Royal Ascot was a cosmopolitan affair once in 2017, with the headline act a second win at the Royal Meeting for the Wesley Ward-trained, Lady Aurelia.
Having scorched the Ascot turf over the minimum distance of five furlongs in the Queen Mary as a two-year-old in 2016, if anything she was even more impressive dispatching her rivals in the all-aged King’s Stand Stakes on this occasion. Lady Aurelia is owned by Stonestreet Farm and partners, with Barbara Banke at the helm.
Wesley Ward also made history at the meeting when winning the Sandringham with Con Te Partiro, a first handicap winner for the USA at Royal Ascot and a ninth overall success for the trainer.
A record 14 runners from the USA took part over the week, appropriately enough with the meeting carried extensively by NBC for the first time.
The Royal Meeting welcomed Todd Pletcher, Graham Motion, Mark Casse – returning after his ground-breaking win with Tepin in the 2016 Queen Anne – and, for the first time, Bill Mott.
Also talking of firsts, Ascot saw a first runner from Argentina in the King George in July, with South American champion, Sixties Song, in the line-up in a race which was ultimately won by Enable, who of course went on to win the Arc too.
Sixties Song joins a long list of recent champions from all over the world who, whilst ultimately unsuccessful, contributed to Ascot’s reputation as the ultimate stage for equine flag bearers from far and wide. Like A Shin Hikari (Japan), Able Friend (Hong Kong), Treve (France) and Animal Kingdom (USA), he was a star in his homeland who took up the challenge and added so much international lustre to racing at Ascot.
Since the turn of the Millennium there have been 10 winners at Royal Ascot from America, two from Hong Kong, six from Australia – including Choisir twice and the great Black Caviar in 2012 – and numerous horses have made it to the Winners’ Enclosure from all around Europe.
Hopes will be high in Australia of a further winner in 2018, with Redkirk Warrior (David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig), who is entered in the King’s Stand Stakes and Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Frankie Dettori has been booked for the seven-year-old, who 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.
American sprinters Bucchero (Tim Glyshaw), and the aforementioned Lady Aurelia and Bound For Nowhere (both Wesley Ward), are also amongst the possibles for the King’s Stand and Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
Gidu (Todd Pletcher), 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, leads America’s bid for the Commonwealth Cup and he could be joined by Beckford (Brendan Walsh).
Perhaps most excitingly of all is the Bill Mott trained Yoshida, who will represent WinStar Farm (and partners, including China Horse Club), whose Justify will be seeking Triple Crown glory just days before the former lines up in the Queen Anne Stakes.
On the back of his recent win in the Grade One Turf Classic on the Kentucky Derby undercard, Jose Ortiz has been booked to ride Yoshida. He will also ride Bucchero at Ascot.