Talking Points: Keane Off The Mark At Ascot – But He Deserves More Big-Race Rides

Colin Keane: recorded a notable first at Royal Ascot | Racingfotos.com


Hard to believe that Colin Keane was 0-50 at Ascot before booting Villanova Queen (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) home to record an emotional victory for Jessica Harrington in the Kensington Palace Fillies' Handicap.

Anyone with even a passing interest in Irish racing will know that Keane is right up there with the best riders in Europe and his royal winner was long overdue. 

Of course, it came in rather fortuitous circumstances, with Keane deputising for Harrington's number one rider Shane Foley, who was cruelly ruled out for six weeks after breaking his collarbone at Gowran Park.

Many will point to the fact that Keane came in for the winning ride on Westover (GB) (Frankel {GB}) in the Irish Derby last year and Dermot Weld called on his services for Tarnawa (Ire) (Shamardal) in the Breeders' Cup Turf in 2020.

But the point remains, Keane is a top-drawer rider and one that is deserving of more opportunities to showcase his talents on the international stage like the previous Irish champion jockeys did before him. 

Victory aboard Villanova Queen could serve as a reminder of that fact. 

Tudhope Hardens Tremendous Ascot Record

Danny Tudhope has had no such problems with finding the back of the net at Ascot. In fact, this is the meeting where he has enjoyed some of his best days in the saddle. 

Think Lord Glitters (Fr) (Whipper) storming to Queen Anne success at massive odds, Holloway Boy (GB) (Ulysses {Ire}) flashing home in the Chesham and Dramatised (Ire) (Showcasing {GB}) scooting clear in the Queen Mary. Tudhope has a lot of fine memories from this meeting.

He also won the Duke Of Cambridge S. in 2019 aboard Move Swiftly (GB) (Farhh {GB}) and doubled his tally of wins in the Group 2 contest on Tuesday when delivering Rogue Millennium (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) at exactly the right time to win by just a neck. 

That success brought Tudhope's record at Ascot to 23-231 and hardened his reputation as being a master of his craft on the straight course. 

Appleby Proves He's Not Just A Sand Artist

Mick Appleby told TDN Europe back in January how, in many ways, that he had become a victim of his own success on the all-weather and that he'd love to train more two-year-old runners. 

The trainer proved on Wednesday that, given the raw material, he can do the business with juveniles by sending out Big Evs (Ire) (Blue Point {Ire}) to win the Windsor Castle. 

One of the best all-weather trainers in the business, Appleby has gone some way to demonstrating that he is just as good on turf through his handling of progressive sprinter Raasel (GB) (Showcasing) and now Big Evs. 

Indeed, Big Evs will also go down as a noteworthy first Royal Ascot winner for Blue Point, the first of the freshman sires to achieve such a feat this week. 

Two Things To Take From The Prince Of Wales's Stakes

Few would have seen Mostahdaf (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) winning the Prince Of Wales's S before the race was run. Fewer still would have predicted the style in which it would be achieved. 

Regardless, there didn't appear to be any fluke about the victory, with the John and Thady Gosden-trained runner quickening up off a steady pace and rounding the field as if they were stationary. 

He looks a very smart performer over 10 furlongs, which he proved in Riyadh earlier this year before coming up short behind a global superstar in Equinox (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}) when upped to 1m4f in the Dubai Sheema Classic. 

There were a couple of things to take from Wednesday's race; Equinox is probably the best horse in the world right now and Mostahdaf won't be underestimated in the Juddmonte International.

American Winner An Important One 

International competition is what underpins the royal meeting. That's what made the result of the opening Queen Mary such an important one with the American raider Crimson Advocate (Nyquist) hanging on to land a pulsating renewal. 

That brought American-trained runners' tally of winners at Royal Ascot to 14. A whopping 12 of those have been trained by Wesley Ward, who is incidentally without a winner since Campanelle (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) in the 2021 Commonwealth Cup. 

The international runners at Ascot are what the Irish runners are to Cheltenham. It's what makes the meeting so special. Without your Australian sprinters and razor-sharp American-bred juveniles, the meeting would not boast the same lustre. 

As a result, Ascot deserves a lot of credit for being proactive in recruiting runners from all over the world. George Weaver's Crimson Advocate won her qualifying race for Royal Ascot at Gulfstream back in May and such an initiative has proved a roaring success. 

Connections of Relief Rally (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}), beaten just a nose by the American raider on Wednesday, may not agree, but Crimson Advocate's success was an important one as it served to further broaden the appeal of one of the most special race meetings in the world. 

Need For Minimum Ratings

That brings us onto Steven Seagull (GB) (War Command). Royal Ascot is supposed to be about bringing the best horses and people the world has to offer and pitching them against each other for one brilliant week of racing. 

So what was the 46-rated Steven Seagull doing running in the Queen's Vase? We had a similar situation a few years back when the 54-rated My Lucky Penny was allowed to run in the 2020 Irish 1,000 Guineas and duly tailed off at odds of 400-1.

Connections didn't even have an excuse of a day out on that occasion given the race took place behind closed doors due to Covid. 

These lowly-rated horses have their place, of course they do, but it's not on the biggest of stages where their participation could do more harm than good. Minimum ratings would serve to eliminate such needless worries going forward.


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