Idaho follows brother Highland Reel as winner at Royal Ascot
Bob Kieckhefer wraps up closing day of Royal Ascot, coverage presented by Fasig-Tipton, home of the Sept. 10 Turf Showcase yearling sale:
Idaho, September and The Tin Man were the heroes of Saturday’s final day of Royal Ascot 2017 and their victories are likely to set up some classic confrontations through the rest of the year’s racing.
Idaho, a full brother to multiple international Group 1 winner Highland Reel, especially gives the Irish owners from Coolmore a range of options. The same group owns September, whose Ascot victory moves her to the top rank of 2-year-old fillies.
For American fans, the day’s disappointment was Long On Value, who finished 12th in the Diamond Jubilee as trainer Bill Mott’s first-ever runner at the Royal meeting.
It’s over but it will long be remembered. Here’s how the final day went:
The Hardwicke Stakes
Idaho reeled in the leaders, including Her Majesty’s best hope on the week, and kicked clear to a 1/2-length victory in the Hardwicke Stakes (G2). Barsanti and Chemical Charge both showed late foot to finish second and third in the 1 1/2-mile event.
Jockey Seamie Heffernan kept Idaho just behind the pace and in the clear through the run down to Swinley Bottom and up the hill in to the final turn. As the field straightened, it was the Queen’s runner and last year’s winner, Dartmouth, hitting the front under Ryan Moore. But Dartmouth was done by the final furlong, fading to get home fourth, and Idaho was in full flight.
“I had a lovely draw and tactically, the race worked out as I thought it would,” Heffernan said. “I wanted to follow Ryan and my lad’s a good stayer, so I had a nice toe into the race. We thought he would run well.”
O’Brien, who cemented his eighth Royal Ascot training crown, said, “We are delighted. He is by Galileo and they never know when to stop improving and trying. Seamie gave him a peach of a ride.”
The win was a bit of encouragement for the Coolmore owners as Idaho has had a rough go in his last few starts. Then a 3-year-old, he unseated Heffernan in the Ladbrokes St Leger (G1) in September at Doncaster, then finished fifth in the Patison Canadian International (G1) at Woodbine. In his first start this season, he was sixth in the Investec Coronation Cup (G1) at Epsom — a race won by Highland Reel.
O’Brien’s horses were late arriving at Epsom for the Coronation Cup day races because of travel problems. “He was very upset when we got there and never had a chance to calm down,” O’Brien said.
Idaho and Highland Reel, who won the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes this Royal Ascot meet, are by Galileo out of the Australian-bred mare Hvegar. With Highland Reel potentially headed for Australia in the fall, Idaho gives Coolmore and O’Brien a doppleganger who could contest other late-season targets such as the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf — won last year by Highland Reel.
The Diamond Jubilee
The Tin Man shot through along the inside rail to win the Diamond Jubilee (G1) in a tight three-way finish that prompted a stewards’ inquiry.
At the finish, it was The Tin Man headed for victory and shifting outside into the favorite, Limato. At the same time, Tasleet was coming in from the outside and it appeared Moore, aboard Limato, had nowhere to go in the final strides.
After a brief interview of the jockeys, shown live on television, the stewards let the result stand.
The Tin Man, a 5-year-old Equiano gelding, was eighth in last year’s Diamond Jubilee but came back to Ascot in the fall to win the Qipco British Champions Sprint (G1). He finished fifth in his initial start of 2017 in a Group 2 event run over soft ground at York.
Trainer James Fanshawe said he reckons The Tin Man atop the ranks of older European sprinters now, adding, “I don’t know about the 3-year-olds.”
He could have a chance to find out in the July Cup (G1) at Newmarket on Bastille Day weekend as both The Tin Man and Caravaggio, the undefeated 3-year-old winner of the Commonwealth Cup (G1) just a day earlier, both hold entries for that race.
“I’ll see how he comes out of this race,” Fanshawe said.
“I am a very relieved man,” he added.” I am extremely grateful for The Tin Man for giving a fantastic performance. This horse doesn’t tell you a thing back home. He just has a buck and a kick and does none of his homework.
“Tom gave him the most beautiful ride today. The Tin Man is a star horse, and we are lucky to have him.”
The American hope in the Diamond Jubilee, Long On Value, was unable to reproduce the run that found him a good second in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) at Meydan on Dubai World Cup night for trainer Bill Mott.
With Joel Rosario in for the ride, as he was in Dubai, Long On Value, a 6-year-old son of Value Plus, started from gate 14 and was not able to get over to the more favorable going on the outside of the course. He finished 12th.
The Diamond Jubilee, the final Group 1 of the Royal meeting, is a leg of the Global Sprint Challenge. The Challenge offers a $1 million bonus to a horse winning three of its races in three different jurisdictions.
The Chesham Stakes
A year ago, Churchill won the Chesham Stakes in his second career start and he went on to sweep the English and Irish Guineas. This time around, O’Brien sent out a filly, September, to contest the Chesham. She won, running down a quick and persistent Nyaleti to score by 2 1/4 lengths, and quickly became a favorite for next year’s 1000 Guineas.
“She’s not a very big filly, but she thinks she’s big — a big personality,” O’Brien said. “She could be anything.”
Moore agreed. “As she does farther, she’ll be better.”
September, a blowout winner in her career bow at Leopardstown, now is 2-for-2. She is by the Japanese sire Deep Impact, an important son of Sunday Silence, and out of the Danehill mare Peeping Fawn.
Nyaleti held on for second, edging Godolphin’s Masar. Nyaleti, trained by Mark Johnson, jumped out to a big early lead and kept going, surrendering only when Moore had September in full flight. Nyaleti, a daughter of the Claiborne Farm stallion Arch, who died last year at age 21, narrowly held second over Masar, a Godolphin colt by New Approach.
The Wolferton Handicap
Snoano, a 25-1 long shot, came from the north of England and the middle of the pack to win the Wolferton Handicap by a neck over Majeed. Kidmenever was third as the 1 1/4-mile handicap was decided among a half dozen who still had a chance in the final 100 yards.
Snoano, a 5-year-old Nayaf gelding, finished in 2:04.94 over ground officially listed as good to firm. “He actually likes ground a bit softer,” said winning jockey David Allan.
Snoano’s last three wins came at Pontrefact, Ayr and York. Last June 11 found him at York, winning the Queen Mother’s Cup, with a daughter of the prominent Easterby family aboard, in a “lady amateurs riding” event — a far cry from Royal Ascot. Tim Easterby trains the gelding, formerly owned by Sheikh Hamdan.
The Wokingham Handicap
Twenty-seven runners faced the starter in the Wokingham, a heritage handicap which dates back to the early 1800s. The herd split into two groups and the far-side bunch was narrowly best with Out Do first and Steady Pace second at the wire.
Out Do, an 8-year-old Exceed and Excel gelding, went off at odds of 25-1. Daniel Tudhope rode for trainer David O’Meara.
The Queen Alexandra
The final race of the meeting, the Queen Alexandra Stakes at 2 miles, 5 1/2 furlongs, went to Oriental Fox, winner two years ago and fourth last year. The 9-year-old Lomitas gelding outfinished Thomas Hobson, who won the 2 1/2-miles Ascot Handicap on Tuesday’s opening day of the Royal Meeting and is being pointed for the Melbourne Cup (G1) this fall in Australia.
U S Army Ranger, sent the marathon distance for the first time by O’Brien, was up for a courageous third in the Queen Alexandra — a satisfying finish for the trainer, Coolmore and Moore.