Seven lessons we learned at Royal Ascot

Seven lessons we learned at Royal Ascot
By Sportsbeat

25/06/2017 at 02:23Updated

With red-hot weather and red-hot favourites it's been a week to remember at Royal Ascot - but a week to forget for the bookmakers, with a series of big fancies sending hats flying and champagne corks popping.

Sportsbeat's James Toney looks back on five days of high-quality racing, which saw new legends created and reputations enhanced, at a race meeting which lived up to its 'like nowhere else' advertising slogan.

1. Scat Daddy is THE daddy plus Frankel finally strikes

Scat Daddy didn't have a remarkable racing career with five wins from nine starts.

But when he passed away suddenly after a heart attack in December 2014, aged just 11, it was a huge blow for his Kentucky Stud - and, it has proved, a massive blow for racing too.

Scat Daddy sired four Royal Ascot winners to ensure his legacy lives on but those who deal in bloodlines and breeding will be left to wonder just what might have been.

Lady Aurelia - who won the King's Stand to light up Royal Ascot for the second year - made the successful transition from scintillating two-year old to proven group one performer.

Con Te Partiro also delivered for Lady Aurelia's trainer Wesley Ward, claiming the Sandringham Stakes, while classy colt Caravaggio - now unbeaten in six starts - was a storming winner of the Commonwealth Cup. Completing the set was Sioux Nation in the Norfolk Stakes.

Scat Daddy's racing career doesn't hold a candle to the legendary Frankel - but one of the champion's progeny finally delivered at a meeting where their father was a famous two-time winner, two years after the first of his runners went to post.

Many thought Mori - racing in her father's green and pink colours - would do the business but the smart filly was narrowly beaten by Coronet in the Ribblesdale Stakes. However, just a couple of races later, Atty Persse became the stallion's first Royal Ascot winner under a smart ride from 3lb claimer Kieran Shoemark.

2. Everest the limit for superstar Caravaggio

Ryan Moore's trademark timing was spot on as he presented Caravaggio at exactly the right moment to win the six furlong Commonwealth Cup.

Royal Ascot's newest grade one race is still winning over fans but the trip is perfect for Aidan O'Brien's charge, for whom five furlongs is too sharp and a longer distance remains an unknown.

Surely his next target will be the six million pound Everest Stakes over 1200 metres, which will become the world's most valuable turf race when staged for the first time in Sydney this October.

The Coolmore syndicate of John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor have reportedly already paid one million pounds for a three-year entry.

"The lads have it in their heads about the Everest Stakes in Australia in the autumn," said O'Brien. "That's why we didn't want to be too hard on him now. He is only a three-year-old and it's a long way through a year."

3. Godolphin versus Coolmore gets interesting again

Three winners on the first day was just what Sheikh Mohammed needed for his embattled Godolphin team, who have been too often beaten by arch-rivals Coolmore in recent years.

However, both operations finished the week deadlocked in the owners' standings with six wins apiece, hopefully reigniting a rivalry whose spark has been diminishing.

With Godolphin employing more than one trainer, Aidan O'Brien - who waited patiently before the brilliant Highland Reel delivered his first win in Wednesday's Prince of Wales's Stakes - finished Royal Ascot as top handler again.

And - equally predictably - his retained star Ryan Moore was top jockey.

4. Sprinting is back in vogue at Royal Ascot

Fans love their hardy stayers - as underlined by the popularity of Gold Cup winner Big Orange - but speedsters Lady Aurelia and Caravaggio have made cavalry charges cool again, adding second Royal Ascot wins to their resumes in scintillating style.

US trainer Wesley Ward is fast becoming a crowd favourite with his incredible strike rate of super-fast winners and then there was The Tin Man in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

Like those floral prints and trouser suits, sprinting is back in fashion at Royal Ascot - good news on all counts.

5. St Leger looking a real classic packed with Ascot winners

The final classic of the season could be a real belter, with three Royal Ascot winners expected to be in contention when attention shifts to Doncaster this September.

Stradivarius won the Queen's Vase, the route taken by last year's St Leger winner Harbour Law.

Coronet could deliver for the fillies after her winning run in the Ribblesdale Stakes and then there is Frankel's sire Atty Persse, who certainly looks a group one horse after his performance in the King George V Stakes.

6. Ribchester proves himself the biggest banker

You can't get more British than Prime Rib and the first race of the meeting saw Ribchester reinforce his status as the best miler in the business in the Queen Anne Stakes.

A warm favourite in the market, he looked red-hot on the track, staying on strongly to hold off the challenge of Mutakayyef by a length-and-a-quarter.

Richard Fahey's unbeaten stable star looks peerless. Already a double group one winner this season following his victory in the Lockinge Stakes, he will now surely head to the one million pound Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, the most exciting horse to challenge there since Frankel, who won in 2011 and 2012.

A potential rival could be fellow Godolphin runner Barney Roy, who reversed the 1000 Guineas result to beat Churchill in a thrilling St James's Palace Stakes.

7. Get your tickets now for Qipco Champions Day

Unlike jumps racing, where all roads led to the Cheltenham Festival, there is plenty more flat action to enjoy in the months ahead, with form to reverse, reputations to cement and millions to be won.

The season-ending Qipco Champions Day, back at Ascot in October, is the richest British race day of the season and many stars of this week will be back to chase the cash and glory.

Sportsbeat 2017

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