost of £45,000, Circus Maximus, trained by Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore, held on gamely in the closing stages of the mile contest to score by a neck, denying the fast-finishing King Of Comedy (4/1), trained by John Gosden, in second.
Too Darn Hot, the 2/1 favourite and also trained by Gosden, was a further three-quarters of a length back in third.
Circus Maximus was a creditable sixth in the 12-furlong Investec Derby at Epsom Downs on June 1, but the drop back to a mile and the addition of blinkers proved the right combination this afternoon.
O’Brien was registering his 67th winner at the Royal Meeting and a 30.62/1 double today following Arizona’s win in the G2 Coventry Stakes.
This was also the master of Ballydoyle’s eighth win in the G1 St James’s Palace Stakes and first since Gleneagles in 2015.
O’Brien said: “Maria (Niarchos-Gouaze), Derrick Smith, John Magnier and Michael Tabor [owners] all decided at 11.45am at the six-day stage that they were going to supplement Circus Maximus for this race and we just ran with it.
“It is hard to believe, but we are just privileged to be a small part of it.
“It is a big challenge for the horse to drop back down in trip. That’s why we put the blinkers on him as he didn’t have much time to learn how to race back at a mile, so that helped him.
“We were worried about the pace of the race for Circus Maximus back over a mile having raced over a mile and a half, so we are delighted really.”