Royal Ascot notebook: International horses sit at 10 victories
Today’s Royal Ascot notes as supplied by Ascot Race Course:
This year has been a good Royal Ascot for the international runners, but it is not yet as successful as the record-breaking 2016.
Last year, the internationally-trained horses (including Ireland) won a total of 14 races, the best-ever score for participants from overseas.
This year we are on 10, and although there are chances for the internationals through today, it might prove a tough ask to beat last year’s score.
In the opening Chesham Stakes (2.30pm), a seven-furlong event for juveniles, there is just one declared runner from aboard, however that is no less than September, who hails from the all-conquering Aidan O’Brien team. She is by the leading Japanese sire Deep Impact and out of the talented filly Peeping Fawn, a three-time G1 winner. September has run once and won once and has leading claims.
The sole overseas representative in the Wolferton Handicap (3.05) is Allez Henri. He is owned by the Ascot Club, and is trained in France by the father and daughter team of Didier & Pauline Prod’Homme. According to the early betting, he has an outsider’s chance.
The Hardwicke Stakes (3.40pm) sees Idaho (O’Brien) take on The Queen’s Dartmouth in the one mile and four furlong Group Two, the pair vying for race favouritism. They have met once before in the Canadian International – Dartmouth finished second, a length and a half ahead of Idaho. It should be a closely run affair.
Jim Bolger’s Stellar Mass is also due to line up, but Sea The Stars colt looks as thought he has a bit to find on the form.
The day’s feature, the G1 Diamond Jubilee (4.20pm) includes four international runners, headlined by The Right Man, trained by Didier Guillemin in France and winner of the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai in March, and the nose runner-up in that race, Long On Value. He is trained in the US by Bill Mott and will prefer today’s faster ground than the slow surface he experienced in Dubai on World Cup night.
Finsbury Square runs for Francois Chappet, a trainer enjoying his best season to date after his G1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches win in May with Precieuse, who finished seventh of seven in the Coronation Stakes yesterday.
Finsbury Square finished second on his most recent start in the G2 Prix de Gros-Chene behind Muthmir at Chantilly, while his best performance to date came in the G1 Prix de l’Abbaye last October when fourth, beaten a length and a half behind Marsha (third this week in the King’s Stand Stakes).
Al Jazi, owned by Al Shaqab Racing, is trained by Francois Rohaut in France. She won a six-furlong Listed race last time, but this is her first experience of a G1.
G Force runs for Irish trainer Adrian Keatley in the six-furlong Wokingham Handicap (5.00pm). He has had one down-the-field start this season and put in a number of placed efforts through 2015 and 2016, but has not won a race since 2014.
The concluding two mile and five furlong Queen Alexandra Stakes (5.35pm) sees three international horses, all from Ireland, battle for final honours – Thomas Hobson (Willie Mullins), Motherland(Joseph O’Brien) and US Army Ranger (Aidan O’Brien).
Race favourite Thomas Hobson is aiming to double up this week after his victory in Tuesday’s Ascot Handicap, while US Army Ranger, second in the last year’s Derby, disappointed in Epsom’s G1 Coronation Cup after a second in Chester’s G2 Ormonde Stakes. He will find this level much more to his liking, if he gets the trip.
Motherland finished six lengths behind Order Of St George at Leopardstown in May over a mile and six furlongs.
DART IS DOUBLE TOP WITH PAPERS
The curtain comes down on another scintillating five days of racing at Royal Ascot today and the press, tabloid and broadsheet alike, have latched on to the distinct possibility of the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Dartmouth providing Her Majesty The Queen with a first Royal winner of the meeting. In the sport’s trade paper, the Racing Post, Steve Dennis sets the scene for today’s action by suggesting that victory for Dartmouth in the G2 Hardwicke Stakes, a race he won last year, would be “the perfect topper” to this year’s Royal Meeting. Marcus Townend, leading an impressive eight-page Daily Mailpullout, calls a Dartmouth success the “crowning glory” of Royal Ascot 2017, which will provide Britain’s longest serving monarch and Sir Michael Stoute, looking to become the most successful trainer at Royal Ascot with 76 wins, with “the last hurrah.”
Today’s feature race, the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (4.20pm) also grabs plenty of headlines with Rob Wright in TheTimes keen on the chances of Charlie Hills’ Magical Memory in the six-furlong sprint, whilst Chris Cook in The Guardian fancies Al Jazi to be the fourth French winner of the week. Conversely, in the Daily Mail, Sam Turner makes the case for Duke Of York winner Tasleet to “beat a path to glory” for William Haggas and Jim Crowley, a view shared by his colleague Marcus Townend and The i’s Anita Chambers. The Racing Post’s Pricewise reckons Dean Ivory’s Librisa Breeze to go well, but colleagues Paul Kealy and Gerald Delamere both like James Fanshawe’s The Tin Man. The Racing Post,along with other newspapers, also refers to jockey Andrea Atzeni having a pint of beer thrown on him by a racegoer as he made his way to the start of the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap. The same paper’s Stuart Riley samples the sights at Royal Ascot’s brand new enclosure, The Village, which is located on the in-field.
TheDaily Mirror also provides a 12-page pullout with their resident tipster Newsboy hoping the “Candy Man Can” deliver in the G1 feature courtesy of the Henry-Candy trained Limato, who heads the market for the five-furlong event and should have underfoot conditions to suit. Patrick Weaver in the Daily Star’s 16-page pullout believes Limato can “sparkle” in the 18-runner contest, a notion shared by The Scout in the Daily Express who also fancies Willie Mullins’ Thomas Hobson to gain his second victory of the week at Royal Ascot in the concluding Queen Alexandra Stakes, following his six-length Ascot Handicap success on Tuesday.
Reflecting on yesterday’s G1 double for Aidan O’Brien, courtesy of Caravaggio [Commonwealth Cup] and Winter [Coronation Stakes], Steve Jones leads The Sun’s excellent 12-page pullout by describing the colt’s performance as a “masterpiece” as he “brushed away the opposition”, a reference to the artistic flair of the 16th Century painter from which the name is based. Graham Clark writing in The i follows a similar theme, asserting that O’Brien’s charge “painted a glorious picture” in the Commonwealth Cup, with the race an unmitigated success since its 2015 inception. Marcus Townend in the Daily Mail, quotes Aidan O’Brien as saying Caravaggio would be happy “racing over three furlongs let alone six”, conveying the three-year-old son of Scat Daddy’s raw speed and talent. Townend also highlights that Caravvagio’s long-term target is the $10 million G1 Everest Stakes at Sydney’s Randwick Racecourse in October. Greg Wood in The Guardian views the victory as a “brush with greatness” and also quotes O’Brien as describing the stellar sprinter as the “fastest horse I have trained.”
David Yates in the Daily Mirror pays tribute to Carravaggio’s stable companion Winter, who confirmed her superiority in the three-year-old fillies’ mile division in the Coronation Stakes to follow up decisive victories in the English and Irish 1000 Guineas. Chris Goulding in the Daily Star’spullout also pays homage to the three-year-old daughter of Galileo who showed she is a “filly for all seasons” in the G1 mile contest, whilst Tony McFadden in the Racing Post suggested “Winter freezed out her rivals”. Marcus Armytage in The Daily Telegraph describes the filly as displaying “super efficiency rather than flamboyance in registering a G1 hat-trick. Armytage also refers to the “Franco-Hibernian collaboration” of French trainer Matthieu Palussiere and Irish owner Con Marnane who landed the opening race of day four, the Albany Stakes, courtesy of Different League.
With a summer of Test Cricket in England looming over the horizon, Trevor Bayliss’ side take on South Africa at Lords on Thursday, Mark Souster in The Times interviews fast bowler Stuart Broad, who along with paceman James Anderson and limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, joint-owns the Richard Hannon-trained Elysium Dream, who runs in the opening Chesham Stakes today. Broad describes the chance to own a runner at the Royal Meeting as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and the £32,000 purchase is a 25/1 shot for the seven-furlong event. Alan Tyers in TheDaily Telegraph examines the success of a “new era” in racing broadcasting as ITV today complete their first Royal Ascot production. The channel have received rave reviews for their coverage of this “sporting jewel” with Tyers in no doubt that ITV have “delivered for all of Royal Ascot’s tribes.”
Amidst the main pages of Britain’s tabloids, Page 23 of The Sun examines the plethora of famous faces which graced the Berkshire venue yesterday, including This Morning presenters Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, with page 5 of the Daily Star and page 9 of the Daily Express focusing on the Duchess of York’s “Royal Salute” to her former mother-in-law along with daughter Beatrice. The Guardian in its double-page spread pictures of the week, has a photo of Royal Ascot racegoers enthralled by a narrow finish. Finally, page 13 of the Daily Mirror boasts a picture of a beaming Her Majesty who “was determined to stay the pace” as her husband, the Duke Of Edinburgh, recovers at home following two nights in hospital. Hopefully, she will be all smiles in the winner’s enclosure once again today.
ITV RACING’S DEBUT BROADCAST FROM ROYAL ASCOT
ITV Racing are today broadcasting live from the fifth and final day of Royal Ascot, bringing to a conclusion the organisation’s debut broadcast from this flagship sporting event.
Alan Tyers reflects on the success of this week’s programming in Saturday’s The Daily Telegraph, noting that viewing figures for Gold Cup day (Thursday) peaked at 1.25 million with an average of 968,000, “way up from Channel 4 last year”.
Co-presenters Francesca Cumani and Ed Chamberlin have brought viewers the live action from all six races daily in the five-day Royal Meeting. Betting information comes from Matt Chapman, the fashion is covered by Mark Heyes and Charlotte Hawkins, with lively input from around the track from Oli Bell, host of The Opening Show, former jockeys Jason Weaver and Hayley Turner, plus Ireland’s Brian Gleeson, while commentator Richard Hoiles and race-caller Mark Johnson bring the action from all 30 races.
Also for the first time, US television’s NBC Sports Network is presenting daily live coverage from the Berkshire track, broadcasting from 8.30am (local time Eastern) daily for a total of 22.5 hours across the five days.
The BBC lost the rights to televise Royal Ascot in 2012 and Channel 4 took over the following year. But all six races are live on BBC 5 live, with Horse Racing producer Gary Flintoff tweeting of his “dream team” Caroline Barker and John Hunt, who are broadcasting from the racecourse.