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2020 Royal Ascot Recap - Five of the best, and five of the worst

  • We take a look back at the 2020 Royal Ascot meeting
  • Picking out five of the best performances of the week
  • And five horses who failed to shine
the lir jet
Oisin Murphy on The Lir Jet wins the Norfolk Stakes on day four of the Royal Ascot horse racing meet, in Ascot, west of London, on June 19, 2020, which is taking place behind 'closed doors' due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by MEGAN RIDGWELL / POOL / AFP) (Photo by MEGAN RIDGWELL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

In this 2020 Royal Ascot recap, we take a look back on five of the best performances, and five horses who failed to shine last week.

While the absence of fans did detract from the spectacle somewhat, Ascot and horse racing as a product can be proud who what they produced last week. Viewers were treated to five scintillating days of action, and there were a number of memorable performances to look back on.

Stradivarius was the obvious star of the week, surging ten lengths clear to seal a hat-trick of Gold Cup victories in stunning fashion. Battaash was the other powerhouse to enforce his global reputation, making all to claim an overdue victory in the King’s Stand Stakes.

Let’s take a look at five horses who boosted their standing in the sport with excellent victories at Royal Ascot, and five who simply failed to produce the goods.

2020 Royal Ascot Recap - Best Performances


Frankly Darling


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Last week proved, to anyone who needed any further evidence to the fact, that Frankie Dettori rides Ascot better than anyone. The first of his six victories at 2020 Royal Ascot also happened to be his most impressive, as FRANKLY DARLING powered to victory in the Ribblesdale Stakes.

John Gosden’s filly came into the race on the back of a solitary maiden triumph, but looked a seasoned Group-level performer as she powered clear of the competition and comfortably held the late-closers at arm’s length. Gosden couldn’t have hoped for a better trial for the Oaks, and Frankly Darling could be the one to side with at Epsom.

Khaloosy


Jim Crowley, Roger Varian and Hamdan Al Maktoum were flying during the opening three days of Royal Ascot. However, even without that momentum they had built behind them, I doubt there would have been any stopping KHALOOSY in the Britannia Handicap. 

Crowley’s mount always travelled powerfully as he tracked the pace setters, and fair flew home once his jockey asked him for a serious effort. Khaloosy’s closing sectionals were superb, and he’ll certainly step up into Group race company next time out. The Thoroughbred Stakes, or even the Lennox Stakes over seven furlongs at Glorious Goodwood, look likely options for this talented three-year-old.

khaloosy
Khaloosy bolts up in the Britannia Stakes Handicap. (Getty)

Art Power


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Another handicapper who showed the class and quality of a pattern-race performer was ART POWER. Tim Easterby’s sprinter carried a price tag of 6/4 into the Palace Of Holyrood House Handicap, and subsequently blew his rivals out of the water with a superb display of speed and power.

Connections announced they were eying a tilt at the Nunthorpe, and a clash with Battaash, on the back of that stunning triumph. The two could also lock horns in the King George at Glorious Goodwood. Whether Art Power is up to that standard just yet, only time will tell, but it’s clear King Power Racing having a wonderful prospect on their hands.

The Lir Jet


Having broken the all-age track record over five furlongs at Yarmouth on debut, Qatar Racing opened their chequebook to purchase THE LIR JET. A terrible draw in stall one saw Oisin Murphy’s mount go off at 9/2 in the Norfolk Stakes last Friday, but Michael Bell’s youngster produced a fantastic display to reel in US Raider, Golden Pal and snatch victory under the shadow of the post.

For me, considering his draw and the amount of ground he had to make up in the final two furlongs, The Lir Jet’s victory in the Norfolk was the best two-year-old performance of the week. Bell might already have one eye on the Middle Park Stakes, come the end of the 2020 season.

Golden Horde


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This may be a tad biased, considering he was my selection that day, but I thought GOLDEN HORDE’S victory in the Commonwealth Cup was superb. Adam Kirby took his mount straight to the front, and no other runner - in what had looked a stacked field - could lay a glove on Clive Cox’s sprinter, who stayed on powerfully to win by a length-and-a-half.

Golden Horde has proven himself versatile - both tactically and with regards to the ground – classy and very quick during his short career so far. Clive Cox knows exactly how to get the best out of sprinters. The likes of Hello Youmzain and Sceptical will have to watch their backs, as Golden Horde looks bound for the July Cup.

2020 Royal Ascot Recap - Worst Performances


Mogul


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I was expecting MOGUL to be fully wound up and raring to go in the King Edwards VII Stakes, and that certainly proved to be the case. Aidan O’Brien’s colt looked to be carrying plenty of condition as he entered the stalls and Ryan Moore settled for a spot near the rear. Mogul tried to make up some late ground, but looked tired as he eventually crossed the line fourth.

His full brother, Japan produced a similar performance in the Dante, before enjoying an excellent three-year-old campaign. It’s too late to write Mogul off but, considering he went into Ascot as Aidan O’Brien’s leading Derby contender, it was a still a forgettable display. 

Japan


In contrast, I was expecting JAPAN to produce his best in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. Despite the fact he needed his opening run in 2019, Aidan O’Brien never sends undercooked runners into Group Ones - especially his older horses - and ground conditions seemed to be in the favourite’s favour.

There were signs of worry right at the start, however, as Japan sweated up profusely. Ryan Moore’s mount went on to miss the kick, before working his way to the front of the field within the first three furlongs. When push came to shove, Japan had nothing left in the tank in the closing stages and was powerless to deny Lord North. Japan will have to improve significantly if he wants to challenge in the King George and the Juddmonte International.

hardwicke stakes
Elarqam (right) labours home as Fanny Logan (left) wins the Hardwicke Stakes.

Elarqam


Take nothing away from Fanny Logan, who ran out a comfortable winner, but this year’s Hardwicke Stakes was an absolute mess of a race. Mark Johnston’s Communique set a hot-pace out in front, and allowed his well-backed stablemate, ELARQAM to pull onto his shoulder as the field turned for home.

I thought Elarqam would be a non-stayer over 12 furlongs before the race and, what followed, certainly proved that. Elarqam was already one-paced at the two pole, and the fact Communique stopped quickly too hindered the likes of Anthony Van Dyck and Defoe, who were directly behind them off the rail, allowing Fanny Logan to fly home on the outside and claim victory.

Pierre Lapin


The talking horse heading into the Commonwealth Cup was PIERRE LAPIN, who won both of his starts during 2019. Roger Varian’s Gimcrack winner was usurped at the head of the market by Lope Y Fernandez before the off, but the 7/2 shot was still expected to challenge.

Andrea Atzeni’s mount didn’t get off to the worst start, and looked to be travelling well in the pack down the centre of the track. Pierre Lapin was asked for an effort as the pace began to quicken up, but there was absolutely no response. Atzeni had already given up the ghost with two furlongs to travel, and Pierre Lapin trailed over the line stone-dead last.

Quadrilateral


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It was only the dismal display of favourite QUADRILATERAL that stopped me putting Alpine Star in the “Best Performances” section. I really fancied Roger Charlton’s filly to go well, having stayed on for third in the Guineas, but it was a performance that would have left all involved scratching their head.

Jason Watson’s mount made stylish progress through the race, and looked to be travelling best entering the straight. Quadrilateral didn’t react very well when Watson drew for the whip. Her head flew back, and she hung right into Cloak Of Spirits - two moves you would expect to see from a juvenile filly on debut, not a Group One winner.

Quadrilateral may have finished third but, again, she didn’t seem like she genuinely wanted to get involved in a battle - a worrying sign for connections moving forward.

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