The Queen won the Hardwicke Stakes with Dartmouth at Royal Ascot
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By David Ashforth 19:15PM 16 OCT 2016
CHAMPIONS DAY was, it grieves me to say, a disgrace. Her Majesty the Queen did not have a runner at Ascot. The only consolation is that a major shake-up of the Queen’s breeding operation is about to be launched. The Royal Studs have advertised for a new manager. Once my appointment is confirmed, the Royal future will look much brighter.
Facts have to be faced and the fact is that things are not as they should be. The glorious Classic winning days of Carroza and Pall Mall, Highclere and Dunfermline now lie in the distant past, as do most of the Queen’s Royal Ascot winners. In the last 25 years only Estimate has carried the Queen’s colours to a Group 1 success, when winning the 2013 Ascot Gold Cup.
Estimate was bred by the Aga Khan and was a birthday present to the Queen, whose current star, Dartmouth, trying for his first Group 1 success at Woodbine on Sunday, was bred by Darley. The home-bred Recorder won a Group 3 race last year but prior to that the Queen’s most recent home bred Group race winner was Banknote in 2007 and, before that, Interlude and Blueprint in 2000.
Almost all the Queen’s runners are home bred and, although they win races, they rarely win big ones. The Queen has run 27 horses a total of 112 times on the Flat this year, 23 of her runners home bred. Sixteen have won a total of 23 races. Thirteen of the winners, accounting for 18 wins, have been home bred. They are respectable figures but this year the most valuable race won by a horse bred by the Queen was a Listed race at York worth £22,684, won by Diploma.
Times, as you may have noticed yourself, have changed since the Queen became Queen and competition is now considerably fiercer and more costly. The Queen rarely ventures into the sales ring but this year saw the debut of her three-year-old Labyrinth, bought by John Warren, the Queen’s bloodstock and racing advisor, for 260,000 guineas as a yearling. From five starts, Labyrinth has so far won a Class 5 maiden race at Salisbury. Not that there’s any shame in that; it’s commonplace among costly purchases.
Anyway, I’m confident that by Her Majesty’s 100th birthday Buckingham Palace will be awash with Group 1 trophies. It’s a measure of the need for change that the advertisement for a new Royal Studs manager requires “a sound knowledge of spelling horses”. Quite right too. How many times has a bookmaker refused to pay you out because you’ve misspelt the winner’s name?
There are some very odd names nowadays but the Queen can rest assured that there won’t be any spelling mistakes on my watch! We’ll clear out all the present bloodstock and reach an arrangement with Coolmore to have some of theirs. Job done!
In the meantime, it would be nice if Timekeeping (Pontefract 4.10) gave champion apprentice Josephine Gordon a win on her first ride for Godolphin.