Jockey Ryan Moore (right) won the Gold Cup on the Queen's horse Estimate in 2013
|Royal Ascot 2016|
|Date: 14-18 June Coverage: BBC 5 live and 5 live Sports Extra |
There's probably no 90th birthday present the Queen would rather receive than success in a race at her beloved Royal Ascot.
first attending in 1947, she's been an enthusiastic participant in the
biggest flat-racing week of the year, as a racehorse owner and breeder
and simply as a fan of the sport, arriving amid the famous pomp and
circumstance of the horse-drawn carriage procession down the course.
60-plus years, the Royal silks have been carried to victory 22 times, a
list started by Choir Boy in the Royal Hunt Cup of 1953.
The mare Estimate was the most recent addition after a breathless win in the 2013 Gold Cup, when her owner became the first reigning monarch to taste victory in the historic centrepiece race, first staged in 1807.
expected there will be up to half a dozen Royal runners this year,
including the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Dartmouth, a fast-improving
winner at Chelmsford City and Chester during the spring, and fancied for
the Hardwicke Stakes on the fifth and final day.
But the Queen
won't be the only member of the Royal family chasing a slice of the
record £6.58m prize money, spread across the 30 races. Prince Charles
and the Duchess of Cornwall are due to have Carn Top (second in the
Lingfield Derby Trial) and Pacify - both bred by them and trained by
Ralph Beckett - in action during the week.
Ryan Moo A reluctant hero
A spectacular nine-winner spree at Royal Ascot 2015
by jockey Ryan Moore made him the most successful rider at a single
modern-day staging of the flat racing fixture, breaking the record of
eight previously held by Lester Piggott (1965, 1975) and Pat Eddery
However, three-time champion Moore plays down any talk of
comparisons between himself and two of racing's great jockeys, saying
their achievements were "in different eras, on different days, at
This time, some of the week's most
sought-after mounts will once again be taken by the 32-year-old, many of
them in the ownership of the Irish-based Coolmore racing operation and
trained by Aidan O'Brien, notably the French 2000 Guineas winner The
Gurkha in day one's St James Palace's Stakes.
Moore is also
dismissive of any suggestion he could surpass last year's total,
describing his book of rides - The Gurkha apart - as "solid…there's
nothing like last year". That said, he's hot favourite to be leading
rider ahead of changing-room colleagues Frankie Dettori and James Doyle.
It's O'Brien and son
years after his first-ever winner at Royal Ascot, in 1997, Aidan
O'Brien is already within touching distance of reaching his half
But as the trainer of stars including St James's Palace
Stakes winners Giant's Causeway, Rock Of Gibraltar and Gleneagles, and
four-time Gold Cup hero Yeats, prepares to challenge with another
powerful raiding party, he faces potential competition from very close
to his own home.
O'Brien's 23-year-old son Joseph, once jockey of
choice for his father's powerful string, is now a rival having taken
out a trainer's licence of his own.
He made an instant impact with four successes on his very first day, one of which saw him defeat a runner of his Dad's.
first Royal Ascot skirmish will come on Day One when both County
Tipperary-based Aidan and Joseph, who's operating from the family farm
in County Kilkenny, have runners in the Coventry Stakes and then the
Windsor Castle Stakes.
Meanwhile, O'Brien senior's best chances
of reaching the 50 could be The Gurkha - well-touted for the clash
against fellow Guineas winners Galileo Gold (Newmarket) and Awtaad
(Irish) in the St James's Palace Stakes - Found (Prince of Wales's
Stakes, Wednesday) and Order Of St George in Thursday's Gold Cup.
Mongolia head overseas challenge
From endurance ponies to champion sprinter, the Mongolians are coming.
expected six countries apart from Britain and Ireland will be
represented as Royal Ascot continues to hold its own as one of global
flat racing's go-to destinations.
Just the one runner from
Australia - the sprinter Holler - is perhaps a bit of a disappointment,
but organisers say they're delighted at the high-calibre level of
contenders from Hong Kong, Japan (including brilliant Prince of Wales
Stakes hope A Shin Hikari) and the US, as well as France and hopefully
From the US, Tepin is a major player in the opening Queen
Anne Stakes, Miss Temple City will have plenty of supporters in the
Duke of Cambridge Stakes (day two) and trainer Wesley Ward is looking
for back-to-back victories in the fifth day-feature, the Diamond Jubilee
Stakes, with Undrafted.
But no overseas challenger will make more of impression than sprinter Mongolian Saturday, plus those around him.
six-year-old challenger for Tuesday's Kings Stand Stakes, and possibly
the Diamond Jubilee Stakes too, is trained in America, but by a
Mongolian, Enebish Ganbat, and the horse's owner is a fellow countryman
and multi-millionaire businessman, Ganbaatar Dagvadorj.
their friends turn up at the races in national dress, including Genghis
Khan-style cone-shaped hat and colourful tunic; it's within Ascot's
famously strict dress code, although the outfits clearly surprised
locals at the Breeders' Cup in Kentucky last autumn, where Mongolian
Saturday won the Turf Sprint, as the entourage were mistaken for being
part of Hallowe'en celebrations.
Ganbat, who used to train
endurance ponies that raced for miles across the rugged Mongol terrain,
believes the horse he calls "Champion" can achieve a top-three finish,
after which he hopes to meet the Queen.
He told BBC Sport: "I
like the English Queen because England and Japan are two of the few
countries who keep Kings [monarchy]. I like this because this is
tradition and tradition is very important - England is an old
traditional country, [the] same [as] Mongolia."
Asked about his
runner's chances, he added: "I think he has a chance of coming in first,
second or third. It's a dream, a long-time dream."
Frankel's the Daddy
his unbeaten racing days, champion racehorse Frankel, trained by Sir
Henry Cecil and ridden by Tom Queally, wowed two Royal Ascots with
success in the St James's Palace Stakes - just - in 2011 and, a year
later, in the Queen Anne Stakes, that time with a stunning display.
his retirement later that year, the winner of 14 races from 14 starts
has set about passing on his brilliance to future generations as a
stallion, and has made a stunning start, with all but one of his progeny
that have raced so far not just winning, but doing so impressively.
this year's Royal meeting, Frankel, still owned by Saudi prince Khalid
Abdullah and commanding fees of £125,000 for a mating, is set to be
represented by Newbury winner Cunco in the Chesham Stakes (Saturday) and
by Queen Kindly, his first daughter to be successful, in the Queen Mary
Stakes on day two.