Saturday’s feature at Royal Ascot was the Group I Golden Jubilee Stakes, a 1200-metre event. Given Group I status in 2002, the Golden Jubilee commemorates the 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s ascent to the English throne. The Golden Jubilee is now part of the Global Sprint Challenge. At 2 P M, the Royal procession began for the fifth and final time in 2010. The Saturday crowd was bigger than usual given the fact that well-backed horses had kept the fans in business through the week.
There were 24 runners in the Golden Jubilee and it was Starspangledbanner, an Australian import, who was the rage in the waning minutes. Bet down to 13/2 joint favoritism, Starspangledbanner, an Aidan O’Brien pupil and the mount of John Murtagh, darted to the top. Racing on the rails’ side, Starspangledbanner made it all to win by a length and three quarters. The time was a sparkling 1 12.57 seconds.
Twice winner at Group I level in Australia, Starspangledbanner was fourth in the Duke of York Stakes in May. A comment from trainer O’Brien that the July Cup is on the agenda prompted William Hill to make Starspangledbanner the 9-2 favorite for the race.
Aidan O’Brien did not make an attempt to conceal his enthusiasm. “It was unbelievable. His work has been incredible. He is the fastest horse we have had and the July Cup is the plan.”
That was John Murtagh’s third Royal Ascot win. He stated, “Aidan was very confident coming into this race. He said just jump out and use his stride. Don’t be anxious, go a furlong and it worked out perfect.”
Zaidan took a long lead and lasted in the 1400-metre Chesham Stakes. Seb Sanders was aboard Zaidan, a Clive Brittain trainee and a 7-1 chance.
The Hardwicke Stakes, a 2400-metre contest, was won by Harbinger, the 8-11 favorite. Harbinger was third coming into the turn and sailed away when let go by Ryan Moore. Eleven ran. Speculation began about Harbinger going in the King George Queen Elizabeth Stakes in late July at Ascot but there has been no confirmation yet. Harbinger gave Ryan Moore his third win at Royal Ascot.
Next came the Golden Jubilee Stakes and John Murtagh drew level 3-3 with his win on Starspangledbanner.
Despite being off for 610 days, Laddies Poker Two, from Jeremy Noseda’s yard, was the 9-2 favorite in the 1200-metre Wokingham Stakes. A 16-1 chance on Tuesday and Wednesday, Laddies Poker Two could be bet at 10-1 on High Street on Saturday morning. Betting shops open (with exceptions) at 9 A M in London and close at 9 30 P M. It was a 27-horse field. A mare coming back from an extended period on the shelf and in a 27-runner race-these two compelling facts did not deter the fans. It was a gamble of unbelievable proportions. Betting has a bandwagon effect.
A grey who could be identified easily, Laddies Poker Two left nothing to chance. There were no questions where the favorite lay. John Murtagh had the Noseda-trained mare at the head of affairs and the Wokingham was put to bed a long way from home. The winning margin was two and one half lengths. Laddies Poker Two clocked 1 12.27 seconds, faster than Starspangledbanner, a Group I winner.
John Murtagh had taken a 4-3 lead over Ryan Moore. There were two races left in the Royal meeting. Imposing, Moore up, was the 7-4 favorite in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap. It was a 2400-metre race. As hard as Imposing and Moore tried, they could not get the better of Cill Rialaig, a 16-1 chance, trained by Hugh Morrison and ridden by Steve Drowne. Seventeen ran and Cill Rialaig won by a neck.
The Queen Alexandra, a 4300-metre race, came up. The curtain was coming down on Royal Ascot. Eighteen ran. The big question was if jockey Moore will be able to win and tie John Murtagh and if he did, he would be crowned champion rider. Moore had five runner-up efforts and Murtagh had four.
Bergo, a 10-1 chance trained by Ryan’s father, G L Moore, was in striking range and struck the front midway down the stretch. The marathon was run in four minutes 47.79 seconds.
Ryan Moore had tied John Murtagh. The better bridesmaid number made Ryan the top jockey at Royal Ascot 2010. All week long, Moore stayed the favorite and produced enough when needed.
Jockey Moore has often been charged with being irreverent. I have spoken to Ryan Moore. He is a ‘matter of fact’ person. He shows enough courtesy. I would say that he does not exercise enough care in the choice of words.
While accepting the Arora Hotels Trophy, sponsored by a hotel group, Ryan Moore made a statement that did not go down well with the British media. “Winning this jockeys’ title does not mean a lot to me personally but I am delighted to ride a winner for my dad. This is the biggest week in racing and it is very competitive and hard to win. The traditions are nice and everyone is dressed up. It is not my kind of thing but people enjoy it.”
Richard Hannon was top trainer with three wins and five seconds. Aidan O’Brien, after drawing blank the first three days, ended up with a 3-2 score.
A great deal has been said about the plight of the bookmakers. Here are some numbers. Thirteen favorites won. There were thirty races over five days. Only six horses won with odds longer than 10-1. Thirteen favorites in 30 races would make it a 43% strike rate. That exceeds the traditional 37% rate.
It has been estimated that the bookmaking fraternity lost 50 million pounds. I am reproducing two quotes from two spokesmen for two bookmakers.
Ladbrokes’s David Williams said, “every single day, the punters have given us a right royal bashing. Nobody at Royal Ascot can remember a meeting in which we have suffered such punishment. We can’t wait to get out of Royal Berkshire so we can lick our wounds in a darkened room.”
Coral spokesman, Dave Stevens, also spoke. “What is it about Royal Ascot? For some bookies, the five consecutive losing days in 2010, will make the famous Dettori day look like a round of drinks.”
Here is more news about Maxime Guyon. He went to Switzerland to ride in the Swiss Derby on Sunday. The track’s name was Frauenfeld. The name of the race was the Davidoff 30. Swiss Derby, a 2400-metre race open to colts and fillies. Brigantin, an Andre Fabre trainee, won with Maxime Guyon. Is an owner in India thinking of asking Guyon to come to Bangalore?
On Saturday, Chris Hayes rode Celtic Dance, a 12-1 chance, to victory at Down Royal in a 2600-metre race. Hayes won in a photo finish. Celtic Dane is trained by Kevin Pendergast. The Ulster Derby was worth 42,000 Euros to the winner.
Christophe Soumillon won a jumps race at Auteuil in France on Saturday. Mandali, a 11-2 proposition, won by a wide margin. The race was over three miles and one half furlongs. It was a Grade I race on the grass. It was the Grande Course De Haies D’Auteuil. That was Soumillon’s first jumps win.
Silvestre de Sousa had a double at Redcar Saturday afternoon. He won the first race with Tinkertown, the even money choice. He won the second race as well with the 15-8, Simple Jim.
Richard Hughes was plying his trade at Lingfield’s twilight meeting on Saturday. Hughes won three races. He won the 6 20 P M race with Poppy Seed, the 1-6 favorite. Poppy Seed is trained by Richard Hannon. Hughes won the 7 20 P M race with Roman Glory, at 8-1 and trained by B J Meehan. The third win for Hughes came in the 7 50 P M race with Frameit, a 3-1 chance trained by J S Moore.
On Saturday at Colonial Downs in Virginia, Kent Desormeaux steered Paddy O’Prado to a popular win in the Colonial Turf Cup. It was a $500,000 Grade I race over 1900 metres. Paddy O’Prado was third in the Derby and finished sixth in the Preakness and will now be campaigned on the grass.
Dale Romans, the winning trainer, commented. “Paddy O’Prado ran a spectacular race. He is an exciting racehorse. He does things so well, just the way he does it.”