2020 Ascot at home! Ben Rotchford reports
Updated: Jun 20
Tuesday 16th June 2020:
13:50 Queen Anne Stakes
Ryan Moore on board Circus Maximus snatched it by a head for Aiden O’Brien in the first group one contest at Ascot 2020. Dettori was on board Terebellum, seeking to retain his crown 12 months on. He was thought to have stolen victory from Circus Maximus after kicking a furlong out but in form, jockey Ryan Moore urged Cirucs Maximus on towards the leader, eventually taking the lead by getting ahead by a nose, leaving 40-1 longshot Marie’s Diamond back in 3rd. In a squashed market, Circus Maximus drifted from 9/4 to 4/1 and his win was a great start for Ryan Moore and Aiden O’Brien.
14:25 Ribblesdale Stakes
Frankie Dettori gave John Gosden his 50th Royal Ascot win with a convincing victory on board Frankly Darling. Dettori had him nestled in behind the pacemaker Golden Lips before taking charge and setting sail for home. A classy, routine performance from Dettori, with Frankly Darling, the daughter of the beloved Frankel, now a serious contender for Oaks against the highly rated filly, Love. Sky bet have him at a healthy price of 3/1. What a showdown this will be.
15:00 Edward VII Stakes
All the attention pre-race was on both Aiden O’Brien’s trained pair Mogul and Arthur’s Kingdom. Despite the idolisation for the pair, 18-1 longshot Pyledriver hammered a smart field to give William Muir a success at Royal Ascot. Derby winning jockey Martin Dwyer initially held up towards the rear, swiftly moving to the left to find the gap 2 furlongs out and bring it home. The highly anticipated Mogul finished in a disappointing 4th with Arthur’s Kingdom in 2nd. Muir will now monitor the colt over the coming weeks and make a decision about whether to race in the Derby. After a stylish win today, it is evident Pyledriver has all the attributes to play a role in the Derby even at a longer price.
15:30 King Stand Stakes
What a performance this was! Battaash bullied his rivals with his blistering speed to a comfortable win, earning Jim Crowley another Royal Ascot victory. Battaash was 5/6 odds, on favourite to win the King Stand Stakes after the absence of his bitter rival Blue Point, who was victorious for past 2 years. Battaash had that bit of quality his rivals only dreamed of and stood up the plate when pushed by Jim Crowley to win by 2 and a quarter lengths. Equilateral, his stable companion was back in second with Liberty Beach in 3rd. It would have a taken a brave man to bet against him.
16:10- Duke of Cambridge Stakes
Nazeef completed a treble win for jockey Jim Crowley with a close victory in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes. At one point, it was destined for Invitational to guide it home but he was weakened and overtook by Nazeef, who also got the better of the 28/1 long shot Agincourt in fluorescent pink colours. The 3/1 J/F Queen Power, one of the horses trained by Sir Michael Stoute, was back in 3rd, with his other horse, Jublioso, disappointingly finishing last.
16:40- Ascot Stakes
In the final race of the day, Thore Hammer Hansen grabbed his first Royal Ascot win on board Couer de Lion to win the marathon Ascot Stakes of 2m4f. It was thought Joe Fanning on board Summer Moon had took the race away with a six-furlong lead, yet the picture changed. A lot of attention surrounded the mare Verena Blue, the 4/1 JF who was vocally backed by trainer Nicky Henderson. Verena Blue was switching from the jumps to flat, with this change eventually taking its toll. However, it was the jockey Hammer Hansen who caught the eye of this race, grabbing a landmark Royal Ascot win and starting the flat season in style.
Overall, an exciting start to the Royal Ascot Meeting. It comprised everything you’d want from a day at the races: a treble win for jockey Jim Crowley, a blistering performance from the great Battaash and notable first victory for Thore Hammer Hansen. Despite the deserted stands, it did not fail to excite and looks to be a remarkable festival.
Highlight of the day: Thore Hammer Hansen landmark Ascot win.
Highlights from day 1:
• Jim Crowley earned a Royal Ascot treble, with Battaash storming home in the King’s Stand Stakes
• Pyledriver defeated Aiden O’Brien trained Mogul and heads for the Derby on July 4 at 16/1
• Frankly Darling is Oaks-bound to take on the filly, Love, after winning the Ribblesdale field under Frankie Dettori
• Circus Maximus and Terebellum bravely fought out the Queen Anne Stakes
• The ground softened considerably
Wednesday 17th June 2020:
13:50 Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3)
In first ITV race of second day at Royal Ascot, Russian Emperor snatched a late victory to deny her majesty The Queen a win in the Hampton Court Stakes. Oisin Murphy was seeking his second victory of day aboard Berlin Tango, who travelled strongly into the home straight before being overtook Frankie Dettori on board First Receiver. However, it was Russian Emperor who came down the centre of the track to beat the 9/4 favourite, First Receiver and earn Ryan Moore a landmark 60th Royal Ascot win. Ryan Moore seemed his subdued self despite his thrilling victory, yet complementary of the colt describing the horse as “straightforward with a great attitude”.
Russian Emperor was cut to 8/1 by Sky Bet for the Epsom Derby.
14:25 King George V Stakes (Handicap)
Jockey Jim Crowley extended his superb form at Royal Ascot with a 12/1 winner, Hukum, in the King George V Stakes. Crowley led inside the final 2F with the favourite Kipps looming alongside, yet Hukum found another burst and brought it home for Owen Burrows’ first Royal Ascot win. This win gave Crowley his fourth success at the festival, following a stunning treble on Tuesday.
15:00 Prince Of Wales Stakes (Group 1)
Lord North (6-1) grabbed John Gosden another royal victory, beating the highly backed favourite and previous Juddmonte International Stakes winner, Japan. Initially, Bangkok was the pacemaker with Addeybb and Japan close by, with James Doyle happily sitting in at rear. At the turn of the straight, Lord North produced a frightening turn of foot to go on and win
the Prince Of Wales Stakes by three- quarter lengths to Addeybb in second. Japan finished in a disappointing fourth. A breath-taking performance from Lord North and James Doyle.
15:35 Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap)
The 15/2 longshot Dark Vision stormed through the final furlong under William Buick to beat Monatham by 1.25 lengths and Pogo, the 25-1 longshot placed 3rd. The class 2 handicap race saw 23 runners, but it was Godolphin’s Dark Vision who came home in front. It was open market to begin with, yet there was noise surrounding Dark Vision from the beginning, coming back to 8’s all the way from 16-1. An impressive victory and another win for Mark Johnston to add to his CV.
16:10 Windsor Castle Stakes
All eyes were on to see if the Her Majesty Queen could get her first Royal Ascot winner and it was proven to be the case! 7/2 favourite Tactical, jockeyed by James Doyle rode to victory in royal colours to give Her Majesty The Queen her 24th Royal Ascot success. James Doyle delivered a tactical performance to hit the front well inside the final furlong after sitting out wide early on. Yazaman (20-1) stayed on late to grab second spot by a head from Muker at 40-1, a terrific result for trainer Phillip Makin. This victory gave James Doyle his second victory of the day after an outstanding victory on Lord North, as well as giving Andrew Balding another Royal Ascot Success, coming back off 2000 guineas win, with Kameko.
Choir Boy was the Queen’s first Royal Ascot winner back in 1953 ridden by Doug Smith, which inspired an impressive spell of continuous wins for the monarch.
16:40 Copper Horse Handicap
Absolute one-horse race this one. Fujaira Prince bolted up home to win the Copper Horse Handicap to earn Andrea Atzeni his first Royal Ascot victory of the festival. Hochfield initially showed the way as they headed out, with Fujaira Prince settling in second from Collide. It wasn’t long before Fujaira Prince broke away to earn a victory by three or four lengths. Light work!
Highlight of the day: Today’s highlight of the day comes from horse racing broadcaster Mike Cattermole. Here’s what Mike had to say;
“Well I guess it was wonderful to see the Queen winning her 24th race at Royal Ascot with Tactical and such a pity she couldn’t see it live. That said, Lord North was superb in the Prince of Wales. The first three home were geldings in a very prestigious race so I’m not sure what that means. Hope they will all remain sound and thrill us for years to come as they obviously won’t be going to stud!”
Overall, a hectic day at the races. The bookies seemed to have clinched the day with favourites losing in all of the first three races, particularly the 6-1 priced Lord North stealing the victory from Japan. But the tides turned, when Her Majesty’s horse Tactical romped home and gave the Queen a royal success. Who doesn’t love a royal win at Royal Ascot. Until tomorrow, it’s Gold Cup day….
Thursday 18th June 2020:
A quick recap of talking points on day two:
• Tactical landed the Queen a Royal Ascot 2020 winner.
• James Doyle triumphed on Lord North to beat the highly backed Japan.
• Ryan Moore earned his 60th Royal Ascot Victory
13:50- Wolferton Stakes
Mountain Angel conquered the testing conditions to win the Listed Wolferton Stakes on a wet day of day 3 of Royal Ascot. Prince Eiji initially stretched the field, but it was James Doyle who remained patiently waiting for the gap to appear on the rail and bolted up home. The clear favourite Sir Dragonet (15-8) finished in a respectable second making a late charge. Mountain Angel who was unlucky finishing fifth in the race to Addeybb 12 months ago, stole the show today! Superb ride.
14:25 Jersey Stakes
Jim Crowley extends his outstanding Royal Ascot form, with a fifth winner aboard the tenacious Molatham. Crowley, who landed a treble on the first day added another winner to his tally, giving trainer Roger Varian his second win of the day and his third win out of the four Royal Ascot races his horses ran in. Monarch of Egypt held back towards the rear but was brought forward by Ryan Moore and looked like the likely winner. However, the door was opened, letting Molatham (11-2) win by half a length.
15:00 Chesham Stakes
Battleground rose to his expectations to win the Chesham Stakes. He had a wealthy amount of support from the punters, going off at 11/4 favourite. Trained by Aiden O’Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore, Battleground had only made his racecourse debut last week, finishing fifth at Naas. This was O’Brien’s 73rd winner at Royal Ascot.
15:35 Ascot Gold Cup
The Gold Cup. The feature race of the week. All eyes were on Frankie Dettori to see if he could make it a hattrick of Gold Cups aboard Stradivarius and the race certainly lived up to its expectations. Stradivarius bolted 10 lengths clear to win the Gold Cup for John Gosden despite big concerns over the softened ground. Dettori was poised at the top of straight and once he let Stradivarius go, the race was immediately over. This was a box office performance from Frankie, and definitely Stradivarius best visual victory, winning by a distance of 10 lengths. Also, a big hats off to trainer John Gosden for getting Stradivarius ready in a very unorthodox season.
16:10 Britannia Stakes
Yet again it was the Jim Crowley show… Khaloosy (9/2) bounded clear to win the Britannia Stakes in superb style. The Shadwell stud homebred, made it a hat-trick on the day for Roger Varian. Crowley held up towards the rear, eased out to the left 2f from the finish and showed a great turn of foot to bolt home.
Agreed by bookmakers, all profits from the Britannia stakes would go the COVID-19 charity.
16:40- Sandringham Stakes
33-1 longshot Onassis made it back to back Sandringham Stakes successes for Hayley Turner. A lot attention surrounded the favourite African Dream, but Hayley stole the show, with Waliyak for David Egan in a close second. Hayley Turner is considered the best female jockey around and you can certainly see why. A classy performance and great end to a terrific 3rd day.
Day 3’s highlight of day has to be Stradivarius completing the hat-trick of the Ascot Gold Cups. The king stayer, what a champion!
Saturday 20th June 2020:
13:15 Queen Mary Stakes
Campanelle gave the American trainer Wesley Ward another Royal Ascot success with a class display from Frankie Dettori. The 9-2 horse did just enough to win marginally, seeing off the challenge of Sacred with James Doyle on-board. The favourite, More Beautiful (11-8) finished back in 9th. A disappointing run for Ryan Moore who is seeking to win top jockey of the week.
This gives Wesley his fourth Queen Mary Stakes victory. It seriously couldn’t be Royal Ascot without a Wesley Ward win!
13:50 Coventry Stakes
The Coventry Stakes will certainly go down in the history of Royal Ascot, producing a 150-1 WINNER, NANDO PARRADO. This huge upset in the Coventry Stakes is the biggest priced winner in Royal Ascot history, with the second biggest price back in 2008 for Flashmans Papers at 100/1. It was the Kirby and Cox partnership that struck again after a terrific 5/1 winner Golden Horde in the Commonwealth cup yesterday. The well backed favourite Admiral Nelson finished back in 8th with Qaader for Jim Crowley in a respectable second.
This race sums up the weird yet wonderful week of Ascot.
14:25 Coronation Stakes
It was the second win of the day for Frankie Dettori aboard Alpine Star, winning the Coronation Stakes. She followed in the footsteps of her half-sister Alpha Centuri who won the Coronation back in 2018 for trainer Jessica Harrington and for owners the Niarchos Family. Alpine Star was making her seasonal debut and certainly relished this trip. Run of Wild, jockeyed by James Doyle, set the pace early and was challenged by Guineas runner up Cloak of Spirits. However, when asked to, Alpine Star burst through the gap on the rail and romped home.
Dettori said: “It’s great. I really fancied the filly, but I didn’t want to jinx it. I kept quiet. Jessie approached me about 10 days ago when she knew their jockey couldn’t fly here.”
15:00 St James Palace Stakes
All eyes were on Pinatubo to see whether his reputation could be redeemed after the acclaimed colt finished 3rd in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket earlier this month. But it wasn’t meant to be. Palace Pier remained unbeaten and followed in his sire’s (Kingman) footsteps with a fantastic performance to win the St James Palace Stakes with guess who… FRANKIE DETTORI.
It was Wichita who set the pace early with Frankie Dettori happily sitting in the pack. Pinatubo edged out in front of Wichita inside the final furlong, but it was Palace Pier who had the edge and pulled clear. The St James Palace Stakes is one of Group 1 feature races of the week and it certainly lived up to its expectations.
Palace Pier was victorious in a handicap at Newcastle earlier this month and certainly stepped up to the plate today to win a thrilling race and grab Frankie Dettori a final day hattrick!
15:35 Diamond Jubilee Stakes
Kevin Stott (jockey) grabbed his first Royal Ascot winner as Hello Youmzain won an exhilarating Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Hello Youmzain dug deep to deny the highly backed Frankie Dettori on board Sceptical his fourth win of the day. Stott was astonished yet humble in his success and stood him good stead for Wokingham stakes.
16:10 Wokingham Stakes
In a thrilling finish to the Wokingham Stakes, Hey Jonesy prevailed by a nose to grab Kevin Stott a quickfire double. This was the final sprint of the meet with a large field of 22 horses. The field split in half from the off, with Hey Jonsey taking the lead on the far side and Air Raid on the stands side. With Summerghand producing a great turn off foot and swiftly moving to front, Hey Jonsey tired but managed to hang on and win through a photo finish.
What a 30 minutes that was for Kevin Stott.
16:40 Queen Alexandra Stakes
In the final race of the meet, the favourite backers ended the week on a high with Who Dares Wins (1/1) getting the job done and grabbing Tom Marquand his first Royal Ascot win. The favourite was positioned nicely throughout the whole race sitting in the 3rd and when asked to push on, did so and burst down the home straight. A fantastic end to a truly remarkable week.
Journalist and broadcaster Mike Cattermole gives Purple radio his highlight of the day: “Palace Pier for me. Announced himself as a serious horse here. Champion miler material. Frankie too. You just can’t keep him quiet at Ascot! Fair play to Kevin Ryan too with his big sprint double”.
Overall, an excellent day for the bookmakers but it wasn’t without its drama. A treble for the GOAT that is Frankie Dettori, a quickfire double for Kevin Stott and one of the biggest upsets in Royal Ascot history, Nando Parrado winning at 150/1. You couldn’t ask for a better way to finish a glorious festival.
A summary of the week and my personal highlights will be posted in the coming days!