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Much like the opening day, Wednesday at Royal Ascot 2021 was run on very fast ground with a noticeable bias appearing towards the stands side rail.
In truth, the far side was just as quick, however jockeys weren’t willing to split into two groups. That meant those down the centre weren’t favoured, though some enterprising rides brought about some great results.
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Royal Ascot Day 2 – Wednesday 16th June 2021
The feature race of the day was the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes. The shine was rather taken off it early in the morning however.
Last year’s winner Lord North was announced as a non-runner due to the ground, so all eyes were on Love to see whether after 10 months off she was as good as before.
The day began with no less than three Group 2’s, while crucial betting race the Royal Hunt Cup came later.
2.30 – Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2) (CLASS 1) (2yo fillies) 5f
|1st||Quick Suzy||8/1||Gavin Cromwell||Gary Carroll|
|2nd||Twilight Gleaming||9/4 Fav||Wesley A Ward||John R Velazquez|
|3rd||Cheerupsleepyjean||50/1||J A Stack||Chris Hayes|
Betting was very competitive for the opening race, the Queen Mary Stakes. Given that this is a five-furlong event it’s no surprise that the American horses were popular.
Wesley Ward’s Twilight Gleaming went off a strong favourite, but there was good money coming in for Irish-trained Quick Suzy who had the benefit of three previous runs.
Drawn on the ride side of the track, Quick Suzy showed terrific pace throughout. Hayes was in the perfect position to challenge two furlongs out, when he pressed the button, the response was instant.
Quick Suzy skipped clear to score by 1¼ lengths from Wesley Ward’s horse in the end, looking very impressive. A major feature was the draw, the first three home coming from stalls 22, 20 and 15.
3.05 – Queen’s Vase (Group 2) (CLASS 1) (3yo) 1m6f
|1st||Kemari||15/2||Charlie Appleby||William Buick|
|2nd||Wordsworth||100/3 Fav||A P O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|3rd||Stowell||12/1||John & Thady Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
This is the very race Gold Cup hero Stradivarius won in 2017 and often produces top future stayers. This time around, a bunch of inexperienced three-year-olds were taking on the distance for the first time in their careers.
Aidan O’Brien held a strong hand, while Mark Johnston was full of hope for his pair too. This season however it is dangerous to ever underestimate one of Charlie Appelby’s Godolphin runners and the Derby-winning combination were at it again in the Queen’s Vase.
Fellow Godolphin runner Law Of The Sea led the way and set the race up nicely. Kemari was always travelling comfortably in third or fourth, with Wordsworth also prominent.
Will Buick eased his gelding to the front a quarter-mile from the line and kicked on in good fashion. He finished 1½ lengths clear of Wordsworth, Stowell running on from the back of the pack to finish third. The run of Stowell was an extraordinary one given that he had too much to do in the straight.
3.40 – Duke of Cambridge Stakes (Group 2) (CLASS 1) (4yo+) 1m
|1st||Indie Angel||22/1||John & Thady Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2nd||Lady Bowthorpe||7/2||William Jarvis||Kieran Shoemark|
|3rd||Queen Power||11/4 Fav||Sir Michael Stoute||Silvestre De Sousa|
Indie Angel was a fully deserving winner of this race, but her success was a strange one and not just because of her 22/1 odds.
Despite knowing where the better ground was, the jockeys decided to come up the middle of the track. With the usual suspects of Queen Power and Lady Bowthorpe setting down for battle there, Frankie Dettori had other ideas.
With around two furlongs to go, Dettori steered his mount around the field and to the near side. From there he sped along the faster ground and flew to a good-looking 2½-length win.
In truth, Indie Angel was not beaten far by Lady Bowthorpe and Queen Power when they met at Newmarket. That day she was trapped out wide and was never in it, but this superb ride meant her turning the tables was absolutely no fluke.
3.40 – Prince of Wales’s Stakes (British Champions Series) (Group 1) (CLASS 1) (4yo+) 1m2f
|1st||Love||11/10 Fav||A P O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2nd||Audarya||10/1||James Fanshawe||William Buick|
|3rd||Armory||5/2||A P O’Brien||Seamie Heffernan|
With no Lord North in the field, it was initially felt that this would be easy for the returning Love. Last year’s 1000 Guineas, Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks winner however had been off the track since August.
Ryan Moore bounced the good-looking four-year-old out of the stalls and immediately hit the front. Having initially looked comfortable on the front end, Moore began to bump and shove at the two pole, but the filly responded brilliantly. She showed real guts to fend them all off and score on her comeback by just under a length.
Love is one of the highest rated horses in the world and it was fantastic to see her come back with another win at the top level.
Audarya was once again underestimated beforehand. Her wins at Newcastle, Deauville and in the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland were achieved at odds of 12/1, 48/1 and 12/1 again. A 10/1 shot here, she ran brilliantly for second place under the excellent William Buick.
Armory ran well in third, but given that Lord North didn’t run and Sangarius flattened out, the race lacked something.
5.00 – Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap) (CLASS 2) (4yo+) 1m
|1st||Real World||18/1||Saeed bin Suroor||Marco Ghiani|
|2nd||Astro King||11/2 Fav||Sir Michael Stoute||Ryan Moore|
|3rd||Grove Ferry||12/1||Andrew Balding||David Probert|
|4th||Ouzo||33/1||Richard Hannon||Sean Levey|
The Hunt Cup result was a turn-up in a number of ways, all of them positive. The winner, Real World, may be owned by Godolphin but this was never about domination of the sport.
Rather than Charlie Appleby, this one was trained by Saeed bin Suroor who is looking for a resurgence. This big result will help that no end.
It was terrific to see, partly because Real World came from gate 4 and ran on the far side. Already the argument had raged that the ground was faster on both wings and so it’s the middle of the track the jockeys should have been avoiding.
Real World stretched out in rather spectacular fashion for a 4¾-length win from the well backed Astro King (near side). The result was also a terrific one for young claiming jockey Marco Ghiani. Uniquely, he became the third winning Italian rider of the week after Frankie Dettori and Andrea Atzeni.
5.35 – Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed Race) (CLASS 1) (2yo) 1m2f
|1st||Chipotle||22/1||Eve Johnson Houghton||Charles Bishop|
|2nd||Dig Two||7/1||Hugo Palmer||James Doyle|
|3rd||Boonie||18/1||Kevin Ryan||Adam Kirby|
Once more a couple of American-trained runners were all the rage here. Ruthin and Golden Bell didn’t really show up too well however, as the home team came to the fore.
Having learned that the far side rail may be as fast as the stands side, the jockeys affected the result. Brocklesby winner Chipotle, drawn in stall 1, ran away with this having clung to the far side, scooting 2¼ lengths clear having hit the front in the final half-furlong.
This was a massive result for jockey Charles Bishop, as well as trainer Eve Johnson Houghton.
The Windsor Castle was a talking point for another reason on the day. Unraced Kaboo was backed from 200/1 all the way down to 15/2. It wasn’t to be his day, but on debut he ran brilliantly to finish fourth, beaten only 3¼ lengths.
6.10 – Kensington Palace Stakes (Handicap) (CLASS 2) (4yo+) 1m
|1st||Lola Showgirl||12/1||David Loughnane||Laura Pearson|
|2nd||Ffion||10/1||David Loughnane||Richard Kingscote|
|3rd||Waliyak||9/1||Roger Varian||David Egan|
|4th||Declared Interest||11/1||Ralph Beckett||Rob Hornby|
Royal Ascot Day Two continued to amaze right up to the final race – and beyond. The Kensington Palace Stakes began in bizarre fashion.
Saeed bin Suroor’s Stunning Beauty, ridden by Silvestre De Sousa, needed a blindfold and a blanket top help get her into the stalls. Despite the jockey shouting for the starter to wait, the field was let go and with the blindfold not removed Stunning beauty did not emerge. That drama didn’t end there.
Meanwhile, the rest of the field were away and the result was a great story. Shropshire trainer David Loughnane had high hopes of a Royal Ascot breakthrough this week, and ended up with a 1-2.
His Lola Showgirl and Ffion were just three-quarters of a length apart at the line after a battling finish. Laura Pearson was also the second claiming jockey of the afternoon to score. She also adds her name to the thankfully growing list of female winning jockeys at the meeting.
After the race, winning punters had to wait until almost 7pm to be paid out. A stewards’ enquiry took place to determine whether or not Stunning Beauty was classed as a winner. The race could even have been made void. In the end, they decided they had no choice but to declare her a runner despite the filly never having a chance from the outset.
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