Seven Days: A Coronation in Chantilly

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Two queens: Nashwa and Hollie Doyle | Scoop Dyga

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Just when you thought a fully-charged Royal Ascot couldn't be topped, along came Hollie Doyle. 

The royal meeting was sadly missing The Queen for all five days this year but, France's republican tendencies aside, there are few in the racing world who would deny that Doyle is now the queen of Chantilly after reaching yet another milestone to become the first woman to ride a Group 1 Classic winner in Europe.

Her great triumph came aboard Nashwa (GB) (Frankel {GB}) for Imad Al Sagar, who was achieving an important landmark victory of his own with his first homebred Classic winner for his Blue Diamond Stud. It is now not even remarkable to see Doyle booked for top rides. She's so good at what she does, proving it day in and day out, from Group 1 showcase races to Class 6 handicaps, but there are not many of those top-class horses to go around.

For this observer, it was a punch-the-air moment when Doyle was announced as first jockey for Al Sagar three seasons ago. It felt important that a woman should be given a prominent retainership in the first place, and more symbolic that this offer was made by an Arab owner. It was an inspired and refreshing move on Al Sagar's part, and a thoroughly deserving position for Doyle. If she hadn't already, she has certainly repaid his faith in her now.

Doyle is five wins clear at the head of the jockeys' table for this calendar year. The nonsensical shortening of the jockeys' championship from the Guineas meeting to Champions Day means that a number of those 85 wins don't count, so she lies in fourth place in the 'championship', if we can call it that. Given the unwelcome publicity surrounding Oisin Murphy's behaviour and the conclusion to last year's jockeys' title, we could do with some better news in that regard, and one story that would guarantee more front-page, good-news headlines for racing would be the first female champion jockey. Doyle will get there one day, no doubt.

Al Sagar, as a breeder who has recently undertaken a significant restructuring of his two farms near Newmarket that comprise his Blue Diamond Stud operation, now finds himself in the happy position that his paddocks contain the dams of both female French Classic winners this season. As already noted in these pages, he bought Zotilla (Ire) (Zamindar), the dam of G1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches winner Mangoustine (Fr) (Dark Angel {Ire}), later in the year that her future Classic heroine was foaled. Nashwa's dam Princess Loulou (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}) was bought as a yearling. 

Frankel's Classic Touch

Nashwa was of course only the second Group 1 winner of the week for her sire Frankel and trainers John and Thady Gosden, who also had last year's leading 2-year-old filly Inspiral (GB) primed to perfection for her return in the G1 Coronation S., which was arguably the race at Ascot with the greatest depth.

Her victory was vengeance for her dam Starscope (GB) (Selkirk), who had been second in both the Coronation and the 1,000 Guineas of 2012, and Inspiral, who was the fourth generation of her family to have been bred by Cheveley Park Stud, became their fourth Coronation S. winner after Exclusive (GB), Russian Rhythm and Nannina (GB). The Thompson family's operation also enjoyed some reflected glory at Ascot as the breeder of surprise Chesham S. winner Holloway Boy (GB) and Buckingham Palace S winner Inver Park (GB), whose victories would have been all the sweeter for the fact that they are by one of the stud's resident sires, Ulysses (Ire), and the late former star of the stallion yard, Pivotal (GB).

Frankel still has some way to go to peg back Dubawi (Ire) if he is to retain his champion sire title this year, but the season is not even halfway through yet. One of the notable absentees on the quick ground at Ascot was his daughter Homeless Songs (Ire), the sensational winner of the Irish 1,000 Guineas. An eventual clash with Inspiral would be a mouth-watering prospect but, even without the filly, Moyglare Stud's 60th anniversary year continued in fine style with victory in the Gold Cup for another homebred, Kyprios (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), the rising star of the staying ranks. Never was a mare better named than his dam Polished Gem (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}), who has produced three Group 1 winners among her eight stakes winners. 

Frankel also featured as the damsire of the G3 Jersey S. winner Noble Truth (Fr), who is a son of his stud mate Kingman (GB).  It was a second major international winner for the family in less than a month as Noble Truth was bred by Jean-Pierre-Joseph Dubois from Speralita (Fr), an unraced sister of the six-time Group/Grade 1 winner Stacelita (Fr) (Monsun {Ger}), who took the Prix de Diane 13 years ago. As a broodmare Stacelita has plied her trade in Japan for Teruya Yoshida with great success, providing Frankel with his first Classic winner anywhere in the world when their daughter Soul Stirring (Jpn) won the GI Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks).

There has been further notable success for the Japanese wing of the family this season with Stars On Earth (Jpn) (Duramente {Jpn}), who is a grand-daughter of Stacelita and won the GI Oka Sho (1,000 Guineas) on April 22 followed by the Yushun Himba on May 22. Her dam Southern Stars (Smart Strike) has a colt foal catalogued for the foal section of the JHRA Select Sale, which takes place on July 11 and 12.

Dubawi Wears the Crown

With five winners, including a one-two in the G1 Platinum Jubilee S. with Naval Crown (GB) and Creative Force (Ire), Dubawi owns all the bragging rights among the sires represented at Royal Ascot. In fact, he is presently lording it over all-comers in Europe by just about every metric with 24 stakes winners led by four individual Group 1 winners this year.

One of the latter, Coroebus (Ire), followed up his 2,000 Guineas victory with a G1 St James's Palace S. success, to cement a memorable opening day for the Maktoum family following the procession of the unbeaten Baaeed (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) in the G1 Queen Anne S.

Dubawi's son New Bay (GB) also deserves plenty of plaudits with two group winners at the meeting. His daughter Saffron Beach (Ire) returned to the winner's enclosure in imperious fashion in the G2 Duke of Cambridge S., while her stable-mate Claymore (Ire) landed his first group-race strike in the G3 Hampton Court S. We'll be hearing more about their trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam's love of New Bay in Wednesday's TDN.

And let's not forget Dubawi's French-based son Zarak (Fr), who continues to make giant strides in the second-season sires' table. It has to be said that he looks the stand-out of this intake at this stage, with La Parisienne (Fr) going close to giving him a first-crop Classic winner in the Prix de Diane when running Nashwa to a neck. 

Admittedly Churchill was first off the mark in that regard with the very impressive Prix du Jockey Club winner Vadeni (Fr), and it was exciting to hear that this Aga Khan-bred colt is under consideration to be supplemented for the G1 Coral-Eclipse next month. But Zarak leads the way with five black-type winners, which equates to 11 per cent of his runners, and he also had Times Square (Fr) placed in the G1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches.

On With The Show

The sole appearance of Showcasing (GB) at Royal Ascot ended in ignominious defeat when he trailed in last of the 24 runners for the G1 Golden Jubilee S. But he has fared much better as a sire, notably with two G1 Commonwealth Cup winners in Quiet Reflection (GB) and Advertise (GB), while Soldier's Call (GB) won the Windsor Castle S. of 2018, and Tasleet (GB) and Cappella Sansevero (GB) finished runner-up in the G1 Diamond Jubilee S. and G2 Coventry S. respectively.

Showcasing was represented again this year by the smart G2 Queen Mary S. winner Dramatised (Ire), who provided a first major homebred success for Steve Parkin's Branton Court Stud. By that stage, the aforementioned Shadwell stallion Tasleet, whose first crop are now juveniles, was given a major boost by the G2 Coventry S. win of his son Bradsell (GB), who was sold as a breezer by Mark Grant to Tom Biggs and Archie Watson for £47,000, and presumably for many multiples of that after scorching to his nine-length maiden win on York's Knavesmire exactly a month after his appearance at Goffs UK.

Bradsell, bred by Deborah O'Brien, was one of two runners at Royal Ascot for the Bahrain-based Victorious Racing, the other being the Windsor Castle S. runner-up Rocket Rodney (GB) (Dandy Man {Ire}). He too had been purchased after an impressive novice win, this time at Goodwood for George Scott.

Whitsbury Manor Stud, which has stood Showcasing for his entire 12-season stud career to date, will have taken plenty of encouragement from the results of the royal meeting. Not only did they breed Tasleet before selling him to Sheikh Hamdan, but another of their own young sires featured prominently among the juvenile races. 

Havana Grey (GB) is currently romping away with 18 winners from his first crop and is seven clear of his nearest pursuer in that category, Sioux Nation. Though he is yet to join Tasleet and James Garfield (Ire) with a stakes winner, Havana Grey does have four black-type horses to his name, with Maylandsea (GB) having finished second in Queen Mary and Eddie's Boy (GB) third in the Windsor Castle.

There was further success for Showcasing at Chantilly on Sunday where Nurlan Bizakov's Sumbe homebred Belbek (Fr) landed the G3 Prix du Bois.

An Ascot for Everyone

As much as Royal Ascot represents some of the elite of European racing, the addition of handicaps in the first year of Covid has increased the potential for participation for owners and trainers, and the results reflected a broad spectrum of yards of all sizes.

George Boughey has been the up-and-coming name for the last couple of seasons and, with a Classic winner under his belt, he can now be considered to have truly arrived. His string is far from small on Newmarket Heath these days and he once again illustrated how adept he is in getting a great tune out of horses bought in training, usually in tandem with his great friend and ally Sam Haggas of Hurworth Bloodstock. Together they bought the Golden Gates H. winner Missed The Cut (Quality Road) for 40,000gns in February and, now with three wins from four runs under his belt, the 3-year-old looks a promising individual who had been an expensive foal purchase for Shadwell in America. 

Similar comments apply to Inver Park (GB) (Pivotal {GB}), who was already a decent dual winner for Mick Quinn when sold last October at Goffs UK for £35,000. He too has found a winning groove this spring, with his Buckingham Palace S. win being his third on the bounce. 

While Hollie Doyle is usually riding against her husband Tom Marquand, Hayley Turner is in the more agreeable position of riding for her partner Harry Eustace, the second-season trainer who bagged a Royal Ascot winner with his first ever runner at the meeting. Hopefully the much celebrated success of Latin Lover (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) in the Palace of Holyroodhouse H. will put Eustace's name on the radar of more owners as he is currently enjoying a fantastic season on a strike-rate of 24 per cent winners to runners. 

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Huge credit must also go to Dave Evans for brining Rohaan (GB) (Mayson {GB}) back to Ascot in great shape to claim his second successive Wokingham S.

It was pleasing to hear the 4-year-old's co-owner Chris Kiely get his priorities right when saying after the race, “I've had two kids and got married, but this is the best moment of my life.” Let's just hope his wife and children weren't listening in.

Jane Chapple-Hyam put all her fellow trainers in the shade, however, when bringing three horses to the royal meeting and waltzing home with two group wins and a runner-up in the Royal Hunt Cup. As already mentioned, we will be reflecting more on the success of her Abington Place stable tomorrow.

A Royal Nod For Tattersalls

There's always plenty to take in during Ascot week so you may have missed the announcement of a small adjustment to the Tattersalls December Mare Sale. The four-day auction which follows hard on the heels of a day of yearlings and four days of foal sales at Park Paddocks will now feature a specifically labelled 'Sceptre Session' which takes its name from the star filly of the early 1900s and a former Tattersalls sale record-breaker.

To a degree, the Tuesday evening of the mare sale, when this select session of high-class broodmares and breeding prospects is set to take place, is already one of the high points in the sales calendar when it comes to drama. Quite frankly, if you're a bloodstock aficionado and you weren't playing your part in the mass game of Sardines in the Tatts ring when the likes of Dancing Rain (Ire) and Marsha (Ire) sold for millions, then where were you? 

Having up to 75 of the highest-profile offerings clearly labelled in one select session within a session makes a lot of sense, though it will make for an even more fraught couple of hours than usual for the weary bloodstock journalists on the hunt for quotes. A timely reminder to start getting into training for the sales season.

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