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Royal Ascot: Day 2

There was a bit of fallout from Johnny Murtagh’s ‘enthusiastic’ ride on Mastercraftsman yesterday – he got a one-day ban for excessive whip use in the St. James’s Palace Stakes. He picked up another six-day ban for his ‘careless’ ride in the Ascot Stakes, so he’s now up to seven days off after just one day at Royal Ascot.

Ouqba won the Jersey Stakes at quite attractive odds; he just held off fellow longshot Deposer, who finished ahead of Frankie Dettori’s Ashram. Favorite Infiraad didn’t ever fire and finished at the back of the pack. Ouqba’s trainer, Barry Hills, is currently in the hospital and so the horse is being managed by his son, Charlie Hills – that must have perked the family up.

The Windsor Forest Stakes also produced an upset – the aforementioned Johnny Murtagh got Spacious home first at 10-1 odds (although second choice Heaven Sent gave her quite a run for the money). Lush Lashes did get hung out a bit wide, but perhaps the extra five pounds she was toting around affected her more. For whatever reason, she has yet to recapture her great form from last year this season. In any instance, it’s nice to see 6-year-old Heaven Sent put in such a great effort, even in defeat.

Things finally became more predictable in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, with French Derby winner Vision d’Etat (pictured) beating slightly-favored Tartan Bearer; talented French-bred colt Never On Sunday was third. I’ve always liked that this race is reserved for 4-year-olds and up – perhaps we need a few more of those Stateside.

The Royal Hunt Cup handed Murtagh another win (obviously he’s loading up before his ban takes effect) aboard Forgotten Voice. He’s an interesting horse with a pedigree I find quite appealing – he’s by Danehill Dancer, out of a Spend a Buck mare. After a single start at age 2, he sat out his 3-year-old year with an injury and has started three times this year – so far, with a perfect record. Given his previous wins have come on all-weather surfaces, it sounds as though we might see him in California in the fall. There was a bit of controversy before the start, however – three horses were withdrawn from the already-large field for bad behavior. It seems no one was likely to reach Forgotten Voice today, however – mark him down!

Apparently, what you want to do for Royal Ascot juvenile races is bet on Wesley Ward. This time he scored with Jealous Again (although after Strike The Tiger’s win yesterday, she didn’t go off at long odds) in the Queen Mary Stakes, and his logic in bringing these two-year-olds over is impeccable:

“In America we train for speed and the reason I came over here was I thought the others in the race here are trained to go on for next year.

“I just thought I’d get a jump on the other trainers over here. Your horses are bred to go longer and ours are bred for speed and it worked out today. “

While it sounds as though these particular horses are likely to grow into turf sprinter/milers, does yesterday’s listed stakes count toward Kentucky Derby graded stakes earnings? I’m presuming a Group 2 win like the Queen Mary Stakes would be added to the eligible pot. Perhaps raising the profile of these horses early on will pique interest in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Runner up Lady Royal Oak’s trainer, Clive Brittain, said his filly was ‘the best of the English‘ – there was a bit of hand-wringing in some circles (well, really just the Daily Mail, but that’s to be expected) after the Aussie and American wins yesterday (although I think French wins are all right, oddly enough), but it sounds as though some much-needed energy was brought to the winner’s circle presentations. That’s just how we colonials roll.

The favorite got home first again in the Sandringham Handicap – this time, it was Moneycantbuymelove, ridden by Jamie Spencer. The Queen’s filly, Please Sing, had to make do with second place. Just think – if the exacta had been reversed, the one-two finishers would have made a perfectly acceptable imperative sentence.

Thursday could be historic for Yeats, who is aiming to collect his fourth Gold Cup win at age 8. Other major races on the card include the Norfolk Stakes (with another Wesley Ward juvenile, Yogaroo, in action – you know what to do by now) and the Ribblesdale Stakes for fillies. It’s going to be an interesting day.

3 comments to Royal Ascot: Day 2

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for writing on this-I am having a GREAT time watching & playing—

    I do find myself watching or listening to much racing across the Pond–

  • malcer

    After perfecting his strategy of pulling a few quickies as long as the real racehorses haven't entered the game, Ward now comes across the pond to pollute racing on our side of the Atlantic.

    Ultimately the racing secretaries are begging for this to happen by offering completely overblown purses on races that would have attracted the same level of competition for half the purse.

    I'd be surprised if any of his speedsters developed into a meaningful 3yo.

    Ward is wrong, however, in saying that his opposition is built up to peak next year. It's been years since the Queen Mary, a race long overdue for a demotion, last produced any filly of notice (most of the race's recent Top 3 finishers subsequently were outclassed in lower company), but it's an open secret that the European Pattern Committee is reluctant to demote Royal Ascot races. Basically, most of the other trainers in this race are trying the same thing as Ward, he's just way better at it.

  • Anonymous

    All graded stakes wins count towards the Derby, regardless of what country they're run in. So a Queen Mary Stakes win definitely counts.

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