At Goffs’ London Sale, an annual event held on the eve of Royal Ascot, Srivaddhanaprabha bought tomorrow’s Sandringham Handicap prospect Tisbutadream (£400,000) from David Elsworth’s stable, andTwin Star (£260,000), the Sheila Lavery-trained gelding who runs in Thursday’s King George V Handicap. He also purchased three horses who will line up on Friday, namely Jessica Harrington’s Albany Stakes hopeful Whitefountainfairy (£300,000), the Michael O’Callaghan-trained Queen’s Vase contender Night Of Glory (£340,000), and Straight Right (£450,000), who will tackle the Commonwealth Cup for trainer Christophe Ferland.
Of the 19 horses offered at the event, 12 changed hands and Srivaddhanaprabha bought half, for he also added the broodmare Baldovina, the dam of Royal Ascot winner Ceiling Kitty. Baldovina was offered by Betfair founder Andrew Black of Chasemore Farm who sold her with a filly foal by Commonwealth Cup winner Muhaarar and carrying a foal by Le Havre.
When Baldovina’s £300,000 sale was added to Srivaddhanaprabha’s purchases, his total spend came to £2,050,000, which compares to overall turnover at the event of £4,525,000. Head of the King Power Group, which operates duty free shops, his horses run in the name of Abudiencia Co Ltd, and include the Andrew Balding-trained Beat The Bank, who has been declared for tomorrow’sGr.3 Jersey Stakes
Quoted in today’s European Bloodstock News, Alastair Donald, a bloodstock agent who acted for Srivaddhanaprabha, said of his client: “He’s looking to build up his stable, and was attracted by the Royal Ascot element of this sale. He likes horses in general, is very keen on polo, and spends a lot of time in Britain – he’s enjoyed being at this sale and getting involved.
“His purchases today will stay with their trainers for this week and then decisions will be made about their futures.”
The top lot proved to be the William Haggas-trained Lockheed, who was bought by Australian bloodstock agent Chris McAnulty on behalf of a Hong Kong client, but the buyer said the three-year-old colt would not take up his entry in Thursday’s Hampton Court Stakes.
Also bound for Hong Kong is Born To Play, who had entries at Royal Ascot on Thursday for Joseph Murphy’s stable, but will not run. He was bought for £500,000 by another Australian agent, Justin Bahen.
UNIQUE, BUT SOMETHING FOR ALL
Royal, but definitely an occasion for all the people, this week’s sporting highlight at Ascot is one of Britain’s most dazzling sporting jewels.
As such it is a magnet for the press. Lee Mottershead, writing in today’s Racing Post, describes Royal Ascot as “gloriously unique”, adding: “[it is] a vignette of England as it once was and as it seemingly remains.” Ed Chamberlin, ITV racing’s front man, and a guest columnist in today’s The Daily Telegraph, writes: “Like nowhere else, is how Royal Ascot describes itself, and I wholeheartedly agree . . . it all adds up to the ultimate staying test for a presenter. I cannot wait.”
The Times‘ Giles Smith ponders what lies ahead for ITV in its first taste of Royal Ascot broadcasting, and the accompanying headline sums up a conundrum: ‘ITV’s braved monsoons and gales, but now the real test: top hats in a heatwave’.
Reflecting on the head-to-head clashes that will illuminate the action, Mottershead adds: “The St James’s Palace showdown should be a humdinger,” a reference to the clash between 2,000 Guineas winner Churchill and runner-up Barney Roy. ‘Churchill’s finest hour,’ is the Daily Star‘s take on the front of its Royal Ascot special racing pullout. The paper’s Patrick Weaver writes: “It should be another V for victory moment for Churchill.” The colt’s jockey, Ryan Moore, gives his views via a Betfair-sponsored column in the Daily Express, in which he says: “He is one of those horses that make it easy for a jockey.”
Rob Wright of The Times reckons Barney Roy will gain revenge, writing: “Still open to plenty of improvement after just three starts, he can reverse the Guineas form.” Sam Turner of the Daily Mail agrees, although colleague Marcus Townend sides with Churchill – the Daily Mail‘s racing coverage goes slightly off-piste in a colourful spread of photos of HM The Queen under the headline, ‘How about hat then?’. Each shot is accompanied by Ladbrokes’ odds of the colour the monarch will choose for her opening-day hat – blue is 2/1, orange 16/1, black 20/1 and a crown 1,000/1.
The Guardian‘s Greg Wood had The Queen in mind when penning his column, although it centres on Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin organisation. Wood quotes Her Majesty recently speaking of the “very sombre national mood” following a sequence of shocking and sad events. In light of such despair a race meeting is inconsequential, says Wood, but he concludes: “But if it is a distraction, too, albeit briefly, The Queen is not the only one who will be grateful for that.”
The Sun uses day one of the Royal Meeting to launch a new column, so herald The Tipstress, which the paper says is ‘Sunracing’s racy new tipster, ready to whip the bookies this week . . . let’s hit the layers where it hurts.’ Churchill is one Tipstress tip, while her suggestion that T For Tango can take the closing Windsor Castle Stakes is based on the premise that: “He looked a real red-blooded lad on debut.”
Feisty Michelle Payne, the Australian jockey who gained as much fame from her comments following the 2015 Melbourne Cup as she did from winning it, rides Kaspersky in today’s opening Queen Anne Stakes. Her presence gives the media a welcome, opening-day angle, and she gives a revealing interview to Oliver Brown in The Daily Telegraph.
Being the youngest of 10 children, and losing her mother when she was six months old, undoubtedly shaped Payne, but her race-aftermath announcement that critics of women jockeys should ‘get stuffed’ was one of spontaneity. She tells Brown: “It’s nothing I regret. Watching female jockeys ride, the good ones are so beautifully balanced. I can’t understand how trainers don’t see that.”
The Daily Star also devotes space to Payne, although the liberal coverage of her British racing debut raises a question of accuracy in the paper’s assertion that its interview is an ‘exclusive’ by reporter Chris Goulding. The I‘s Payne profile includes her words: “It made a lot of people realised we can compete with the boys at the top level, but I still feel there’s a long way to go.”
Payne also features in a David Yates interview in the Daily Mirror, in which she speaks of being a role model for young people. Another female star, the American sprinter Lady Aurelia who runs in today’s King’s Stand Stakes, features in Yates’ other guise as the Daily Mirror‘s tipster Newsboy. ‘First Lady’ is the headline on the front of the paper’s racing pullout.
The Racing Post‘s bloodstock writer James Thomas brings news of a non-runner at Royal Ascot. Reporting from Goffs London Sale, held yesterday evening at Kensington Palace, he tells how the William Haggas-trained Lockheed topped the event with a £900,000 price tag, although the Hong Kong buyer intended to rest his purchase before flying him to the Far East. On a Lockheed-engined jet, perhaps?
*Either Michelle Payne or Megan Nicholls could today become only the second woman to ride a Royal Ascot winner. Melbourne Cup heroine Payne rides Kaspersky for Jane Chapple-Hyam in the Group One Queen Anne Stakes (2.30pm), while Megan Nicholls will be aboard High Secret, trained by her father, 10-time champion National Hunt trainer Paul Nicholls, for whom this is a first Royal Ascot runner. The only female jockey to score at Royal Ascot so far is Gay Kelleway, who rode Sprowston Boy to victory in the Queen Alexandra Stakes in 1987.
*Aidan O’Brien jointly holds the record for the most winners at the meeting (seven, 2016) with the late Sir Henry Cecil (seven, 1987). O’Brien has nine runners at Royal Ascot today, commencing with Cougar Mountain and Deauville in the opening Queen Anne Stakes at 2.30pm.
*The strength of the American challenge at Royal Ascot is greater than ever. There are six US-trained runners today: American Patriot (Todd Pletcher, Queen Anne Stakes), Miss Temple City (Graham Motion, Queen Anne Stakes), Arawak (Wesley Ward, Coventry Stakes), Lady Aurelia (Wesley Ward, King’s Stand Stakes), Elizabeth Darcy (Wesley Ward, Windsor Castle Stakes) and Nootka Sound (Wesley Ward, Windsor Castle Stakes).
*If Godolphin secures a Royal Ascot winner today, it would be an appropriate way to mark 40 years to the day since Sheikh Mohammed’s first success as an owner (Hatta, Brighton, June 20, 1987). Ten runners will carry the Godolphin royal blue silks today.
*If Churchill takes the St James’s Palace Stakes today, the Galileo colt will become the fourth horse trained by Aidan O’Brien to win the 2000 Guineas, Irish 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes, following Rock Of Gibraltar (2002), Henrythenavigator (2008) and Gleneagles (2015).
*Sir Michael Stoute could become Royal Ascot’s winning-most trainer tomorrow. He and the late Sir Henry Cecil currently hold the record with 75 Royal Ascot successes apiece. Sir Michael has five runners declared for Wednesday (June 21).
*Australian trainers have won the King’s Stand Stakes four times since 2003 (Choisir, 2003, Takeover Target 2006, Miss Andretti 2007, Scenic Blast 2009), but today Wesley Ward attempts to be the first American trainer to take the five-furlong Group One with Lady Aurelia, who won the 2016 Queen Mary Stakes over the same distance.