British-bred BILLESDON BROOK (GB) caused a 66-1 upset in Sunday’s QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket when striding a length and three-quarters clear under Sean Levey.
Richard Hannon’s filly, sired by CHAMPS ELYSEES (GB), comes from Jeanette McCreery’s Stowell Hill Stud in Somerset and her large ownership syndicate Pall Mall Partners was set up by McCreery’s late husband Bob, a renowned figure in the bloodstock industry who bred the likes of OLD VIC (GB) and GALE FORCE TEN (GB).
Stowell Hill Stud held a double hand of graduates in the 1000 Guineas as ANNA NERIUM (GB) also featured, racing in Jeanette’s colours. Earlier in the card a half-sister to the 1000 Guineas winner, BILLESDON BESS (GB) finished sixth in the G2 Dahlia Stakes. A fantastic day for the Somerset base on such a high profile day in the racing calendar.
Jeanette comments; “It’s amazing to come here today with three homebred fillies–two half-sisters and an aunt. We’ve had a lot of fun and we’re all friends–no-one is fighting! There are 20 of us in the group, they haven’t had to put much in but they’ve had a lot out of it. We meet up and watch the horses work and it’s been terrific. Until Anna Nerium ran so well at the Cravenmeeting, Ithoughtthis was the winner butI wastold the other one was stronger. I was so busy watching Anna Neriumthat I didn’t even really notice what Billesdon Brook was doing.”
BILLESDON BROOK is out of their homebred MANDURO mare COPLOW (GB), who has also produced Listed winner BILLESDON BESS (GB). Another half-sister, by Whitsbury Manor Stud’s SHOWCASING (GB), was sold to John Gosden for 380,000gns at Book 2 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale last year. COPLOW has also produced a yearling filly by SEPOY.
The Classic winner scored three times as a juvenile, including in the Gr3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood, and had finished fourth on her seasonal reappearance in the Nell Gwyn Stakes.
Sandy Kilpatrick, who is involved in the Pall Mall Partners, said: “She was quite a good two-year-old, she ran eight times, and her half-sister Billesdon Bess is also quite good. But it’s all really down to Bob and Jeanette McCreery, the two Richard Hannons and the whole team at Herridge. I’m thrilled to be part of it.”
Richard Hannon added: “There was nothing flukey about it, all our Guineas winners have needed a run and today she looked great. It’s so nice for this big syndicate, and people who have been in the game a long time.”
A Near miss for British-bred TIP TWO WIN (GB)
It would be remiss of us not to mention the admirable runner-up performance of TIP TWO WIN (GB) in the 2000 Guineas on Saturday.
By DARK ANGEL out of FREDDIE’S GIRL, TIP TWO WIN is the first horse to have been bred by Anne Cowley out of her three-times winning mare FREDDIE’S GIRL who has also produced a yearling half-brother by MASTERCRAFTSMAN and delivered a filly by The GURKHA earlier this year.
Owner-breeder Anne Cowley admits she “never dreamed” of breeding racehorses let alone one as talented as the Roger Teal trained TIP TWO WIN.
Staged from Tuesday, June 19th to Saturday, June 23th, inclusive, Royal Ascot 2018 offers record prize money over the five days of £7,305,000.
Nick Smith, Director of Racing and Communications at Ascot, commented today: “We’re very pleased with the variety and quality of the Royal Ascot entries this year.
“Seven countries, including Britain, are represented, and amongst them a Hong Kong Chairman’s Sprint Prize winner, two US-trained Breeders’ Cup winners and a dual winner of the Group One Newmarket Handicap in Australia.
Read on for a race by race guide of the Group 1 races to feature throughout the week.
Tuesday, June 19th, 2018
Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, straight mile (36 entries)
Royal Ascot starts with the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, one of three top flight races on the opening day.
US representation at entry stage comes from Yoshida, trained by Bill Mott and owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International Ltd, SF Racing LLC and Head of Plains.
Mott, revealed: “Yoshida is in lovely form. He had a great year in 2017 and he won well at Belmont in the Group 3 Hill Prince Stakes on his last run.
“I have been very happy with how he has wintered and we are strongly considering heading to Royal Ascot for the Queen Anne Stakes.
“We had a runner at Royal Ascot last year (Long On Value, finished 12th in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes) and everyone at Ascot took really good care of us”.
Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes, five furlongs (43 entries)
The first of the two Group 1 sprints staged at Royal Ascot is the £500,000 King’s Stand Stakes over five furlongs on the opening day.
The King’s Stand Stakes is shaping up to be one of the races of the week, with star five-furlong sprinter Battaash (Charlie Hills) heading the British entries.
A strong US challenge is led by last year’s winner Lady Aurelia (Wesley Ward, USA), who is seeking a third success at the Royal meeting, having also captured the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes as a two-year-old in 2016.
Trainer Wesley Ward, who pioneered American Royal Ascot challenges, has also made a King’s Stand Stakes entry for Bound For Nowhere, fourth in last year’s six-furlong Group 1 Commonwealth Cup.
Ward says Lady Aurelia “will run in the King’s Stand again at Royal Ascot and heads over to England on June 4th with the rest of our team for the meeting.
“There are some very good sprinters in England right now, but I’m confident that she can win the race again. She is so talented and given that she is a bigger and stronger filly this year, I think she will take all the beating. Her experience of the track will stand her in good stead and she likes the straight five-furlongs – it really seems to suit her style of running.
“We’re looking forward to going back to Royal Ascot and hopefully she can win there again.
“Bound For Nowhere is a horse I’m really, really excited about. We will head straight to Royal Ascot with him and the King’s Stand is also potentially the plan with him.
“He ran well to finish fourth at Royal Ascot last year as he was going up against some of the best three-year-old sprinters around in Caravaggio and Blue Point, so it was no disgrace to lose to them”.
Runner-up to Bound For Nowhere in the Shakertown Stakes was Bucchero, trained by Tim Glyshaw and another Royal Ascot contender. The Indiana-bred six-year-old landed the Group 2 Woodford Stakes at Keeneland in October prior to finishing fourth to Stormy Liberal (Diamond Jubilee Stakes entered) in the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar.
“The horse is a really cool customer. Every time he has been to a new track he eats, settles down and sleeps. He takes it all in his stride. It’s pretty amazing.
“There are four other partners in the horse and we will all be coming over to Ascot. We are all great sports fans and to have a runner at Royal Ascot was on our bucket list.”
The King’s Stand Stakes has gone to Australia on four occasions. This year’s possible from Down Under is Redkirk Warrior (David and Ben Hayes, and Tom Dabernig), although his primary target is the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on Saturday, and Frankie Dettori has been booked.
The seven-year-old has already won two Group 1 contests in 2018, following up his success in the five-furlong Black Caviar Lightning at Flemington in February by taking the Newmarket Handicap over a furlong further at the same venue on March 10th under top weight.
Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes, round mile (52 entries)
International interest in the St James’s Palace Stakes comes courtesy of Tower Of London and Fast Approach, both trained by Kazuo Fujisawa in Japan.
Owned by Godolphin and bred by Darley Japan, Tower Of London is a son of Raven’s Pass and landed the Group 3 Arlington Cup at Hanshin on April 14th.
Fast Approach, a son of New Approach, was not beaten far when sixth last time out in the mile Group 2 New Zealand Trophy at Nakayama on April 7th.
Both will run next in the NHK Mile Cup and a decision on Royal Ascot will follow.
Wednesday, June 20th
Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, a mile and a quarter (27 entries)
British-bred Cracksman and Enable (both John Gosden), who were the two top-rated horses in Europe and the best three-year-olds in the world in 2017, headline 27 entries for the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes over 10 furlongs.
Other entries to note include top class Godolphin horses, Group 1 Dubai World Cup hero Thunder Snow (Saeed bin Suroor) and G1 Dubai Sheema Classic victor Hawkbill (Charlie Appleby).
Thursday, June 21st
Group 1 Gold Cup, two and a half miles (33 entries)
Defending champion Big Orange (GB) (Michael Bell) and 2016 victor Order Of St George (Aidan O’Brien, IRE) are on course for a rematch in the Group 1 Gold Cup over two and half miles, having been separated by a short-head in 2017.
Ireland’s champion Jumps trainer Willie Mullins has an excellent record with his Flat runners at Royal Ascot. His three entries include impressive Stayers’ Hurdle victor Penhill (GB).
The up-and-comers include Group 1 Goodwood Cup victor Stradivarius (John Gosden), winner of the Group 2 Queen’s Vase at the meeting last year, and lightly-raced Cesarewitch Handicap victor Withhold (Roger Charlton).
Top French stayers Vazirabad (Alain de Royer-Dupre FR) and Ice Breeze (Pascal Bary FR) are engaged too.
Friday, June 22nd
Group 1 Commonwealth Cup, six furlongs (70 entries)
Ireland’s champion Flat trainer Aidan O’Brien, who sent out Caravaggio to win the Commonwealth Cup in 2017, is responsible for 11 of the 70 entries for the six-furlong contest this year.
A strong US-trained entry for the Commonwealth Cup includes Gidu (Todd Pletcher, USA), a son of Frankel who runs in the famous colours of Zayat Stables, which were carried to US Triple Crown glory in 2015 by American Pharoah.
Gidu began 2018 with a good second in the mile Group 3 Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park in February prior to a comfortable success in the non-graded Dania Beach Stakes over the same distance at Tampa Bay Downs on March 10th.
Wesley Ward has entered Hemp Hemp Hurray, impressive when winning the Animal Kingdom Stakes over six and a half furlongs on Polytrack at Turfway Park in March.
“He’s a very smart colt who won a couple of stakes contests at Belmont and Monmouth Park last season. I believe he is a Group level quality sprinter”.
An intriguing US challenger is Beckford (Brendan Walsh, USA). The Bated Breath colt was trained in Ireland by Gordon Elliott last year when successful in the Group 2 Railway Stakes at the Curragh and placed twice at Group 1 level. Simon Callaghan, who began his training career in Newmarket, has put in Run Away, a Group 2 scorer at Del Mar last year.
Tower Of London (Kazuo Fujisawa) has also been given a Commonwealth Cup entry in addition to the St James’s Palace Stakes.
Group 1 Coronation Stakes, round mile (57 entries)
QIPCO 1,000 Guineas favourite Happily (Aidan O’Brien, IRE) and stablemate September are among 57 entries for the Group 1 Coronation Stakes over the round mile.
Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby has Chantilly Group 1 scorer Wild Illusion and recent Group 3 Nell Gwyn winner Soliloquy among his three entries.
US interest comes from Rushing Fall (Chad Brown, USA). The unbeaten daughter of More Than Ready has proved herself the best of her generation in the USA, taking the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf in 2017 and beginning this year with success in the mile Group 2 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland on April 8th.
Saturday, June 23rd
Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes, six furlongs (40 entries)
Australian Redkirk Warrior (referenced earlier) and Americans Bound For Nowhere and Lady Aurelia are all entered in this contest in addition to Tuesday’s five-furlong King’s Stand Stakes.
Further Australian interest could come from Shoals (Anthony Freedman), successful over a mile in the Group 1 Myer Classic at Flemington in November and over seven furlongs last time out in the Group 1 James Boag’s Premium Surround Stakes at Randwick on March 3rd.
In addition to the Wesley Ward-trained duo, there is another American entry in Stormy Liberal (Peter Miller, USA). The six-year-old led home a 1-2 for the trainer in last year’s Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and looked as good as ever on his return when just failing by half-a-length behind Godolphin’s Jungle Cat in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan, UAE, on March 31.
The Diamond Jubilee Stakes went to Hong Kong in 2005 when Cape Of Good Hope took the spoils at Royal Ascot at York and a contender hoping to take the prize back east in 2018 is seven-year-old Lucky Bubbles (Francis Lui, HK), who enjoyed his finest hour when capturing the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize over six furlongs at Sha Tin in May last year.
All eight Group 1 races run at Royal Ascot form part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
The winners of this year’s Queen Anne Stakes, Prince of Wales’s Stakes, Norfolk Stakes and Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot will be awarded automatic “Win and You’re In” berths into the 2018 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs, which is staged on November 2nd and 3rd.
HAVANA GREY (GB), a Gr.3 winner at 2yo, looks to give @TweenhillsHub stallion HAVANA GOLD another Stakes race winne… https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1000391883019948034
4:03 PM May 26th