Alcohol Free Pissed Up in Rain Sodden Royal Ascot day 4
They said it would and it did, the rain came to Ascot for day four of the Royal meeting with vengeance. The rain was so persistent that there was some doubt that the races would even be run today. However, very late on, the stewards decided to let the races go ahead. For the first three days, the going was given as good to firm, but after 19mm rain fell overnight with another 8 mm during the morning, the going changed dramatically to heavy. Two Group 1 races were the feature today plus a brace of other Group races.
The first of the Group 1 races was the Commonwealth Cup for 3 year olds only over six furlongs. There were 21 declared to run, but the weather saw 5 of these withdrawn as the ground was now unsuitable for them. Of the 16 left in the race, American raider Wesley Ward’s Campanelle ridden by Frankie Dettori looked the most promising. She won the Queen Mary Stakes at last year’s meeting at 2 and then went to Deauville in France to take her first Group 1 in the Prix Morny over 6 furlongs in bog like conditions. However, she has not run since November last year when she was soundly beaten in the Juvenile fillies Breeders Cup, and so far at this meeting, Wesley Ward has not been too near the winner’s enclosure. Another raiding trainer, this time from France – Francois Rohaut – was running Suesa, a twice group winner this term at Chantilly. She came to the race unbeaten in four runs. If ratings are anything to go by, there is a huge difference between the two, Campanelle on 120 and Suesa on 95! A further one on many lists was Dragon Symbol from Archie Watson’s yard. This is the colt’s sixth run this term, and he has won four of his first five and was recently second in a Group 2 at Haydock. The final one we looked at before the off was Jumby – trained by Eve Johnson-Houghton. This colt won last time out at Newmarket. With three fancied runners withdrawn before the start – this was anyone’s race? They broke to an even break and jockeys came up the middle with the Wesley Ward runner well in the lead.
Campanelle was joined by Oisin Murphy riding Dragon Symbol. However Dragon Symbol trained by Archie Watson did get a very slight lead but pushed Frankie and Campanelle over towards the far rail. Immediately, following the finish, a steward’s enquiry was called and as this was such a close call on who won, and although Oisin with Dragon Symbol crossed the line first, there was definite interference. After a long enquiry, the stewards decided to reverse the result and promoted Campanelle to win the race with Dragon Symbol was second. The third horse home by some margin was Measure of Magic ridden by Ben Coen trained by Jonnie Murtagh. Wesley Ward headed back to the States having had 12 winners now from the Royal meeting since 2008.
The second Group 1 was the Coronation Stakes – over a mile for 3 year old fillies only. A race which often sees the recent European 1000 Guineas winners clash head to head, This time both Mother Earth (Newmarket 1000 guinea winner) and Empress Josephine (The Irish equivalent) lined up – both trained by Aidan O’Brien. The third of note here was Pretty Gorgeous trained by son Joseph. However, this filly, after making a great impression as a two year old has been disappointing, although she was second in the Irish Guineas. Another of some interest was from another raiding trainer – P. Schiergen from Germany with Novemba who won the German 1000 Guineas in soft ground as actually did the two Irish Guinea horses. So apart from Mother Earth, who won on decent ground, the other ex-guineas horses would all go well on the ground. They broke to an even break and all stayed over under the trees on the round course for the mile race. The German guineas winner Novemba took the lead from virtually the start with Mother Earth and Pretty Gorgeous not far behind. As they entered the straight, Pretty Gorgeous rather fell away as she has done in her other races this term.
Mother Earth and Novemba were vying for the top spot when Alcohol Free, the third in the Newmarket 1000 Guineas came to the front with Oisin Murphy for Andrew Balding and was never to be challenged. Snow Lantern also came through to come second (trained by Richard Hannon) with Mother Earth (Aidan O’Brien) was third. No problems in this race for Oisin – the filly came strong but true and went through the ground far better than anyone thought. In reflection, this was probably the best race of the week. A number of quality bred fillies and classic winners. The winner is by No Nay Never out of a mare who won a listed sprint race at two by Hard Spun. This was another race won by an owner breeder Jeff Smith owner of the Littleton Stud. , There have been far more of these this year than is normal.
The Group 2 for the day was The King Edward Stakes otherwise known as the Ascot Derby. This is a race for 3 year old colts only over 1 ½ miles. I personally love this race because in 2006, my wife and I bred the winner – Papal Bull – who was trained by Sir Michael Stoute. We were there and it is a day we will certainly never forget. The elation when one breeds a winning horse at Royal Ascot is simply indescribable! Anyway, back to the 2021 fixture. There were only six runners going to post, none of which had thus far been that special. As in 2006, some of the Epsom Derby winners came onto Ascot to try their luck again, this year there were not so many as the Derby was only ten days ago; therefore the recovery time for the horses in that race was too short.
The one worth a mention was David Menuisier’s Bellocio as he would be the one who would absolutely relish the ground as he operates only in ‘bog’ like conditions. This ended up as a tactical race with the jockeys moving around the course to try to find the best ground. Bellocio took the lead and led at a sensible pace but he ran out of petrol 1 ½ furlongs out. This allowed the winner Alenquer to come through and take over and win for William Haggas ridden by Tom Marquand with former top event rider, now trainer Sir Mark Todd’s Tasmin Bay come in second. Sir Mark’s horse is a huge animal and clearly loved the ground and galloped exactly as you would expect an eventer to gallop. How good Sir Mark’s horse is must be open to question, but clearly on this ground, he is a horse to be reckoned with? In third was Title trained by Roger Varian.
The first Group race of the day, a Group 3 was The Albany Stakes. This time a 6 furlong contest for 2 year old fillies only. There were 15 runners. There were eight runners, all unbeaten and who had won their only race to date. Flotas, from Simon and Ed Crisford’s yard was touted as she won her maiden at Goodwood in pretty convincing style. Another was Hello You who won her maiden on the all-weather in fine style as well. However, this really was a lottery race. This was the first race of the day so it would be interesting to see where on the track the jockeys would race. The 15 runners broke from the stalls in an even break and raced up the middle of the track. The winner was Sandrine trained at Kingclere by Andrew Balding and ridden by David Probert. In second was Hello You trained by Ralph Beckett. Third was Oscula trained by George Boughley and ridden by Mark Crehan. The winner is by Bobbys Kittle out of a Pivotal mare, bred and owned by Kirsten Rausing of the Landwades Stud, one of the bigger and better known studs in Newmarket.