The Queen Misses the First Two Days at Royal Ascot as Prince Charles deputises

The first day, many regard, as the best day of racing – at least the purists do. The big question this year was how many days, if any at all, will The Queen attend the 2022 Royal Ascot Meeting, back with all the carriage driving down the straight mile and razzmatazz which the whole meeting generates. Up to now, apart from the pandemic, Her Majesty has never missed a single day of the Royal meeting since Her coronation in 1953. However, Prince Charles was in the first coach with the Duchess of Cornwall with other members of the Royal family in the three carriages behind. This article reports on the first two days of The Royal meeting.

Day One

Baaeed – winner of the Queen Anne Stakes

With seven races on the card and three of them Group 1s, it was always going to be an exciting and informative day. The first as is the tradition was the Queen Anne Stakes, a Group 1 to commemorate the instigation of Royal Ascot by Queen Anne in 1768. There were fewer runners than normal taking on the mile straight course, but with Baaeed in the line-up, trained by William Haggas and the top rated horse in the world currently, some may well have decided to contend other races rather than this one leaving just seven runners. Except for Baaeed, all the runners had had a go at winning this race before including the veteran runner Accidental Agent who won the race in 2015. In the race after an even break, all the runners were well bunched together with Baaeed in the middle of the pack. Real World took the lead at the three furlong marker at which point Baaeed was asked for an effort by jockey Jim Crowley. With consummate ease, he took the lead and won almost in a hack canter. Real World was second trained by Saeed Bin Suroor with Aidan O’Brien’s Order of Australia in third. The win was the first Group 1 success for William Haggas at any Royal Meeting.

The second race of the day was The Coventry Stakes, a six furlong contest for two year olds only. This was a seventeen runner affair. Sixteen of the seventeen runners were previous winners, with the Aidan O’Brien runner, Blackbeard a winner of three races in his short career already and unbeaten. Others thought to have a decent chance were Persian Force, Scholarship and Royal Scotsman. In the event, jockey Hollie Doyle riding for Archie Watson took the honours with Bradsell a colt by Tasleet, who has started his stallion career so well. Bradsell was only a 12,000 guinea yearling last autumn and then returned a mere 34,000 when represented at public auction as a breeze up horse. Persian Force was second just beating Royal Scotsman with Blackbeard in fourth.

Nature Strip takes the King Stand Stakes by storm

The third race of the day was another Group 1, the five furlong King Stand Stakes in which there were eighteen runners, another unusually large field for a Group 1. The Queen had Kings Lynn, her home bred 5 year old gelding and winner last time out in a decent renewal of the Temple Stakes, a Group 2 at Haydock only a couple of weeks ago. There were plenty of others with very decent credentials, so this was always going to one of the highlighted races of the week. It was such an international race that the Wesley Ward runner Golden Pal ridden by top American jockey Irad Ortiz at Ascot for the first time ever was sent off favourite with the Australian runner Nature Strip trained by Chris Waller and ridden by James MacDonald as second favourite. It was an incredibly messy start with Jamie Spencer’s mount, Khadeem rearing in the stalls as they opened and leaving the jockey in the stalls while the horse bolted out. The second amazing event was that Golden Pal completely missed the break and was already out of the race. The favourite came last. In a very fast run race of just 58 seconds, the Australian horse, Nature Strip took the win by 4 ½ lengths, and that after he took a very keen hold all through the race. Henry Candy’s Twilight Calls was second with Ryan Moore on board with Acklam Express ridden by Rowan Scott for Nigel Tinkler storming home near the rails took the third place. Acklam Express was sent off at 200 to 1!!!

Coroebus wins the St James palace Stakes

The very next race was yet another Group 1, The St James’ Palace Stakes for three year old colts only over the round mile. Thirteen runners came under starter’s orders including the very well thought of and winner of this year’s Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket – Coroebus, trained for Godolphin by Charlie Appleby. Two trained by William Haggas, Maljoom and My Prospero had both had a couple of runs this term and had won but, so they looked to have something to prove. The race was a generally messy one with the runner going very steadily for the first 5 furlongs before making the final 3 furlongs a sprint. This did not suit Coroebus at all as he managed to get boxed in and run with the choke out the whole way round. William Buick chose to stay on the rails in the hope that a gap would open up for him, which it did as Lusail, trained by Richard Hannon, ridden by Pat Dobbs came off the rail. A regrettable mistake by Pat Dobbs, because if he had kept Coroebus penned in, he would have won. Coroebus did win just with Lusail coming second but the most impressive run was by another who was well boxed in, the Haggas trained My Prospero ridden by Cieran Fallon, who afterwards said he should have won. The second Haggas trained runner Maljoom was another to get boxed in, who also came up fast at the end, eventually coming fourth.

Day Two

Prince Charles arrives at The Royal Meeting with The Duchess of Cornwall

Another beautiful summer’s day dawned for the second of the five days of this Royal Ascot Meeting. Once again, The Queen did not attend and Her place was once again taken by Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall.

The main race of the day and the only Group 1 was The Prince of Wales Stakes which only attracted a rather disappointing five runners. The 1 mile 2 furlong contest had a very international feel with two runners from the UK with the Sir Michael Stoute trained Bay Bridge, a 4 year old colt and winner of 5 of his six outings; the last time out winning a Group 2 race at Sandown recently. The Second of the UK participants was the John and Thady Gosden trained Lord North – a course and distance winner. A French raider came care of trainer Gianluca BietoliniGrand Glory, a six year old mare and winner of her two starts this year, both pattern races at Paris Longchamp. Ireland’s Joseph O’Brien supplied one runner – State of Rest a 4 year old colt and winner of Prix Ganey at Longchamp, a Group 1, last time out. The final runner was sent to Ascot all the way from Japan. Shahryar – trained by Hideaki Fujiwara. This horse came with some serious credentials as he is already the winner of the Japan Cup last autumn and in March, took the Sheema Classic in Dubai, both races – Group 1’s. So although there were only five runners, what a line up!! Then what a race! Lord North was put into the stalls with the aid of a hood and when the gates opened, Frankie Dettori was unable to remove the hood, so the horse missed the break by some few lengths which totally put paid to any chance of him winning. State of Rest took the lead and had a comfortable run with none of the others really taking him on. Shahryar, the Japanese runner was expected to take a strong hold and was likely to make the running, but that didn’t happen. Bay Bridge did take a keen hold early on but was never in the lead.

Joseph O’Brien – winning trainer-
State of Rest

He did come through at the end of the race but found the Joseph O’Brien horse to fast and never got a blow. The Stoute trained horse came in second with Grand Glory in third. Grand Glory was never going to be quick enough on the good to firm or even firm ground to take this race and he also took a keen hold at the start which didn’t help his cause. This was a first Royal Ascot winner for Joseph O’Brien as a trainer, (he won this race ten years ago riding for his father) and it was also a first winner for Irish champion jockey Shane Crosse, it was not a very satisfactory race. Apart from the mishap to Lord North, there was no logic to the race and tactics were rather all over the place.

Saffron Beach wins Duke of Cambridge despite giving weight away

Although we are really only looking at the Group 1 races at this meeting, one other race, a Group 2 really should have been Group 1 with the quality of horses running. The Duke of Cambridge Stakes over the straight mile for mares and fillies of 4 years old and up. It was again very well attended by international runners with two from France and one from Germany. Bashkiova, trained by William Haggas was thought to be the one in form after her scintillating win at Epsom recently. However, being by Pivotal, whose off-spring like some cut in the ground which the filly got at Epsom and certainly was not going to get here, doubts must have been prevalent Despite that,  the filly being sent off favourite. Saffron Beach was giving weight of 5 pounds away to all the other runners as she won the Group 1 Chariot Stakes last year suggested that she may have just too much weight to be as effective as she could be. Not a bit of it, the Jane Chapple Hyam trained filly was always near the front for the whole mile and then very comfortably cruised to win the race with William Buick on board. She was given a lovely lead into the race by the German horse Novemba who led the race for the most-part and ended up coming fourth. It was another difficult start as one of the French horses, Sabila Spain, trained by Christophe Head went down in the stalls just before the off and under rules of racing had to be withdrawn, despite the filly looking fine as she was unceremoniously walked back across the finish line. The second home was Thunder Beauty trained by David O’Meara and third was Primo Baco trained by Ed Walker.

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