Royal Ascot: “We Know He Is Good Enough.” Artorius Back for Jubilee Burn-Up

Australia's Artorius returns in Saturday's Jubilee S. after a 3rd in 2022 |  Racingfotos.com


Royal Ascot 2023 winds up on Saturday with the centrepiece the meeting's now-familiar international dash, the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee S. These are some of the fastest equine dragsters on the planet, with the 1:11.05 six-furlong course record of Blue Point (Ire) (Shamardal) potentially under threat as the high pressure continues to build over Berkshire. Australia's Artorius (Aus) (Flying Artie {Aus}) returns a year older and more mature than when a close third 12 months ago as he covered the final three furlongs faster than any. Hong Kong's Wellington (Aus) (All Too Hard {Aus}) gets the dual benefit of an overseas holiday in the English sun and some time away from his nemesis Lucky Sweynesse (NZ) (Sweynesse {Aus}). He's also got Ryan Moore, which can't be bad.

Sam Freedman is not feeling the same pressure with the current favourite Artorius as 12 months ago.

“He is a lot shorter in the market and there is a bit more expectation, but last year it was the unknown and whether he was going to measure up–this year we know he is good enough,” he explained. “I am not so concerned about the opposition, but more where he will end up and where he will get to in the run. I am confident taking on any of the sprinters in the world, but it is a case of getting the right transit and a bit of luck.”

US interest comes in the form of the Christophe Clement-trained Big Invasion (Declaration Of War) on a big day for Dean and Patti Reeves who had a share of the Albany success of Porta Fortuna (Ire) (Caravaggio) on Friday. He faces a stark new challenge here, but looked the kind of strong closer in the GI Jaipur that will enjoy this stiff six. English queen Highfield Princess (Fr) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}) is back on the track four days after her gallant effort in the G1 King's Stand S., where she was definitely compromised by Bradsell (GB) (Tasleet {GB}) who due to his drift looked a more worthy winner than he actually was. The good news for fans of John Quinn's triple group 1 winner is that she is not the type to let such an injustice fester and the vibe from her accomplished trainer straight after was that the experience will even bring her to a peak.

“We left her down all week and looked at her on Thursday morning and she seems fine, so we're quite happy to roll the dice,” her Malton-based trainer said. “Plenty of horses have run well in both races, so it's doable. She seems bright and she's no travelling to do, which is important.”

Marc Chan's G1 British Champions Sprint S. hero Kinross (GB) (Kingman {GB}) will have to travel faster than he's ever done, something that won't be a problem for the dual Wokingham winner Rohaan (Ire) (Mayson {GB}) who finally gets his crack at the meeting's big one on the fast ground he loves. Based on his times when taking his second renewal of the day's big handicap, he would have been in the mix in this especially as he was carrying seven pounds more than the Platinum Jubilee winner Naval Crown (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) and clocked a final three furlongs 2/10 second faster than Artorius.

With the ground quickening with each passing day, Saturday's G2 Hardwicke S. could be robbed of its star turn as connections of Hukum (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) revealed they will be checking out the lay of the land ahead of the mile-and-a-half test. Trainer Owen Burrows has avoided this kind of surface since the debut of Shadwell's G1 Coronation Cup winner and would welcome some storms in Berkshire. “This was the obvious race for him, our only slight worry is the ground being a bit quick for him, so I think we'll walk the track at midday on Saturday and make sure we're happy with it,” he said of the 6-year-old who was so impressive in last month's G3 Brigadier Gerard S. “He's won on a range of grounds, but I know speaking to Sheikha Hissa after he won at Sandown that Jim [Crowley] had mentioned to her that he's so much better on good ground and we want to look after him this year–we won't risk him on fast ground.”

George Strawbridge's talented Free Wind (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) is hardly the biggest fan of fast ground either, but she handled something near this when accounting for Wednesday's G2 Duke of Cambridge S. winner Rogue Millennium (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) in the G2 Middleton S. at York last month. Pyledriver (GB) (Harbour Watch {Ire}) was on a quick surface when landing the G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. over the course and distance when last seen and Willie Muir is relishing the end of the long wait. “As I've said all the way through, this is hopefully a prep race for the King George and will put the edge on him,” he said. “I've got no doubt his ability is all still there, but he's been off the course for a long time and we just want to get through this race and move on. As long as he goes through the race nice and comes home nice, we're laughing.”

Opening the card is the seven-furlong Listed Chesham S., where Ballydoyle's strong collection of juveniles is represented by the Navan scorer Pearls And Rubies (No Nay Never) and the eye-catching Leopardstown third Content (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), a daughter of Mecca's Angel (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}). In a renewal dominated by Irish-trained fillies, others to note are Lindsay Laroche's Limerick winner Snellen (Ire) (Expert Eye {GB}) and The Curragh scorer Nemonte (Ire) (Ten Sovereigns {Ire}) who is another to represent Reeves Thoroughbred Racing owned in partnership with Steven Rocco.

Shadwell's TDN Rising Star Enfjaar (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}), Ballydoyle's proven The Antarctic (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) and Juddmonte's Covey (GB) (Frankel {GB}) seem the trio to focus on in the seven-furlong G3 Jersey S., with the latter unusually impressive in the always-competitive Silver Bowl H. at Haydock last month. “He's a very exciting horse and we look forward to seeing him out again,” Juddmonte racing manager Barry Mahon said. “He looks to have plenty of pace for seven furlongs and he gets a mile, so the stiff seven in Ascot should be fine for him.”

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