Queen Congratulates Sir Michael Stoute on Day Two with Eighty Royal Ascot Winners.
The annual racing jamboree at Royal Ascot is here once again. As has been the tradition since 1711, when Queen Anne came to the races down the straight mile in a procession, Her Majesty The Queen did likewise again in 2019 signalling the start of this great five day sporting and fashion event.
The Queen was accompanied by the King and Queen of The Netherlands and The Duke of York in the main carriage, followed by three other carriages with other members of the Royal family.
Once the procession was completed, the day’s racing I thought was rather disappointing compared with the first day of the meeting in previous years. The first race, The Queen Anne Stakes, the first of the day’s three Group 1 races, looked on paper to be one of the best contests of the week, but didn’t seem in my opinion, to live up to expectations. Sixteen runners faced the starter, which was a much larger field than normal, with several milers having rights to lay claim to the crown. Last year’s winner, Accidental Agent did come out of the stalls at the off, (for those old enough, a perfect ‘Hamlet advertisement’). Of the others, the wonderful filly Laurens and recent Lockinge winner Mustashry both looked to have real credentials, as well as Le Brivdo and Barney Roy. In the event, all were soundly beaten by Lord Glitters trained by David O’Meara and ridden by Daniel Trudhope. Second was the Andrew Balding trained Beat The Bank with One Master coming third. All the main protagonists seem to be out with the washing?
Following the Coventry Stakes for two year olds, the second Group 1 race of the day The King Stands Stakes over 5 furlongs had 12 runners. The favourites were Battash, recent winner at Haydock, Blue Point, triple winner earlier in the year in Dubai and also fancied was Mabs Cross. The result was Blue Point winning with Battash second and Soldiers Call in third with Mabs Cross coming n fourth. The winner is owned by Godolphin Racing and trained by Charlie Appleby and is by Shamadarl out of a Royal Applause mare. The race was won in 58.53 seconds which was on a par with the standard time for this race.
The third Group 1 race followed, The St James Palace Stakes over a mile for three year old colts only. This was a contest with the major 2000 guineas winners from the year; Circus Maximus, Phoenix of Spain and second on the French 2000 guineas Sharman, over for a day trip from France. Also in the mix was Too Darn Hot, who missed the Newmarket 2000 guineas due to a training set back, but was sent off favourite anyway. The winner was the unfancied Circus Maximus (by Galileo) trained by Aiden O’Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore. Perhaps this horse is better than was thought, but perhaps also, it shows that there is no outstanding three year old this year? Second and third, both trained by John Gosden was King of Comedy (by Kingman) and Too Darn Hot (by Dubawi). By the time this race was run, the weather had turned very wet. Normally, this race is one of the major contests of the week, but this year, frankly, it didn’t seem like it.
Six races for day two and without doubt the race of the day if not the week is The Prince of Wales Stakes. Eight runners of huge quality faced the starter for this Group 1 contest, the only Group 1 of the day.
With Her Majesty arriving in the rain but stoical as always, the rooves on the Royal Landau carriages remained open. If the royal party arrived any later, they may have had second thoughts as the rain turned into more of a monsoon for the next hour and half.
As suspected, the race to make the others on the card look a little ordinary, although that is probably unfair, was The Prince of Wales Stakes. Before the race, Crystal Ocean was bidding to win his first Group 1 in his career, and also to provide his trainer Sir Michael Stoute his 80th Royal Ascot winner. Magical, trained by Aiden O’Brien, coming into the race on the back of three Group victories this season, her only three starts. Unsurprisingly, she started favourite. She is by the great Galileo out of Half Way to Heaven. Another Galileo was the German bred Andre Fabre trained Waldgeist. The seven times winner with nearly 1.5 million pounds in prize money including winning his only race of the season for him, The Prix Ganay at Longchamp. Another interesting runner who had travelled from Japan to take part was Deirdre. By Harbinger out of a mare by Special Week, the five year old mare is trained by Mitsuru Hashida and ridden by Yutaka Take, the Japanese sporting icon. Finally, the filly Sea of Class ridden by James Doyle. Just second last time out in the Arc at Longchamp to Enable, this was her run of the year. William Haggas, the trainer, said just before the race, that he would run her despite the rain making the ground totally unsuitable for the filly. He said that “he wanted to make decisions which were right for the horse, and he was worried that he had got this one wrong.”
The race started, and the rain was so torrential that it was hard to see what was happening. Hunting Horn, the O’Brien pace maker soon went into a small lead, chased by Crystal Ocean despite an awkward start. Sea of Classic and Waldgeist were both held up for a late run. As the eight runners came into the 3 and half furlong straight, Deirdre, Crystal Ocean, Magical and Hunting Horn were in the lead. Deirdre was soon outpaced as was Hunting Horn. Sea of Class came with a late run as did Waldgeist, but Sea of Class simply could not handle the ground leaving a duel between Magical and Crystal Ocean. A furlong out, Frankie Dettori riding Crystal Ocean was just in the lead ahead of Ryan Moore ridden Magical. Magical looked to have got the win, but just before the line another surge by Frankie ensured that Crystal Ocean won his first Group 1 giving Sir Michael Stoute his 80th Royal Ascot win. Waldgeist was third.
Mark Johnston took the first race of the day The Queen Mary Stakes for two year old fillies only with Raffle Prize ridden by Frankie Dettori . The second race, The Queen’s Vase was won by Andrew Balding trained Dashing Willoughby ridden by Oisin Murphy. The fourth race, The Duke of Cambridge Stakes, a group 2 contest for older fillies and mares over 1 mile 2 furlongs was won by Move Swiftly giving William Haggas some compensation for the disappointing run of Sea of Class. Daniel Tudhope was the rider, taking his third victory of the week so far. The next race, The Royal Hunt Cup, the traditional cavalry charge over one mile was won by 20/1 shot Afaak ridden by Jim Crowley, trained by Charlie Hills. The final race of the day was The Windsor Castle Stakes, a 5 furlong Listed contests for two year olds only. Again the Aiden O’Brien/Ryan Moore duo struck with Southern Hills. Drama accompanied the loading process for these two year olds when half way through loading Show Me Show Me broke through the front gate of his stall, got loose and had a good gallop up and down the course before being finally being caught.
Thankfully after the main race of the day, The Prince of Wales, the rain relented much to the relief of racegoers, jockeys and trainers.