Royal Ascot: Japan heads star cast for one of the races of the week
Photo: Mark Cranham/focusonracing.com
Courtesy of Nicholas Godfrey of Thoroughbred Racing Commentary
Wednesday’s Group 1 highlight at Royal Ascot is the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, the fourth race on a seven-race card at this supersized behind-closed-doors version of Britiain’s most prestigious meeting.
Upgraded to G1 status in 2000, this 1m2f event for 4-year-olds and upwards is the second Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ Challenge contest at Royal Ascot this week; it is also part of the British Champions Series.
It is often the number one race of the entire meeting in terms of pure quality (and habitually achieves the highest ratings). Like all G1s at the five-day meeting, prize-money has been cut to £250,000 owing to coronavirus belt-tightening.
Prince of Wales’s Stakes: a bit of context
History: established 1862, named after the son of Queen Victoria (later to become King Edward VII). Discontinued after WW2, re-emerged in 1968, the year before current Prince of Wales’s investiture.
Star turn: Dubai Millennium (2000) – magnificent eight-length victory under U.S. legend Jerry Bailey (Frankie Dettori was still sidelined after his plane crash) on final start of Dubai World Cup hero’s injury-abbreviated career, in which he was beaten only once in ten starts.
Most wins (trainer): John Porter (8) Ossory (1888), Watercress (1892), Matchmaker (1895), Shaddock (1896), Manners (1899), Simon Dale (1900), Rydal Head (1904), Plum Centre (1905).
Modern era (since 1973): Sir Henry Cecil (5) Lucky Wednesday (1977), Gunner B (1978), Perpendicular (1992), Placerville (1993), Bosra Sham (1997)
Most wins (jockey): Morny Cannon (6) Matchmaker (1895), Shaddock (1896), Manners (1899), Simon Dale (1900), Rydal Head (1904), Plum Centre (1905).
Modern era (since 1973): Pat Eddery (5) Record Run (1975), English Spring (1986), Two Timing (1989), Batshoof (1990), Placerville (1993)
Breeders’ Cup Challenge
The winner of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes will receive an automatic fees-paid berth in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at the two-day championships at Keeneland on November 6-7. A minimum travel allowance of $40,000 will also be provided for all starters based outside North America; the Challenge winner must already be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup programme or nominated by the pre-entry deadline of October 26 to receive the rewards.
Already qualified (1): Nao Do Mais (GP Carlos Pellegrini, San Isidro, Argentina)
Breeders’ Cup past performance
Fantastic Light (2001) beat the previous year’s BC Turf winner Kalanisi in the Prince of Wales’s before going on to win at Belmont Park. However, this Royal Ascot contest has often produced runners for other BC races, among them Ouija Board (2006), who scored here before claiming the Filly & Mare Turf for the second time.
Duke Of Marmalade (2006) finished down the field when tried on synthetics in the Classic, while fellow Aidan O’Brien-trained winner Highland Reel (2017) was a beaten favourite in the Turf when third to Talismanic at Del Mar; he had won the race 12 months previously at Santa Anita.
Magical, second to Crystal Ocean in last year’s Prince of Wales’s, had filled the same spot against Enable in the 2018 BC Turf; Crystal Ocean, for his part, had been retired through injury by the time last year’s Breeders’ Cup came around.
Top contenders for 2020
Japan (Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore) – expected to take high rank among middle-distance division as a 4yo after pair of G1 wins last term, including Juddmonte International; also won G2 King Edward VII at Royal Ascot.
Barney Roy (Charlie Appleby/William Buick) – G1 winner at this meeting in 2017 for former trainer Richard Hannon before abortive stud career; back in training last year and looked as good as ever in two wins at Dubai Carnival.
Headman (Roger Charlton/Jason Watson) – seasonal debut for highly-rated type who recorded hat-trick last summer, including pair of G2 wins in France.
Addeybb (William Haggas/Tom Marquand) – soft-ground performer won Wolferton Stakes at this meeting in 2018 and then beaten only three-quarters of a length by Magical over course and distance in Champion Stakes before leaving mark on global stage this spring with pair of G1 victories in Sydney, including Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
What they say
• William Haggas, trainer of Addeybb: “Addeybb will go if the word ‘soft’ appears in the going. He is on course to go but I am not going to run him on fastish ground. There is rain about, so we will see where we are; the ground has been very dry for his training. He is fit and full of life and moving well.”
• Jason Watson, jockey of Headman: “I’ve always loved this horse. He’s one of my favourites for sure. He was a big horse last year and he’s an even bigger horse now; he’s strengthened up even more – it’s scary how powerful he is. You could really see last year how much he was growing up and he’s a very exciting horse.”
• John Gosden, trainer of Mehdaayih: “We purposely did not give her a prep run at Haydock the other day as she's a light-framed filly who runs well fresh.” (speaking to the the Racing Post)
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