Things We Learned » Dust settled
Now that the dust has settled on another Royal Ascot, you can take the time to reflect. Once again, it was another phenomenal week, a week of top class racing with several outstanding performances – Lady Aurelia and Order Of St George at the top – and many others that promised more.
It was another week of records for Ireland. Ten Irish-trained winners was a record, and seven for Aidan O’Brien equalled the late Sir Henry Cecil’s post-war total, set in 1987. Actually, in the last two days of the meeting, on Friday and Saturday, Aidan O’Brien had four winners, two seconds and two thirds.
Those seven winners took the Royal Ascot tally for Ireland’s perennial champion trainer through the 50 mark up to 55, which is within hailing distance of the record 75 that is now jointly held by the afore-mentioned Sir Henry Cecil and, after he had sent out The Queen’s Dartmouth to win the Hardwicke Stakes, Sir Michael Stoute.
The other three Irish-trained winners were Royal Ascot firsts all round. Portage was a first for Michael Halford, Jennies Jewel was a first for Jarlath Fahey, Commissioned was a first for Gordon Elliott. And others ran well in defeat, like Twilight Payment and Psychedelic Funk and The Gurkha and Awtaad and Ebediyin and Diamond Fields and Found and Alice Springs and Highland Reel. Some week.
Rules in question once again
Once again, the rules of racing came into question in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap on Friday.
There was a wholly unsatisfactory conclusion to this race. There is no doubt that Kings Fete was making ground when he was squeezed out of it inside the final furlong. We don’t know for sure that he would have won, but all the indications are that it is probable that he would have. There was the visual evidence, and there was the market evidence.
These things do not always work out, but the fact that Ryan Moore’s mount traded at 1.26 in-running, just over 1/4, tells you that, at the point at which he was hampered, the market determined that he was far more likely to win than he was to lose.
It was a top ride by Fran Berry on Kinema, he rode to the edge of the rules, but there are many questions that this incident threw up. Here are five of them. One, where was the incentive for Fran Berry on Kinema to take corrective action when, according to the rules as they stand, he was long odds-on to keep the race if he passed the post first? Two, how do justify giving the rider a seven-day ban for careless riding when he was allowed keep the race?
Three, if Kings Fete had finished second and not third, was there a greater chance that the winner would have been thrown out? Four, how is it that, according to the rules as they stand, the only action open to the stewards was to disqualify Kinema, thereby awarding the race to runner-up Elite Army, when third-placed Kings Fete was the one who was wronged?
And five, most importantly, we have been here before on many occasions in the recent past, so why has a full-scale review of the rules of racing not been undertaken?
It is a pity that US Army Ranger scoped poorly during the week. It would have been great to have the 1-2-3 from Epsom battling it out once more in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby this afternoon.
Hopefully Harzand takes his chance now because, to lose one Epsom Derby horse may be regarded as a misfortune, but to lose two, well that would just be really misfortunate.
Unsurprisingly, the Epsom Derby winner has a good record in the Irish Derby. Australia did the double, Camelot did the double. Only two have done the double in the last 10 years, but only three have tried. And interestingly, all four of HH The Aga Khan’s Epsom Derby winners – Shergar, Shahrastani, Kahyasi and Sinndar – have attempted the double, and all four have succeeded. That all augurs well for Harzand.
Horses to note
There were obvious horses to note from Royal Ascot, like Caravaggio and Qemah and Thikriyaat and Alice Springs, and there were less obvious horses, like Shared Equity and Arthenus.
Shared Equity raced up with the pace on the far side in the Wokingham Handicap, a race in which it was probably an advantage to race in rear and on the near side. He is a prominent racer, and he will do better on a more speed-favouring track. He is one for one at York, and he ran a big race on his only try at Goodwood, so he will be of interest when he returns to one of those tracks.
Arthenus raced in rear in the Wolferton Handicap, he raced wide into the home straight, but he finished off his race well to take fourth place. He saw out the 10 furlongs well on his first attempt at the trip, he responded well to his first-time cheekpieces, and he will be of interest again, especially on easy ground.
There are others too. It should be well worth spending some time going through those recordings.
On Thursday, Brexit (the filly) was sent off at 6/1 and lost while, later in the day, Brexit (the real one, the scary one with all the unknowns) was allowed drift to 7/1, and ultimately won. Just shows you.
© The Irish Field, 25th June 2016