Shadwell Stud Win Three Races on Champions Day at Ascot
As the flat racing winds down in Europe, the final ‘Champions’ race meeting took place at Ascot with four Group1 races to complete the British season. The race for the British Champion jockey, always close throughout the year also came to a conclusion. We also pay tribute to the juveniles who raced at Newmarket last week
The Juvenile Racing for the Dewhurst and Bet 365 Fillies Mile
Before we discuss the events at Ascot, we need to rewind a week to mention the ‘Future Champions Day’ at Newmarket where the juveniles ran their last races of the season. The card included the Bet 365 Fillies Mile for 2 year olds only in which there were nine runners. The hot favourite was John and Thady Gosden’s Inspiral owned and bred by the Cheveley Park Stud. This filly is by Frankel out of Starscope by Selkirk and Frankie Dettori had her nearer the back than front for most of the race. He made his move 2 furlongs from the post and went into the lead with some comfort before going away and winning by 2 ½ lengths. This was her fourth race of the season and the fourth win having won the May Hill Stakes at Doncaster in her previous outing. Prosperous Voyage, trained by Ralph Beckett was second having led for most of the race before being headed. She was running out of petrol, sliding down the order when she found another gear and rallied to finish in second – a tough filly! She was ridden by Ron Hornby. Her pedigree shows like the winner, that she must be considered a contender for the 1000 Guineas next year as she is by Zoffany out of Seatone by Mizzen Mast. However, she has only so far won one of her races, a maiden in July at Epsom. The third home was Cachet, a filly by Aclaim out of Poyle Sophie by Teofilo. This was her seventh run for trainer George Boughey and she has had one previous win. She was ridden by James Doyle.
In the Dewhurst, a race won by some of the greatest race horses to grace the turf, this time looked no exception at Godolphin’s Native Trail, unbeaten in three runs thus far took this in the end with some ease. Trained by Charlie Appleby, who incidentally trained all the winners of the two year old races on today’s card; the colt is by Oasis Dream out of an Observatory mare. William Buick had a difficult race half way through as he got himself rather boxed in with nowhere to go before he managed to get the big horse out to use his stride to win the contest. Native Trail doesn’t look as if he has much speed, but a huge stride which just carries him through his races. The second home was Dubawi Legend, trained by Hugo Palmer and ridden by James Doyle. The colt took a keen hold and was in the lead for most of the race. He was quite well in the lead at the furlong marker, but just didn’t have the speed to beat off the winner who won by 2 lengths. Dubawi Legend is by Dubawi out of a mare by Ravens Pass. The third home was the Roger Varian trained Bayside Boy ridden by David Egan. His pedigree is an interesting one as he is by New Bay the well thought of first season sire by Dubawi and out of an Anabaa mare – one who will surely progress as he looked still a little immature.
At Ascot, the course put on it tenth Champions Day. The idea of this is a one day meeting is the culmination of the Qipco British Champions series which starts each year with the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and has various races at different courses over all distances, and ends at Ascot with the final championship over each distance.
The first race was the Qipco Long Distance Cup only a Group 2 and this year there were 10 runners including Trueshan and Stradivarius renewing their rivalry over the 2 miles. The last time they met, Trueshan beat his rival at Longchamp in bottomless ground. This time round, the ground was more to The Strad’s liking as it was given as good to soft, soft in places. The Mediterranean took them along with Ryan Moore in the saddle from the off to 2 furlongs out when Trueshan and Stradivarius and Tashkan came through. Hollie Doyle riding Trueshan took the lead and was not to be denied, taking the race by a length from Tashkan ridden by Ben Robinson and trained by Brian Ellison and Frankie Dettori on The Strad in third a further length behind. This was a repeat performance of last year with Trueshan retaining his championship for Hollie Doyle, who rode him last year and trained by Alan King. Frankie was very disappointed as he said after the race that the whole race was a messy and rough which stole his chance of winning.
The next race was the first Group 1, the Qipco British Champion Sprint stakes over 6 furlongs. This time there were 20 runners including Dragon Symbol, never a winner of a pattern race but has been placed in 4 group races thus far. He seems to go on any ground for trainer Archie Watson. Another of note was Art Power trained by Tim Easterby. He has won 2 group races in Ireland this term and the ground would be very much to his liking? Creative Force from Charlie Appleby stable with William Buick also was highly thought of in a very open contest. Gen Shiel, last year’s winner took them along with Hollie Doyle again in the saddle, looked as if she may just win again but William Buick had her well in his sights and cruised past to take the victory in the final 100 yards. Hollie and her steed were second with Minzaal, ridden by Jim Crowley and trained by Owen Burrowa was third.
There were 8 runners in the Qipco British Champions Mares and Fillies Stakes over 1 ½ miles including Albaflora, a filly who loved this ground as all her best performances have been completed on exactly this soft turf for trainer Ralph Beckett. Invite, another contender who won her last race, a listed contest for Andrew Balding, the first race for the trainer since the 3 year old moved from Marco Botti’s yard. He didn’t have her for long either as the filly started her training career with Sylvester Kirk. The obvious one they all had to beat however was Snowfall for Aidan O’Brien, winner of several classic and Group races, but maybe off the boil in recent runs? The birthday boy Aidan O’Brien, now 52 year young, also had La Jaconde as a pace maker for Snowfall. The race went to plan until the straight when the Roger Varian trained Eshaada came through with Albaflora with Snowfall struggling in third. As Jim Crowley took Eshaada into the lead, Albafloa was keen to take her on and beat her, but at the end, in a close finish, Eshaada took the race with Albaflora, the apparently perpetual bridesmaid was just second with a disappointing run from Snowfall coming third.
The third Group 1 race on the card for the day was The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, again sponsored by Quipco, the British Champions Mile over the straight mile course. The John and Thady Gosden trained Palace Pier, a Group 1 winner over the course and distance back in the summer. This was a very strong renewal of the race, as there were all the top milers from the year lining up for the 10 runner contest. Others in the race was Baaeed, Mother Earth, Alcohol Free, The Revenant and Lady Bowthorpe, all top race winners this year. Benbati took them along for most of the way with last year’s winner and French raider The Revenant in second place for most of the race. As Frankie shook up Palace Pier, it was fairly clear that although there was a response, it was not going to be enough for Frankie to take the race. Benbati left the stage quite quickly but The Revenant stayed put and was joined by the thus far unbeaten Baaeed ridden by Jim Crowley and trained by William Haggas. Baaeed remained at the forefront of affaires over the line as the unbeaten colt maintained his record. The Revenant was second for H-Graffard from France with Olivier Pellier the jockey. In third was Lady Bowthorpe, a magnificent result for William Jarvis and jockey Kieren Shoemark. The filly will now be retired to stud. It was wonderful to see Her Majesty The Queen at Ascot to present the prizes for the race in Her name. A great cheer went up when race goers realised Her Majesty was attending. The race result was a special reward in a way for Sheikh Hamdan, who died earlier in the year and the Shadwell Stud operation have got their just rewards with this result. It is just a shame that Shadwell announced a couple of weeks ago that they were cutting back their racing operation quite substantially.
The final Group 1 of the day was the Qipco Champions Stakes (British Champions Middle Distance) over 1 mile 2 furlongs. The was another very strong renewal with all the top nine middle distance horses lining up including this year’s two Derby winners in the UK and Ireland, Adayar and Mac Swiney, trained by Charlie Appleby and Jim Bolger respectively. Two other horses of note were in the line-up, Mishiff, winner of his last outing for John and Thady Gosden and William Haggas’s Addeybb, always a runner who has been there or thereabouts and defending his championship win of last year. Addeybb took the field along with tactics being considered by William Buick on Adayar and David Egan on Mishriff. William Buick took his charge up to the front of the race just behind Addeybb while Mishriff was kept mid field. Into the straight and French raider and Mac Swiney came into the lead with Mishriff coming on well behind. Adayer, who kicked out in the stalls before the off, rather melted away. Sealiway, the French raider trained by Cedric Rossi and ridden by Mickael Barzolono was the strongest of them all and he took the Champion Stakes by ½ a length. The second home was Dubai Honour, another trained by the very much in form William Haggas and who supplemented the horse earlier last week and was ridden by James Doyle. The Irish Derby winner Mac Swiney was third ridden by his usual pilot Kevin Manning.
The Champion Jockey’s title was very close this year. The two jockeys in the running were William Buick, who has never won the championship and the current champion defending his crown Oisin Murphy. Just two days before Champion’s day, the two jockeys were only two races apart with Oisin having the advantage. The penultimate day before Champions day had William Buick with three more rides than Oisin at Haydock; and William won one of his races with Oisin taking two. The scores going into Champion’s Day therefore was Oisin Murphy in the lead by 3 race on 153 and William Buick on 150 wins. After William Buick had won a race on today’s card and Oisin Murphy failed to win, by the time the Champion’s Race had finished, it would now be impossible for William to take the title and so it remains with Oisin Murphy for another year, by two wins only!
So another Champions day completes with some surprising results, but nevertheless, the racing was of the highest class and another successful sponsorship for Qipco. Palace Pier and Stradivarius will now go to stud, and the two Goldolphin runners, Adayar and Hurricane Lane will remain in training as four year olds together with the mile winner today, Baaeed. In the final race, Jim Crowley won the handicap with Aldaary which gave him a treble for the day and his owners Shadwell Stud. Very fitting we think. With the plans announced for the future of Shadwell, this was surely a wonderful tribute to the wonderful and kind owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.