So another year at Royal Ascot has passed and what a week it was. Some fantastic action on the track despite the less than ideal weather conditions. We take a look back at some of the stars who graced the hallowed Ascot Racecourse turf during a memorable Royal Meeting.
Tepin – Queen Anne Stakes – Tuesday
The five-days of action kicked-off with the Queen Anne Stakes and it didn’t take long for the packed crowds to see a special performance.
American superstar mare Tepin was thought of as one of the week’s bankers ahead of the Queen Anne Stakes, but with heavy rain falling before the meeting, the softened ground pushed the Breeders’ Cup Mile winner was ousted from the top of the market.
But the fears about the ground were quickly dispelled as the five-year-old produced a majestic performance. Racing in a good position throughout she always seemed to be travelling powerfully; just over a furlong out she took up the running, staying on well to deny Lockinge winner Belardo in second.
The victory made Tepin the first horse from outside Europe to win the Royal Ascot opener and her owner Robert Masterson praised his superstar saying: “She is the best thing in the world. It’s all her, we just represent her. She is fantastic and she did a fantastic job again today.
“People say the Americans need to have drugs in their horses. Well she had no drugs in her, no nasal strip, nothing. It’s a great message to send back home.”
Not a bad way to kick-off the week.
Lady Aurelia – Queen Mary Stakes – Wednesday
The USA struck again on day two of Royal Ascot as Lady Aurelia produced what many considered to be not just one of the best performances of the week but one of the most breathtaking in Ascot’s recent history.
In what appeared to be a decent renewal of the six-furlong juvenile contest, Wesley Ward’s charge was sent-off as the 2-1 favourite; and the punters faith was rewarded in stunning fashion. Frankie Dettori immediately sent the filly into a quick lead and she never looked back.
As the field entered the final furlong-and-a-half Dettori pushed the button and Lady Aurelia responded in spectacular style, surging clear of the field. As she crossed the line she was seven-lengths clear and the crowd were blown away.
After the race Dettori said: “That was breathtaking from the top. To win by seven lengths at Royal Ascot was sensational and I’ve never seen or experienced anything like it especially for a two-year-old.”
Order Of St George – Ascot Gold Cup – Thursday
The feature race of Ladies Day of Royal Ascot 2016 was the Ascot Gold Cup and it went the way of Aidan O’Brien and Order Of St George, who gave him his seventh win in the race.
The race attracted a post-war record field with 18-runners going to post, but the buzz was all about one horse. Order Of St George was a superb winner of the Irish St Leger in 2015, but there were doubts over his stamina for this marathon contest. But under the masterful Ryan Moore he took it all in his stride.
Settled in midfield throughout, the five-year-old was given a beautifully patient ride by Moore who knew he had a class horse underneath him. There was a bit of trouble in-running as Moore looked to switch his ride to the outside but once he got out he never looked back.
Heading into the straight Order Of St George still had plenty in the tank and he stayed on powerfully to win by three-lengths.
Dartmouth – Hardwicke Stakes – Saturday
Entering the final day of Royal Ascot, The Queen was still awaiting her first winner of the week, but that wait came to an end on Saturday as Dartmouth took the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes for Sir Michael Stoute.
The Chester May Festival winner wasn’t particularly well-fancied ahead of the race but under French jockey Olivier Peslier he produced a career best performance; in a race where the market principles failed to fire.
Two-furlongs out the four-year-old began to make smooth headway to join the leaders, eventually entering a titanic tussle with Highland Reel. The pair appeared to clash on the run-in but Dartmouth always seemed to going the best and got-up by a head on the line.
The victory drew the biggest cheer of the week from the Ascot crowd as Her Majesty The Queen celebrated her 90th birthday with a first Royal Ascot winner since 2013 when Estimate took the Gold Cup.
What a perfect way to end a spectacular week.
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