Royal Ascot 2011

To open Royal Ascot 2011, The Queen unveiled a magnificent bronze sculpture in the Ascot's main paddock of Coolmore's stallion, Yeats, who is the only horse to win Ascot's Gold Cup four times. 

It set a quality tone for international racegoers and fans on the first day of Royal Ascot which offers three Group 1 races featuring some of the world's top Turf horses. 

This year is also the first year of the British Champions' Series and winners of those three Group 1s qualify for inclusion. 

The King's Stand Stakes also qualified for the Global Sprint Challenge.
Breeders' Cup executives actively scout the races on Day 1 and 2 for talent to include in their November championship races which will be held November 4 and 5 at Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY.

Arguably the first and third races generated the most interest generated by the presence of Canford Cliffs, Cape Blanco, Goldikova in the first and mega-star Frankel in the third.

The Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions' Series), 1m (8f, 1600m)for 4yo+ 

Canford Cliffs got the better of Goldikova.  Photo ©David Hastings

Flash Dance was pacemaker for Freddie Head's Goldikova, 6yo triple Breeders' Cup Mile winner and 13-Group 1 winner, who was sent out with her jockey Olivier Peslier weighing in two pounds overweight.*

Handicap officials acknowledge that the extra weight negated her fillies' allowance and cost her a length.

With trainer Richard Hannon gunning for blood after his colt Paco Boy's multiple losses to the mare (costing him over £1.5 million in earnings) and a very fit Canford Cliffs under top jockey Richard Hughes, Goldikova could expect no mercy.

With the weight disadvantage, her jockey should not have taken the lead too early if he wanted to avoid setting her up as a sitting duck.

Further, he did not appear notice Canford Cliffs oncoming assault 1f out and responded too late for even a dead heat.

Goldikova is a mare who will always try with her tremendous speed and determination if she gets the jockey signal soon enough.  She did not get it and came in second by 1 length.

Cityscape was another 1¾ lengths in third.  The talented Cape Blanco had an off day 16 lengths behind the winner and beat only Flash Dance home and behind Rio De La Plata and Ransom Note.

The King's Stand Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions' Series and Global Sprint Challenge), 5f (5/8m, 1000m) for 3y0+

Nineteen runners from eight countries competed in this sharp 5f sprint and the impressive foreign competitors looked to have the advantage over Britain's horses.

Robert Cowell's four-year-old gelding, Prohibit, beat out three foreign-trained horses in a tight close with Australia's Star Witness, South Africa's mare Sweet Sanette and Hungary's speedster Overdose.   

Prohibit races best from behind under a strong pace and he got his conditions paying 7/1.

He gave Ballydoyle's Zoffany the chance to streak from the rear 1f out to nearly, but never able to, catch him. 
Favourite Kingsgate Native at 11/2 was 3¾ lengths behind the winner in sixth and the second favourite at 13/2, Sole Power, was eighth by 4¼ lengths.   

*In Peslier's attempt to lose his extra 2 pounds, he took a sauna and grabbed boots which looked like his.  They were not and he was fined £650.  Not his best day.

The St James's Palace Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions' Series), 1m (8f, 1600m) for 3yo entire colts

The world's highest-rated horse, unbeaten Frankel, won his cliffhanger St James Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.        Photo ©David Hastings 

This must be the race of races at this year's Royal Ascot. 

There is no adequate description of the excitement leading up to seeing the world's highest rated horse, Frankel, annihilate another hapless field of the year's best three-year olds.

Yet confused signals between the pacemaker Rerouted who went too fast burning himself out early and the wilful Frankel who forced himself into the lead 2f out and then dawdled almost contemptuously.

The playful Frankel left part of the audience holding its collective breathe and other sounding as if they were having heart attacks with the tension.

After watching Goldikova's being pipped, it was good to see jockey Tom Queally rally his colt thereby averting disaster.
Zoffany has the rare distinction of getting closest to the Wonder at a ¾ length, but only because of a failed Cecil (Sir Henry) team tactic.

Cecil promised to change tactics in future races and defended his jockey from what he felt was unfair criticism. 

Marco Botti's Excelebration lost again to Frankel - this time ceding second to Zoffany and just holding third from Neebras by a head.  They were 2¼ and 2½ lengths behind the winner.

The other five competitors were too far behind to be in the same class:  Dream Ahead, Dubawi Gold, Wootton Bassett, Grand Prix Boss from Japan and pacemaker Rerouted.

The three races were fast on good ground, but this race was the fastest by 0.76s (1m 39.24s).

One can only admire Sir Henry Cecil for allowing the Juddmonte colt his head and experimenting with different tactics.

He is not playing it safe.  Frankel will have his chance to show how good he really is.

Day Two

Races with international 'star' horses and good weather increased Royal Ascot's opening day crowd by 10% over last year to 43,354.  Even Tote betting increased by 14% over last year to £1,245,535.

The second day of Royal Ascot has three world-class Group races which were full of surprises and without a favourite winning.

The Jersey Stakes (Group 3), 7f (7/8m, 1400m) for 3yo

After seeing Richard Hannon's Strong Suit in the saddling area, it was difficult to imagine the imposing colt not being the favourite (11/1), but Codemaster was at 7/4. 

Strong Suit was one of last year's best two-year olds.  Breathing problems developed this year and he had surgery to relieve the difficulty.

When he powered up, Codemaster and the third Western Aristocrat at 9/2 had no answer.  Strong Suit was out front by ½ length and a neck in 1m 26.09s (fast by 0.61s).

The victory gave trainer Richard Hannon and son-in-law Richard Hughes their second Group victory in Royal Ascot's opening races.

The Windsor Forest Stakes (Group 2), 1m (8f, 1600m) for 4yo+ fillies and mares 

Ireland's Lolly For Dolly bested 12 far more experienced and higher-rated fillies to win by 1½ lengths over Sir Henry Cecil's Chachamaidee and David Simcock's First City (by another length).

Tommy Stack, trainer of the winner. attributed her victory to staying ability and newly-fitted blinkers.  Wayne Lordan gave her a perfect ride and was thrilled with his first win at Royal Ascot.

The Prince of Wales's Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions' Series), 1m2f (10f, 1¼m, 2000m) for 4yo+

Frankie Dettori's flying dismount from Godolphin's Rewilding after winning the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.        Photo ©David Hastings 

This race probably had the most shocking conclusion of any during the meet.

Ballydoyle's famous import from Australia, So You Think NZ, was sent out 4/11 favourite.  Any and all would probably have done battle over his being the one sure winner of the day.

Godolphin did not agree and they sent in their Debussy and Rewilding, winner of the Dubai Sheema Classic, to take on the challenge.

Debussy is a better frontrunning horse at 7f or a mile and Rewilding is a true 1m4f stayer who lags in the back to make bursting closes. 

Godolphin bet on So You Think's actually not being a stayer and Rewilding having the ability to handle a sharper trip than usual.  And they have jockey Frankie Dettori.

The saddling-up area is the best place to assess the fitness and mood of potential winners.  Those three horses, plus the underestimated Sri Putra, looked the best. 

I bet on the sleek and lightly-raced Rewilding, half brother of Dar Re Mi by dam Darara, who looked outstanding to me.

Jan Vermeer, who was So You Think's pacemaker, missed the break and took 2f to get to the front putting SYT in second to be closely shadowed by Debussy.
Ryan Moore had trouble settling his mount SYT who was sweating in the paddock.

Once they hit the front, it appeared the race was locked down 1f out until the Dettori torpedo shot from back of the pack to wear down So You Think winning by a neck with Sri Putra third 6 lengths out. 

The crowd was stunned and Godolphin jubilant.

Dettori did his flying dismount after earning himself a nine-day ban for  excessive use of the whip.

Aidan O'Brien claimed his horse lost, because he was not fit enough.  Australians and New Zealanders had much more unkind assessments.

Day Three

The third day of Royal Ascot draws the largest crowd of the Meet as it is Ladies' Day and the ladies come in droves to outdo each other in fashion.

It is also Gold Cup Day.  For the last four years, the race was won by Yeats who is now retired to the Coolmore Stud and commemorated on Day One by The Queen when unveiling his statue in the main paddock. 

This year's tussle for Royal Ascot's iconic was between the two major racing empires:  Opinion Poll for Godolphin (Darley) and Fame And Glory for Ballydoyle (Coolmore). 

The Gold Cup (Group 1) (British Champions' Series), 2m4f (20f, 2½m, 4000m) for 4yo+

Yeats' worthy successor Fame And Glory outclassed Royal Ascot's Gold Cup field winning by 3 lengths over Opinion Poll.            Photo ©David Hastings 

The race was slowly run in 4m 37.51s (16.51s) and perfectly set up for jockey Jamie Spencer to bring Ballydoyle's relaxed Fame And Glory to the front of 14 other competitors in the final furlongs of the Gold Cup.

His stamina gave him the edge in the staying race over Godolphin's respected Opinion Poll and trainer Andre Fabre's accomplished Brigantin who raced for owners Team Valor.  

Fame And Glory won easily by 3 lengths over Opinion Poll and a further 4½ lengths over Brigantin.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien confirmed that the five-year old horse will be prepared for October's Arc de Triomphe and he will return to Royal Ascot next year to try to equal or best Yeats' Gold Cup record. 

Day Four

Thursday at Royal Ascot may be Ladies' Day, but the fourth day of Royal Ascot or Friday has the showcase mile race for the best international fillies of the three-year-old Classic generation.

The Corronation Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions' Series), 1m (8f, 1600m) for 3yo fillies

Robert Collet and son brought their dynamic filly duo, Immortal Verse and Nova Hawk, from France to take first and second in Royal Ascot's Coronation Stakes.       Photo ©David Hastings 

Twelve fillies competed led by some of Britain and Ireland's best females.  

France's Robert and son Ron Collet believed they had two of the best three-year old fillies, Immortal Verse and Nova Hawk, of 2011 and committed them to Royal Ascot's prestigious Coronation Stakes. 

They were right.  The beautiful Immortal Verse beat her beautiful compatriot Nova Hawk by 2¼ lengths followed a half length by Richard Fahey's Barefoot Lady.  

The British were stunned but gracious to the happy Frenchmen.  Regretfully, there is some truth in the French trainers complaint to the French press that they received only a tepid reception for their victories.

The King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2), 1m4f (12f, 1½m, 2400m) for colts and geldings

Trainer John Gosden usually has good reasons when he brings a three-year-old colt who has only won a maiden to compete in one Royal Ascot's Group 2 historic races.

Nathaniel was second to Treasure Beach in the Group 3 Chester Vase and did not face as stiff competition in the King Edward.

The handsome Nathaniel, who has proven to be best at 12 furlongs, waltzed 5 lengths past his nearest rival (of nine) Fiorente and another 2 lengths ahead of Alexander Pope in a slow 2m 34.48s (slow by 4.48s). 

Young jockey William Buick rode Nathaniel to perfection.

The team is just beginning its upward curve for they have a very talented colt.

Day Five

Royal Ascot's closing day on Saturday is often family day which has one of the best races for two-year olds and a prestigious 6f sprint which is part of the Global Sprint Challenge along with the 5f King's Stands Stakes won by Britain's Prohibit on opening day.

Many foreign sprinters come to Royal Ascot just to compete in both races as the 5 and 6 furlong distances.

Until recently the British sprinters were easy prey for the superior foreign horses, but that has changed with Prohibit and Society Rock (below). 

The Golden Jubilee Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions' Series and Global Sprint Challenge, 6f

Society Rock outpowered Monsieur Chevalier and Star Witness in Royal Ascot's Golden Jubilee Stakes.          Photo ©David Hastings 

Australia's Star Witness travelled to Royal Ascot to compete in both its Global Sprint Challenge races a 5 and 6 furlongs. 

He was unfortunate to be touched off by Prohibit in the King's Stands Stakes, but had no excuses when he lost to Society Rock by 1¾ lengths.  He was third 1¼ lengths behind trainer Richard Hannon's Monsieur Chevalier who has recovered much of his earlier form.

Trainer James Fanshawe always seems to produce a winner at Royal Ascot.

The Chesham Stakes (Listed Race), 7f for 2yo fillies and colts 

Future star Maybe in the Ballydoyle Tabor colours imposed herself on 15 other 2y olds by 2¼ lengths in Royal Ascot's Chesham Stakes.          Photo ©David Hastings

Sometimes trainers are overly enthusiastic about their horses, but Aidan O'Brien's words about his two-year-old filly Maybe were understatements.

With Ryan Moore on board, the filly was sent out 5/2 favourite in Royal Ascot's Chesham Stakes and she thrashed the field of 16 - 2¼ lengths in front of Fort Bastion and another 3 lengths before Self Centered.

The youngster is a very finished professional filly and one expects great things from her.

The O'Brien/Moore team also won the second race of the day, the Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2), 1m4f for 4yo+, with four-year-old colt Await The Dawn who beat Harris Tweed by 3 lengths and Drunken Sailor in third.

Overall World Top Ten Ratings

Outstanding winners and seconds enhanced their reputations on the World Top Ten Ratings with their Royal Ascot Turf performances:

Canford Cliffs and Goldikova rose to 130 and 126 respectively for the Queen Anne race.

Rewilding and So You Think raised their ratings to 130 and 129 respectively for the Prince of Wales's Stakes.

Frankel retains his 133 world leader rating for the 2000 Guineas though his impressive St James's Palace Stakes did not rate a 133.

Workforce earned his 127 from the Brigadeer Gerard and did not compete in Royal Ascot.

Five of the world's top Turf horses competed at Royal Ascot and six of the 11 are European.

Posted June 19, 2011

Royal Ascot Will Set Season's Form Again

The five-day Royal Ascot Meet occurs during the early peak season for most horse.  Its races are known to establish the year's form for the horses competing in its wide range of races and distances.

It is suitable, that given 2011 is the 300th Anniversary of Royal Ascot, the QIPCO British Champions Series should start its first Series in the same year having seven of Royal Ascot's races are part of the Series.

Three major QIPCO BCS races are on opening day June 14th.  

The Queen Anne Stakes (1m, 4yo+) has lured six-year-old Goldikova back to England to repeat her success last year.  She is up against very tough competition against powerful males like Canford Cliffs, Cape Blanco, Citiscape, Ransom Note and Rio Del La PlataFlash Dance will be her pacemaker.

Given the mess in the Prix de Diane, one hopes Goldikova's jockey remembers that she is 2010 Horse of the Year in both England and France as well as being the three-times' winner of the Breeders' Cup Mile.

The King's Stand Stakes (5f, 3yo+) has attracted 19 of some of the world's finest sprinters - except Black Caviar who will compete in 2012 - and trainers.

Overdose is back for the Czech Republic.  Todd Pletcher brought Bridgetown and Wesley Smith brought Holiday For Kitten to be ridden by Zenyatta's partner Mike Smith who is riding in Britain this Spring.

Star Witness is currently favourite and hails from Australia.

The European home team claims the favourites in Sole Power and game Kingsgate Native

This is the most open race of the three starting the RA/BCS Series.

The St James's Palace Stakes (1m, 3yo) promises to be a thriller with eight taking on Frankel who is the highest-rated colt in the world at 130.

Japan is not affraid of him.  It has sent Grand Prix Boss with Dubai World Cup winner Mirco Demuro on board.  Dumuro is proving to be one of the world's top jockeys in and out of Italy along with his chum Frankie Dettori.

Dubawi Gold and Wootton Bassett return to the challenge against Frankel along with Dream Ahead, Excelebration, Rerouted, Godolphin's Neebras and Ballydoyle's Zoffany.

Many think Canford Cliffs will beat Goldikova.  He may, but my heart is always with her.

I cannot predict the sprint outcome, but I cannot see any colt beating Frankel unless he has his first bad day.

Posted June 12, 2011

Inside international horse racing paddocks with form expert Susan Trevelyan-Syke

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Calendar 2020

May 4

2000 Guineas
May 2

1000 Guineas
May 3

Kentucky Oaks, KY
Sept 4

Kentucky Derby
Churchill Downs, KY
Sept 5

 ©Racing International

Dubai World Cup Cancelled

Many horses and riders were in the Middle East for the Saudi Cup and Meydan's Al Maktoum Challenge meet to compete further in the March 28 Dubai World Cup. 

Due to transport shutdowns and disruptions due to COVID-19, a significant number could not travel to the meet - or would have great difficulty returning to their home countries afterwards.

Etihad Airways last flight is March 29.

And then there was the risk element of contact with the pandemic corinavirus away from home.

©Racing International, March 24, 2020

©Racing International at Santa Anita

Not All US Racing Has Stopped

Not all US racetracts have closed down. Santa Anita and Golden Gate in California, Oaklawn Park in Arizona, Gulfstream in Tampa Bay Downs in Florida, Fonner Park in Nebraska, Charles Town Races in West Virginia, Remington Park and Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma continue to run live races spectator free.

The Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park had purse cut from $1million to $750,000 and will be held May 2.

The Florida Derby, sheduled for this Saturday, had same cut.

Both Derbys are funded by casinos forced to close because of the corinavirus.

The Kentucky Derby will be held September 5.

©Racing International, March 24, 2020