Ashforth's Angles: The rarest of royal runners at Chepstow


Dartmouth: won the Hardwicke Stakes on Saturday for the Queen

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (  

 By David Ashforth 6:00PM 19 JUN 2016 

WHEN the Queen won the Hardwicke Stakes with Dartmouth on Saturday it was unusual, but not as unusual as the Queen’s representative at Chepstow on Monday.

Most of the Queen’s horses are bred by the Queen. Of the 19 to have run in her colours this year only three, Dartmouth, Make Fast and Labyrinth, were not bred by her. So the trio are in a small minority but Labyrinth, who runs in the Equestrian Surfaces Maiden Fillies’ race (2.30) is, if not unique, then almost unique. (Note for pedants. While acknowledging that something cannot be almost unique – it is either unique or not unique – I’m going to write it anyway.)

Don’t correct me if I’m wrong but the Queen doesn’t buy horses at the Sales. It’s something one simply doesn’t do. Neither Dartmouth nor Make Fast were bought at the Sales; her horses never are. (Additional note for pedants. Yes, I know, see below.) Last year the Queen ran 34 horses; 29 were home bred and none of the other five were obtained at the Sales.

Yet in the autumn of 2014 John Warren, the Queen’s bloodstock adviser, must have said to her, “Ma’am, there’s the most lovely Lawman filly. I know it’s rather against the house rules but I feel I must recommend buying her, if possible.”

“I see,” the Queen perhaps replied. “How much did you say?”

“260,000 guineas, ma’am.”

“Everything’s so expensive nowadays, isn’t it? I suppose I could sell one of those stamps from grandfather’s stamp collection. With a bit of luck no one will notice.”

So, at Tattersalls October 2014 Sales J Warren Bloodstock bought Labyrinth and if, having run very promisingly on her debut at Kempton last month, Labyrinth doesn’t win a weak looking maiden at Chepstow, Warren and trainer Sir Michael Stoute will have some explaining to do.

“I can only apologise profusely, ma’am,” one imagines Warren pleading. “I should never have advised your Majesty to have your maximum on but Sir Michael was very confident. There’ll have to be a change of plan, I’m afraid. Sir Michael says there’s a selling race at Southwell.”

Labyrinth will be a horribly short price but if she can’t beat this lot ….. I suggest you put your house on. If you haven’t got one, then whatever you have got. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? Suicide?

Sadly, the Queen doesn’t have a runner in the Amateur Riders’ Selling Stakes at Wolverhampton (6.10). It’s a teasing contest in which course and distance lover Yasir is likely to fare better than the weights suggest; Ventura Castle should welcome a return to something he has shown he can win (Flat sellers) to things he can’t (hurdle races); and Singular Quest has a realistic chance of ending his status as a maiden (0-13). As always, it depends on the prices.

Meanwhile, at Chepstow (4.00, 4.30, 5.00) and Windsor (8.50), the excellent Josephine Gordon faces a new challenge. It’s her first day with her claim reduced to 3lb. Can she maintain her momentum? I hope so.

Horse Racing News | Racing Post

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