The final day at Royal Ascot could provide yet another magic moment at one of the most historic race meetings in the world – a rare Group 1 double over five days.
Back on Tuesday, opening day of the meet, Godolphin’s Blue Point won the King’s Stand Stakes. On Saturday, closing day, the 5-year-old horse is set to take on 17 rivals in the £340,760 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at six furlongs. The last horse to pull off the feat was Australia-based Choisir in 2003.
The Charlie Appleby-trained son of Shamardal takes a five-race winning streak into the race, including the Al Quoz Sprint (GIT) at Meydan on Dubai World Cup day, March 30, and last year’s King’s Stand Stakes.
Appleby said both races were always part of the plan, providing Blue Point came out of the first effort in good order. He has showed good energy since Tuesday and was declared to run on Thursday.
The Diamond Jubilee is the only Group 1 on Saturday’s six-race card at Ascot Racecourse. The weather has returned to more typical spring London-type conditions and the day’s temperature is expected to be near 70 under partly sunny skies. The going over the course is expected to be good to soft.
The Diamond Jubilee, for 4-year-olds and up, was first run in 1868 as the All-Aged Stakes before morphing into the Cork and Orry Stakes in the late 1920s in honor of the Earl of Cork. It became the Golden Jubilee in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s 50th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. Seven years ago it was renamed to commemorate her 60th anniversary.
Some of the top European sprinters have won the race, but none as prominent as 2012 winner and worldwide fan favorite Black Caviar, who shipped in from Australia to claim a narrow victory. Coolmore and the Merchant Navy syndicate won a year ago with Merchant Navy and also in 2010 with the Australia-bred Starspangledbanner.
Among those taking on Blue Point is Fred Archer Racing’s The Tin Man, who won this race in 2017 and was fourth a year ago. The 7-year-old gelding is looking for his first win of the year after finishing second in his debut in the Weatherby’s Hamilton Leisure Stakes at Royal Windsor last month. The son of Equiano is an accomplished sprinter overall, having eight wins at this distance, but also owns three wins over the Ascot lawn. James Fanshawe trains and jockey Oisin Murphy will ride.
Saeed Manana’s Invincible Army seeks a third consecutive win in 2019, having captured the Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes (GIIT) at York last out and a non-graded event at Doncaster. This is his distance, with four wins and four seconds from 11 starts, and a winner in two starts over this course. The 4-year-old son of Invincible Spirit is trained by James Tate and will have former champion jump jockey P.J. McDonald aboard for the first time.
City Light hasn’t won a race in five starts in more than a year, but was second by a head in 2018 to Merchant Navy in this race. The France-bred and largely France-raced son of Soyouni has a nice resume at various sprint distances, winning from five furlongs to 7 ½ but only once at six furlongs. Cristophe Soumillon, who rode City Light in this race last year and in every out since, rides again for Stephane Wattel.
Four years ago, American trainer Wesley Ward saddled Undrafted to victory and this year will saddle Grade 2 winner Bound For Nowhere, who he also owns. Ward is the most successful American trainer at Royal Ascot with 10 winners, but hasn’t had as much luck this year through Thursday’s card and scratched his most high-profile runner, the American Pharoah colt Maven, due to soft ground in favor of a race at Chantilly in a few weeks.
Bound For Nowhere hasn’t won at this distance, but was third in this race last year, and is well-traveled with five trips back and forth across the pond. It’s never smart to count Ward out and his horse is loaded with talent and easy to back.
Dream of Dreams is on a two-stakes win streak for Sir Michael Stoute and likes the distance; Emblazoned starts for Princess Haya of Jordan and John Gosden and will be ridden by leading rider Frankie Dettor; and Le Brivido cuts back in distances after a fifth in the one-mile Queen Anne Stakes (GIT) on opening day and Lim’s Cruiser ships in off a second in a Group 1 in Singapore,
Post time for the fourth-race Diamond Jubilee is 11:20 a.m. ET.
Hardwick Features Returning Star
A field of nine will go postward in the third race of the day, the 1 ½-mile Hardwicke Stakes (GII) for 4-year-olds and up. The event was named after Charles Philip Yorke, 5th Earl of Hardwicke who, most notably, serves as Her Majesty’s representative at Royal Ascot and heads the Ascot office at St. James Palace and is responsible for admitting people to the Royal Enclosure during the Royal Ascot meeting.
Despite a year layoff, Godolphin’s Masar is the early favorite making his first start since winning the Epsom Derby (GIT) where he finished in front of the highly regarded, Cartier Award-winning 3-year-old Roaring Lion. The son of New Approach is trained by Charlie Appleby, who chose this race for the colt’s return over the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (GIT) — thought to be the more likely choice — earlier in the week. James Doyle will ride for the first time since 2017 and for the first time since William Buick took over for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GIT), where he was sixth, at Del Mar.
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum’s Defoe won at this distance in the Investec Coronation Cup (GIT) at Epsom a month ago in what was a mild upset and comes back here considered a top contender for another win. The Irish-bred son of Dhalakani has traveled and raced with good success all over Europe (England, Ireland, France and Germany) and looks like a tough competitor for trainer Roger Varian and jockey Andrea Azteni.
Coolmore’s Southern France, who has picked up some pieces in lesser stakes events over the past year for trainer Aidan O’Brien, also is entered. The son of Galileo makes his Group 1 debut and will have Ryan Moore aboard. The question is whether he can handle the rise in class.
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.
She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law in Kentucky known as the “Borell Law.”Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time.She lives in Robinson, Texas, with her longtime beau, Tony. She is the executive director of the 501(c)(3) non-profit horse rescue, The Bridge Sanctuary.