Top 5 Royal Ascot 2017 Performances/Races
By Rory Ford
Royal Ascot 2017 was another year full of fantastic performances but I have narrowed it down to my five personal highlights. I have tried to leave the punting side of my mind out (very difficult) and strictly focus on what I enjoyed watching from a racing stand point. Royal Ascot really is a special place and continues to attract the best horses every year and what is more special is the fact they come from all over the globe to compete! With English, Irish, French and American winners this year we were treated to a truly international festival. Working from fifth to first here are the best performances/races -
5. Winter sparkles in the Coronation Stakes.
Going into the 1000 Guineas in May, Winter had just one victory to her name in four starts. However, her following three races have produced the English and Irish 1000 Guineas double and a Royal Ascot success. She has certainly marked herself as the best three-year-old filly over a mile. She led over a furlong from home and ran on to win by a comfortable two and a quarter lengths. She looks an exciting prospect going forward and it would be brilliant to see her against the colts some time this year.
4. Barney Roy gets his revenge.
Barney Roy certainly looked a terribly unlucky loser to Churchill in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket last month but got his revenge on that rival. After becoming very unbalanced in the famous dip at Newmarket he went down by a narrow margin. However, he provided a welcome victory for Godolphin in the St James’ Palace on Tuesday. Sadly, Churchill didn’t look at his best when only managing fourth. I would personally love to see these two battle it out again to see who is the best colt over a mile of this year. Now throw Winter in there to represent the fillies and it would be one of the races of the season. Sadly, racing doesn’t always plan out that way but we can dream.
3. All too easy for Lady Aurelia in the Kings Stand.
Now before I proceed properly with my top three I must say it was an incredibly difficult decision. The three performances were all outstanding and could be easily interchanged. However there needs to be an order and Lady Aurelia takes this spot on the countdown. Representing the now seemingly ever-present Wesley Ward team from America, Lady Aurelia stormed to victory over the flying five furlongs. She broke well and never looked in danger. She produced some sight in last year’s Queen Mary but against the older sprinters this really was again some sight. Sadly, for Frankie Dettori injury prevented him taking the ride but connections were treated to a huge success. Wesley Ward describes her as a ‘once in a lifetime horse’ and I think that is fair.
2. Big heart from Orange in the Gold Cup.
The Gold Cup was a magnificent race with the eventual winner Big Orange going head to head with pre-race race favourite Order Of Saint George in the final stages. Big Orange was prominent throughout and answered James Doyle’s every question and continued finding for pressure. It was a performance full of heart and tenacity. Order Of Saint George looked like he would come and claim Big Orange inside the final furlong but it was not to be. The race had some final drama with Big Orange surviving a stewards enquiry to keep the victory. The two look likely to re-oppose in the Goodwood Cup and we will all be hoping for another classic battle.
1. Caravaggio denies Godolphin pair in the Commonwealth Cup.
In one of the most anticipated races at the festival Caravaggio took on Blue Point and Harry Angel for Godolphin. The preceding six furlongs certainly did not disappoint with Harry Angel blazing a trail in front. It looked at one point like favourite Caravaggio might be in trouble but the turn of foot which he showed was nothing short of amazing. Trainer Aiden O’Brien describes him as the fastest horse he has ever trained and that is high praise for a trainer who has had so many good horses. O’Brien earmarked the richest sprint in the world, The Everest in Australia, as a potential target for the end of the season and seemed keen to suggest there was plenty more to come from the son of Scat Daddy. A scary prospect for any potential opponents given the three-year-old is unbeaten and a two-time Royal Ascot winner.