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Hip hip but no hooray for Frankie in Ascot Gold Cup

By: Rolf Johnson   June 20 , 2022

With the Queen absent from the Platinum Jubilee Royal meeting commemorating the 70th year of Her Majesty`s reign, a crowd of 60,000 plus reserved hosannahs for their hero Dettori. Late on he brought Stradivarius wide to lay claim to a record equalling fourth Gold Cup crown on the third day, Thursday, of the five-day meeting.

It didn`t happen; the cheers died; Dettori and Stradivarius failed to peg back Coolmore`s Kyprios or second place finisher Mojo Star.

“Frankie over-complicated things,” was the muted response of frustrated trainer John Gosden.

Form is transient, class eternal is such a worn cliché and doesn`t do justice to Royal Ascot`s leading jockey Ryan Moore: styles, fashions, come and go, class and rhythm as exemplified by Moore are God`s gift. The former champion dominated the week with seven wins – he encouraged Kyprios to cover the last two furlongs of the two-and-a-half-mile marathon Gold Cup, almost as fast as sprint king Native Strip had over the final furlongs of his pulsating King`s Stand Stakes (Group 1) sprint on the first day, Tuesday.

Moore`s Coolmore bosses can relax; they remain in the history books as the only connections to have won four Gold Cups with one horse – Yeats. Their jockey`s tour de force on Kyprios was matched on the final day, Saturday, by Moore`s all the way dictation of the Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2) on Broome.

Stradivarius heads for stud – which given the coltish hollering of his last goodbye as he was led away, the eight-year-old can`t wait to begin his new career!

Frankie Dettori blinked again, blinding his mount when he failed to discard Lord North`s hood with alacrity at the start of the Hardwicke. And when he twice finished runner-up on mounts for the Queen, in the service of a less indulgent monarch he might have found himself in the Royal ‘sin bin` - the Tower of London.

Redemption came on the fourth day, Friday, of the world`s most prestigious (even if the £8.65m prize money doesn`t make it the richest) race meeting, with the help of a true champion, last year`s top juvenile filly Inspiral. Her Group One Coronation Stakes was the first victory of the week for Frankie, and her sire Frankel.

Inspiral had missed the first half of this season yet won this mile fillies` championship race so easily the second half of 2022 stretches ahead of her as a red carpet to her own coronation.

And then Moore topped the week`s other handicap performances threading topweight Rohaan through twenty-five rivals to repeat last year`s victory in the Wokingham sprint.

When Dettori isn`t smiling – his face after the Gold Cup was furrowed with despair – there is something drastically wrong. When Ryan smiles (rarely) something has gone drastically right: his grin, returning to the scales on Rohaan, was a collector`s item.

Crowds of over a quarter of a million over the five days sweltered under Indian Invitation Cup temperatures for this most prestigious of race meetings. Horrors, it was so steamy on the Friday men were allowed to discard their jackets and top hats! (Women in hot pants will never be allowed entry. I loosened my beloved Indian Invitation Cup tie emblazoned with the crests of the India`s Race Clubs).

Ascot has entered the modern world and the time is long past when applications for Royal Enclosure badges went into three baskets marked “Certainly”, “Perhaps” and Certainly Not”. Abandoned too the stricture of divorcees refused admission: had it not been, the Royal Enclosure would have to post “Vacancies” signs.

Instead the Royal Enclosure was packed with glitz and glamour released after three years of Covid restrictions. It must be said the owner of the Wokingham winner walked a fine line when, in his over-excited post-race interview he said this victory “topped my wedding day and the birth of my children.” He can be excused.

And the owner of the winner of the Chesham Stakes (Listed) was entitled to his moment of emotional release since Holloway Bay was his first runner in his colours. The entry made for his unraced two-year-old colt had been so speculative he hadn`t time to hire top hat and tails.

Holloway Boy, 40-1, wasn`t the first two-year-old debutant to win at Royal Ascot: Chief Singer was half the odds when he took the 1983 Coventry Stakes. Connections knew what they`d got so when Lester Piggott asked Chief Singer`s jockey Ray Cochrane down at the start what he was doing on such a “big black oaf?” Cochrane replied, “Take a good look at his face because all you`ll see in the race is his arse.” And so it proved: Chief Singer went on to be top notch as may this year`s Coventry Stakes winner Bradsell.

He`d been an outrageously wide margin winner of his only previous outing and would have been a notable success – even if he had not also been leading lady rider Hollie Doyle`s third Royal Ascot career winner.

But the remarkable Doyle surpassed her own and all other previous female jockeys achievements when she won Sunday`s Group 1 Prix de Diane, the French Oaks on the John Gosden-trained Frankel filly Nashwa.

Hollie`s husband Tom Marquand finished seventh.

The first female rider to win a European classic Hollie had already created a precedent by finishing third in the Epsom Oaks on the same filly and she rode a perfect race on Nashwa to justify favouritism in the Diane – on the occasion of which French racing attempts to funnel all the ‘chic` of Royal Ascot into a single day at Chantilly.

Whether temperatures rising to over thirty degrees had any effect or not on the horses, certainly arriving from the Australian ‘winter` didn`t freeze Native Strip in the King`s Stand. Trained by the immortal Winx`s handler Chris Waller, Native Strip`s flying finish was a strong contender for the performance of the week though it also revived memories of and comparisons with the unbeaten Australian mare, Black Caviar urged on by the Aussie nation to her Royal Ascot victory ten years ago.

Things could hardly have gone better for Godolphin in the all-aged Group I Platinum Jubilee Sprint over six furlongs. How could that be might you ask when Godolphin`s 33-1 shot Naval Crown beat their 12-1 chance Creative Force – moreover last year the latter had beaten his stable companion when they were one-two as joint favourites for the meeting`s Jersey Stakes?

The difference this time is that Creative Force is now a gelding and Naval Crown is a colt. In taking this career defining event Naval Crown increased his stud value infinitely: for Creative Force it will be back to the constant grind of racing that geldings are obliged to tread.

If the Gold Cup was a truly abiding memory it was run close, far too close in this observer`s consciousness, by another episode in the perpetual controversy over reckless riding. On day one Paul Hanagan, in a ‘rush of blood`, allowed his mount The Ridler to carve up challengers in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes.

Hanagan transgressed the Rules, calculating – if that were possible in the heat of the moment – that a ban for a ‘professional foul` on his challengers was worth the risks: had he been a footballer he would have been ‘sent off`: had he been riding under other jurisdictions he and The Ridler would both have been thrown out.

In true British fashion, the matter will be debated ad nauseam – until we`re sick of it - without conclusion.

One irony; The Ridler`s trainer Richard Fahey had only recently dispensed, apparently permanently, with the services of his former stable jockey Hanagan. The northern trainer had another Ascot triumph when Perfect Power took the Group One Commonwealth Cup sprint for three-year-olds.

Hanagan had been Perfect Power`s jockey until French champion Christophe Soumillon got the leg up in last year`s Group One Prix Morny at Deauville. There`s no removing Soumillon now; he has mastered this hitherto fiery character (Perfect Power that is, not Richard Fahey).

The team were defeated in the Two Thousand Guineas where Perfect Power palpably didn`t stay the Rowley Mile. The winner of that classic, Coroebus, franked his position as top three-year-old miler in a brutal St James`s Palace Stakes (Group One) on the opening day.

Some reckon Coroebus could be a threat to Baaeed. Godolphin`s number one jockey William Buick deserted Coroebus in the Guineas for Native Trail. Acknowledging his error Buick, leading this year`s jockey`s championship by a good way, leapt back on for the St James`s Palace and he has never ridden a stronger finish. The proximity to one another of the first four home will encourage connections to take each other on again but if that choice is the Group One Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, then Baaeed`s presence will loom over them.

Baaeed`s trainer William Haggas has to find the right slot for Majloom. In the bunch finish to the St James`s Palace, German Guineas winner Majloom was a fast closing fourth - so fast that some thought Cieren Fallon was punching the air in victory celebration - when actually he was punching himself in the head for arriving too late!

Joseph O`Brien became the first person in history to ride both a Group One winner at the Royal meeting and then to train one. In 2012 he was aboard a horse regarded as the globetrotter supreme, New Zealand-bred So You Think in the Prince of Wales`s Stakes. And yet O`Brien`s State of Rest added this same Group One to races of similar stature in Australia, the USA and France.

Perhaps the true glory of Royal Ascot is that its international flavour complements its international stature. Most of the world`s major racing countries fielded runners. The five days of sport were broadcast to 170 countries, twenty-one of which embraced betting into the Tote World Pool.

As a result in this, the venture`s fourth year, Tote dividends, fertilized by punters worldwide, were way ahead of bookmaker`s starting prices - on all but one occasion out of the meeting`s thirty-five races.

Turnover in the World Pool was up over a third on last year at £168m; the largest amount on a single race, £6.6m, being bet on the Coronation Stakes. Both these figures set new records.

This innovative scheme is seemingly all about growing the figures - for now. In fact, given the contribution to racing the project promises to make, Tote World Pool can be the universal salvation of the sport; three cheers, hip hip hooray.

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Total Comments : 1
Posted by Murari on ( June 20 , 2022 )
Cochrane replied (to Piggott), “Take a good look at his face because all you`ll see in the race is his arse.”..... Hehe...That gave me a good laugh, Rolf.
Almost in the same class as Rodney Marsh saying to Botham... "How is your wife, and my kids?". And Botham`s even funnier reply... "The wife is fine, the kids are a little backward".
Yes I recall you showed me your Indian Invitation Cup tie, worn with great pride, at Goodwood a few weeks ago. I myself am partial to a yellow Ascot tie with lovely front on "two horses and jockeys" motifs.
Nice writeup, as always. Keep `em coming...

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