Most Improved ran out a ready winner of the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The 9-1 chance suffered an early-season setback that ruled him out of the Craven Stakes and subsequently the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. He then had no luck in running in the French Derby at Chantilly, but he suffered no such trouble here under Kieren Fallon. 

Always travelling strongly, the Brian Meehan-trained three-year-old ran to the lead in the home straight and kept tight to the rail to deny Hermival and Gregorian by three-quarters of a length and a head.

There was drama rounding the home turn as the well-fancied The Nile went badly wrong and fell back quickly through the field, causing interference to a number of those in behind.

But Most Improved stayed out of trouble and never looked in serious danger of being caught all the way up the long home straight.

Born To Sea came home well down the outside of the field to claim fourth, but Irish 2,000 Guineas winner and favourite Power never threatened.

Meehan said: "He was doing really good work (in the spring), he matured physically and today showed we were right.

"He's a lovely, big horse with lots of scope. He's just been a little bit unlucky this spring.

"He had a little bit of bone pain going through to his joints. It's pretty minor and we got good advice on how to manage it, but he's fine now.

"He ran in the French Derby where nothing went right and Kieren was pretty upset after the race when he got off.

"We thought about the Tercentenary, but the owner rang me and said 'why don't we stick to the original plan and stay at a mile, he's in the race' and it made sense."

Hermival's owner, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani, was represented by his racing manager Alexandra Newman, who said: "He would have preferred a bit more cut. The ground was wrong for him at the Curragh also.

"He's getting better. At Newmarket it was only his third race and he was a bit immature. We'll stick to mile for now but he will get further in time."

John Ferguson, bloodstock advisor to Princess Haya of Jordan, owner of Gregorian, said: "We're absolutely thrilled with him."

John Oxx added of Born To Sea: "He stayed on well like he did at the Curragh but not well enough.

"He's a good horse but not as good as his brother. We'll probably step him up to 10 furlongs now and there's a possibility of running in the Meld Stakes over nine furlongs next month."