22nd Jun 2017
Royal Ascot is the international hub for horseracing this week. The great and good arrive in style at one of the most picturesque tracks in the world. Five days of supersonic racing is complimented by a spectacular display of fashion and elegant tailoring. Horses will travel from Japan, Chile, America and all over Europe to contest these top flight races across a range of distances. To win at this meeting elevates your horse’s profile to household status and if you wanted to cash in afterwards, the bank manager would be pleased to see you!
At 2pm each day HM Queen Elizabeth II herself arrives into the parade ring via a horse drawn carriage accompanied by other members of her family or high society to a rapturous applause. Yesterday Prince William and Kate were also amongst the Royal party alongside Prince Charles and, our recent stud visitor, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
This meeting has a huge history and dates back to the 1700’s and as one of the most prestigious events in the racing calendar it naturally attracts some of Ireland’s best horses. On Tuesday Ireland’s only score was by Willie Mullins in the Ascot Stakes (a race over 2 ½ miles) with his seven-year-old Thomas Hobson, but you can bet that will change throughout the week. The friendly international rivalry is omni-present at these events with bookies offering odds on Irish-trained victories and marketing executives hastily chalking them up. It’s always satisfying to underline how well Ireland ranks in these arenas, with jockeys, trainers, grooms, and of course the horses themselves, acquitting themselves with pride.
Our own record at this meeting is also significant with many of our stallions and stock having made an impact in some of these great races. Minoru, bred by our founder, Colonel Hall Walker, was one of the early successes. After winning the Epsom Derby for King Edward VII (the Colonel leased him to the King), Minoru then proved his versatility by dropping back in distance to win the St James’s Palace which is only over a mile.
Later Sun Chariot, who was a hot-tempered filly, won the Queen Mary Stakes as a two-year old. Her nature didn’t thwart her though as she became the stuff of legend the following year, winning the Fillies’ Triple Crown (three events over different distances – the 1000 Guineas, the Oaks and St Leger). A feat which hasn’t been repeated since and one which ensured she deserved a place in history on the farm – hence the Sun Chariot Yard which is our foaling unit in the Spring.
Others to grace the Berkshire track’s winning enclosure include our homebred super-sire Blandford, Gold Cup winners Prince Palatine and Rite Of Passage (now one of our Living Legends). Indian Ridge, Verglas, Free Eagle and Gale Force Ten all conjur wonderful memories of this famed week of June.
Tune in to ITV to see the event in all it’s glory or soak up the ambience here in our paddocks – where the champs are born and raised!