Global Weekly Review - A Focus On Royal Ascot
Another vintage Royal Ascot, and another opportunity to applaud some great performances on the racecourse. This meeting has taken on another dimension following the promotion of overseas runners, and the very high position it holds in world racing is due largely to this policy.
Tepin, the G1 Breeders' Cup Mile winner, crossed the Atlantic to defy the critics with a brilliant win in the G1 Queen Anne Stakes, which started the week in truly international style. It set the scene for a magnificent five days.
Godolphin enjoyed a highly successful week, chalking up four winners and numerous placings, for total prizemoney of £683,222. The star was the Andre Fabre-trained filly Usherette in the G2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes, but classy Ribchester, trained by Richard Fahey, was pushing her for honours with a fine win in the G3 Jersey Stakes.
The Michael Halford-trained Portage carried the royal blue colours to a courageous win in the Royal Hunt Cup, while Hawkbill led home a Godolphin 1-2 when defeating Prize Money in the G3 Tercentenary Stakes. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed's global stable made its presence felt.
For the future, both Usherette and Ribchester can certainly be eyeing G1 prizes, with the latter expected to target the G1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. The Iffraaj colt had by-passed a clash with three Guineas winners in the G1 St James's Palace by lowering his sights for the Jersey - but his chance for G1 glory will come later in the Summer.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the week was the G1 Prince Of Wales's Stakes, in which A Shin Hikari, officially the highest-rated horse in the world, finished last of six runners, behind My Dream Boat, trained by Clive Cox. The winner was the rank outsider, shunned by the tipsters and form analysts, yet this cannot detract from a high class performance.
A Shin Hikari did not go fast enough in front, in my opinion. Yutaka Take, his partner, seemed to expect - and, indeed, require - some other horse to go on. When nothing took up the role of pacesetter, he seemed completely lost, which was a surprise considering A Shin Hikari had made virtually all in the G1 Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin in December.
Other stars of the week were Order Of St George, who came from an unpromising position on the home bend to land the G1 Ascot Gold Cup, Dartmouth, who gave Her Majesty The Queen a winner in the G2 Hardwicke Stakes, and the brilliant American juvenile filly, Lady Aurelia, who blitzed her opposition in the G2 Queen Mary Stakes.