Royal Ascot attracts thoroughbred racehorses from all over the world to come and compete in Britain. Despite adding extra races to their schedule this year, there are still winners and losers and clues for future festivals.
Which horses from top trainers’ stables delivered and who disappointed? Let’s take a look.
Aidan O’Brien: Russian Emperor does what brothers Mogul and Japan cannot
Three of mighty Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien’s big runners at Royal Ascot 2020 were colts. Japan had won at the meeting the year before, and his brother Mogul tried to follow in his hoofprints by winning the King Edward VII Stakes.
Sent off odds-on to do just that, Mogul didn’t pick up on his first try over a mile-and-a-half and finished fourth as the Group 2 contest went to relative outsider Pyledriver. Sibling Japan went in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and was also made favourite, but filled the same spot as the improving Lord North progressed to win his Group 1 debut.
If Mogul didn’t enhance his claims in the Epsom Derby, then Russian Emperor made up for that. O’Brien won the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes over a mile-and-a-quarter coming with a late run down the outside to beat Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II’s horse First Receiver.
The stable also had a Group 1 success on the opening day of Royal Ascot courtesy of Circus Maximus. It went to a photo finish in the Queen Anne Stakes, but this horse followed-up on his St James’s Palace win 12 months earlier.
John Gosden: Lord North and Stradivarius seal big successes
Newmarket trainer John Gosden also had a lot expected of his stable at Royal Ascot 2020. A Group 2 double on the opening day of the meeting, courtesy of fillies Frankly Darling in the Ribblesdale Stakes and Nazeef in the Duke of Cambridge set him up.
Frankly Darling was one of the horses tipped on the MansionBet blog by Hayley Turner, who went on to record her own win in the Sandrigham Stakes. Frankly Darling emerged as a contender for The Oaks at Epsom Downs with her Ribblesdale rout.
The aforementioned Lord North, meanwhile, has done nothing but improve since becoming a gelding. He has risen through the grades, from handicap company to Group 1 glory in the Prince Of Wales under James Doyle and is now a potential rival to stable companion Enable for the Eclipse at Sandown Park.
It’s champion stayer Stradivarius who is the real superstar of Gosden’s yard, though. Rain hit Royal Ascot in the hours leading up to his bid for a hat-trick in the Gold Cup. That softened the ground and made this gruelling two-and-a-half miles Group 1 contest an even greater test of stamina.
Stradivarius is a very intelligent horse who usually only ever does enough to win. He did plenty more than that when cruising past long-time leader Nayef Road en route to a third Gold Cup and fourth consecutive Royal Ascot. It was a demolition job as he won by 10 lengths on ground Gosden insists is not ideal for him.