At a meeting which illuminates British racing in all its excellence it was heartening to see that exactly half of the 30 races during Royal Ascot were won by horses carrying a GB suffix, representing 13 different breeding entities from the behemoth to the boutique.
As Accidental Agent led his Queen Anne Stakes rivals past the post, the tone was set for a very special week. Gaie Johnson Houghton may have felt some disappointment when her homebred son of the late Overbury resident Delegator failed to sell at only 8,000gns as a yearling but any such thoughts have long been banished since he provided her daughter Eve with not just a first Royal Ascot winner but also a first Group 1 winner.
Barry and Fiona Reilly’s Epsom-based Woodcote Stud enjoyed another Group 1 winner to follow St Leger hero Kingston Hill when the admirable Poet’s Word finally gained the top-level victory he so richly deserved. He, too, is the son of a sadly deceased stallion, Dubawi’s son Poet’s Voice, who died early this year.
There was a distinctly international flavour to the third British-bred Group 1 winner of the week, Without Parole. His dam, the Lemon Drop Kid mare Without You Babe, resides at Newsells Park Stud but is owned by John and Tanya Gunther of the Kentucky-based Glennwood Farm. The Gunthers, who are Canadian, are truly enjoying an annus mirabilis as breeders of Triple Crown winner Justify and Grade 2 Wood Memorial winner Vino Rosso.
Without Parole made his 2018 debut on a drizzly day at Yarmouth, beating Ostilio. The form of that April 24 novice stakes now looks incredibly strong with the latter having won the Britannia for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid and Simon Crisford.
Newsells Park also featured as the birthplace of the final winner of the week, Pallasator, who has proved to be as versatile as he is quirky, winning a Grade 2 novices’ hurdle on April 27, followed by an appearance at the Punchestown Festival and then victory in the Queen Alexandra.
After the setback to Enable earlier this season, Juddmonte received a boost with three Royal Ascot winners, two of which were by their own young sires. Perhaps the most important victory was that of Kingman’s first-crop son Calyx, who was highly impressive on only his second outing in the Coventry Stakes. Meanwhile, Frankel’s name was kept in lights as the leading sire of the week, his Juddmonte-bred winner Monarchs Glen augmenting Without Parole’s top-flight success.
Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar were rewarded for the significant investment they have made in their Blue Diamond Stud with a homebred winner in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes. Aljazzi, a daughter of Shamardal trained by Marco Botti, will be a lovely addition to their broodmare band in time and would be an exciting mate for another of the stud’s graduates, Decorated Knight, now standing at the Irish National Stud.
Godolphin’s King’s Stand Stakes winner Blue Point is also by Shamardal but was foaled in Ireland, though his Group 2-winning stablemate Old Persian makes this list after adding the ‘Ascot Derby’ to Masar’s victory at Epsom to continue a purple patch for Charlie Appleby’s stable.
Sir Evelyn de Rothschild’s Crystal Ocean looks a Group 1 winner in the making and took the Hardwicke Stakes in fine style. Hopefully, he will attempt to emulate another former Sir Michael Stoute trainee Harbinger by winning the King George later this month.
Making his breeders’ roll of honour debut is David Hodge of Llety Farm, breeder of Archie Watson’s first Royal Ascot winner Soldier’s Call, while David Erwin is in the same position with his Wokingham Stakes winner Bacchus, whom he races with John Woodman and Giles Morland.
And finally, it’s always good to see Jeff Smith’s colours carried to glory at a major meeting. He teamed up with David Elsworth to land the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes with Dash Of Spice from a family which has served Littleton Stud so well.
Hearty congratulations to all and a tip of the hat to Ascot for acknowledging the winning breeders with a special lunch.