So the Royal meeting has come to an end and oh what a week we were treated to. There were International runners galore, a 50th Royal Ascot winner for Ryan Moore and Sir Michael Stoute coming to the fore.
It was an incredible week for Sir Michael Stoute, as he became the most successful trainer in the history of Royal Ascot when Poet’s Word won the featured Prince of Wales’s Stakes where we also had one of the disappointments of the week with a lacklustre performance from Cracksman. In a week to remember, Crystal Ocean gave Stoute his fourth winner of the week in the Hardwicke Stakes.
He wasn’t the only record breaker of the week as the equine highlight of the week was Alpha Centauri’s scintillating victory in the Coronation Stakes. Jessica Harrington’s Irish 1000 Guineas winner was prominent throughout and sprinted clear of her rivals for an impressive six-length victory in a new track record.
It wasn’t only equine brilliance that was displayed last week, we saw two weighing room greats notch up memorable victories. Ryan Moore recorded a landmark 50th winner at Royal Ascot when partnering Hunting Horn in the Group 3 Hampton Court, while Frankie Dettori landed his 60th Royal Ascot win when Stradivarius crossed the line in front in the Ascot Gold Cup.
One of the standout performances of the week came from the very lightly raced Without Parole, after two runaway novice victories and a snug listed victory John Gosden’s Frankel colt was a smooth winner of the St James’s Palace Stakes. The sky seems the limit for this colt and he could just be this season’s superstar.
Wesley Ward was once again on the scoresheet at Royal Ascot when his Shang Shang Shang clung on for victory in the Norfolk Stakes. Ward who was recording his second win in the race and 10th at the Royal meeting. The American really does have the Midas touch when it comes to landing these two-year-old races.
Possibly one of the most heart-warming performances came in the finale when the enigmatic Pallasator won the Queen Alexandra Stakes. Pallasator has been rejuvenated since joining Gordon Elliott who himself was having his second Royal winner following Commissioned previous victory. The imposing son of Motivator showed his usual wayward tendencies by hanging once hitting the front but under a cool Jamie Spencer, he prevailed by over a length.
Obviously, it wasn’t just highs all week, there were some disappointments, Cracksman looked very lethargic when finishing second behind Poet’s Word in the Price Of Wales’s Stakes. Afterwards, Frankie said:
“Usually when he turns for home the turbo kicks in, but today he was very one-paced”.
Cracksman needs to focus his attention on racing if he is to reach anywhere near the heights of last season with John Gosden commenting:
“He’s a clever horse, and before the race, he was welcoming all the fillies from the Duke of Cambridge as they were walking back to the stables. I think we just need to concentrate his mind”.
The other notable equine disappointment was Harry Angel’s performance in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes which meant the fifth defeat for Clive Cox’s colt at Ascot. After getting worked up in the stalls the Kodiac colt trailed in a second last behind Merchant Navy.
It transpired afterwards that Harry Angel hurt his foot while coming out of the stalls and the stewards reported him to be lame post-race.
Everybody will agree that it was also disappointing that there was now royal winner during the week. There was a mini gamble on “The Queens” Seniority in the Royal Hunt Cup but unfortunately, the William Haggas gelding could only finish eight.
Five To Follow
- Without Parole
There were many sceptics about Without Parole’s prohibitive starting price in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes myself included. He was three from three prior to the Group 1 contest but he had only won a listed race which was well short on the form front, with the major reason for his short starting price being his potential.
John Gosden’s son of Frankel fully delivered on this potential to silence the critic’s in resounding fashion with a half-length victory over Gustav Klimt. This supremely bred colt seems to have the world at his feet and is simply a must-see for every racing enthusiast.
2. Settle For Bay
David Marnane’s son of Rio De La Plata was arguably the most impressive handicap winner of the week when quickening clear to land the Royal Hunt Cup. Having been the subject of a small ante-post gamble, Settle For Bay was an on-course drifter following the Queen’s Seniority sneaking into the race.
Billy Lee settled his mount in the rear and made steady progress to the 2f marker, where in reality he already looked the winner. Lee hit the front at the furlong marker and quickened away from what looked like a competitive handicap.
This was Settle For Bay’s fifth win from his last six runs and I highly doubt he has finished improving. I believe he may go for one more handicap and then you’ll see him competing at Group level.
This regally bred son of Oasis Dream went off the shortest-priced handicap favourite of the week when leaving the stalls as the 2/1 fav in the Wokingham. To be fair the price was probably justifiable even though he came up short on the day.
Coming into the race Dreamfield had been unbeaten in all three racecourse forays including a course and distance victory in early May. In the Wokingham itself, James Doyle made most of the running on red-hot favourite but entering the final furlong he began to hang left and Bacchus came to chin him, much to the delight of the bookies who faced multimillion pay-outs.
This was still an excellent run form such an experienced horse against hardened group performers and I fully expect Dreamfield to win at Group level before the season has finished.
- Land Force
The Aidan O’Brien trained Land Force was one of the most experienced two-year-old runners last week but that being said that he is definitely one to follow. He’s only emerged triumphant on two of his four career starts but he ran a huge race in the Norfolk behind the American raider Shang Shang Shang.
Land Force was caught on the wrong side as he led his group until the 2f marker and then drifted to the right inside the final furlong. This son of No Nay Never burnt a lot of energy to get across to the leading and I would consider him to be an unlucky loser.
Aidan always gets the best from his two-year-olds and I see this colt thriving on racing similar to his stablemate and last season’s Champion two year old U S Navy Flag.
- Expert Eye
The son of Acclamation was one the talking horse of last season, following a maiden victory in debut at Newbury. He was then a runaway winner of the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood but since then he had been very disappointing.
Sir Michael Stoute’s charge seemed to appreciate the drop in class when winning the Group 3 Jersey Stakes in impressive fashion and with that win under his belt I’d expect this once 2000 Guineas favourite to progress back up to Group 1 level this season.