Royal Ascot 2013 closes today (Saturday, June 22) and on today’s card is the prestigious DIAMOND JUBILEE. As well, the HARDWICKE promises to be a corker with some really good older horses in the running.
HARDWICKE STAKES (GROUP 2, 4YR. OLDS +. DISTANCE 1m, 4 f)
Trainer Luca Cumani’s Mount Athos (2007) is the acknowledged favourite here. The 6 yr. old son of the late, great Montjeu comes into the Hardwicke with a career record of 20-7-0-1 and has won over every conceivable surface. The sentimental favourite, however, will be Lady Cecil’s Noble Mission (2009), who is a full brother to Frankel and will have Tom Queally aboard. While in no way Frankel’s equal, Noble Mission has shown great improvement since last year and won at this distance last time out. Below is a look at Noble Mission from a year ago, racing at Newmarket:
Another interesting colt is Universal (2009) by Dubawi, whose BM sire is the mighty Giant’s Causeway. Universal has won his last 3 starts at this distance. John Gosden’s Aiken (2008) is another who shouldn’t be overlooked. The bay son of Selkirk has raced over 2 miles in his career of 10 starts and although he hasn’t won since this time last year, he came in second last time out and has the brilliant William Buick to pilot him home in a relatively small field. Trainer Sir Michael Stoute, who should never be overlooked, runs a 4 yr.old son of Investic Derby winner Sir Percy, called Sir John Hawkwood (2009). This horse won his last 2 starts at the Hardwicke distance and runs over any surface, so Sir John might well be a threat. Finally, Roger Varian runs Ektihaam (2009) , a 4 yr. old son of Invincible Spirit, who can be counted on to come strongly at the finish.
This is a very evenly-matched field, making for a really exciting race.
DIAMOND JUBILEE STAKES (GROUP 1, part of the BRITISH CHAMPIONS SERIES, 3YR. OLDS + DISTANCE: 6 f)
The Diamond Jubilee is for sprinters and this year’s gang should give racing fans a good deal of excitement as they roar towards the finish.
Installed as favourite is the popular Society Rock (2007), a 6 yr. old son of super-horse, Rock of Gibraltor (1999). “The Rock” — as Rock of Gibraltor was called in his racing days — was a staggeringly good, solid competitor, who won seven Group 1′s in a row, including the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas as well as the St. James Palace Stakes, retiring to Coolmore a millionaire. In 2002, “The Rock” was voted World Horse of the Year — and Society Rock, having earned almost a million BPS to date, is one of his best sons. What makes Society Rock rather unique in this field is that he carries two American Triple Crown winners in the fifth generation of his dam’s family: Secretariat and Chris Evert (who won the Triple Tiara). On this, the 40th anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown, it’s magical to realize that a descendant of “Big Red’s” will be tearing up the turf at Royal Ascot 2013.
Have a look here at Society Rock just nipping Gordon Lord Byron at the finish in the 2012 Betfred Sprint Cup:
A really exciting entry is the Australian mare, Sea Siren (2008) by Fastnet Rock (2001). A winner of over a 1 million (AUS), Sea Siren has made 15 starts, with a record of 6-3-1, with the result that she starts as third favourite in the betting. She will have the services of crack jockey, Ryan Moore and races for Coolmore. Other fillies running are Intense Pink (2009), Rosdhu Queen (2010) and Mince (2009). Of these, Rosdhu Queen and Mince are the strongest, but neither is a match for Sea Siren if she runs true to form. She is a really wonderful mare. Check out her storming home in the Hong Kong Gr. 1 Manikato Stakes in October 2012.
Gordon Lord Byron (2008) by Byron is another highly-regarded entry. The gelding’s career record stands at 20-4-6-3 and he’s a 6f specialist who’s last win came in March at Dundalk. Although he’s lost this year to Society Rock, Maarek (2007) is a veteran who has already earned over a quarter of a million in his 27 starts. Primed in June at 5f where he finished second, Maarek looks ready to run a very good race. The grey, Lethal Force (2009), ran second to Society Rock last time out in May over 6f and is already a winner at this distance. His pedigree favours a shorter distance and he may very well be the one to give Society Rock and Sea Siren a battle toward the finish.
It will be interesting to see if the Aussies can grab a Group 1 again this year at Royal Ascot.