Irish Influence Rules Royal Ascot

Irish Influence Rules Royal Ascot Jubilant scenes as CRYSTAL BLACK (IRE) wins the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes

Royal Ascot 2024 made for heady viewing from an Irish standpoint. Of the meeting’s 35 winners, 21 were bred in Ireland. Ten winners were Irish-trained, six from the meeting’s leading trainer Aidan O’Brien, plus four more individual yards.

Six of the week’s eight Group One races were Irish-bred. In the juvenile division, five of the six winners were bred in Ireland. Tally up all the Group races during the week and IRE horses won 13 of the 19 on offer. Royal Ascot is the pinnacle of Flat racing. Irish racehorses and those devoted to them are leading the field.


The Queen Anne Stakes, as ever the first race of the meeting, a Group One down the straight mile, began with CHARYN (IRE) proving much too powerful for his opposition. He can safely be described as Europe’s best older miler at this juncture. The grey four-year-old gets his looks from his sire Dark Angel (IRE), based at Yeomanstown Stud, and was bred by Guy O’Callaghan at nearby Grangemore Stud in County Kildare.

Next up came the Coventry Stakes, a Group Two over six furlongs. In a result that blew market expectations asunder, the winner by a nose was RASHABAR (IRE) priced at 80-1. Nostalgia surrounded the famous Robert Sangster silks returning the winner’s enclosure at Royal Ascot, now the property of Manton Thoroughbreds, run by the late tycoon’s son Sam. Fittingly, considering the colours, a stallion from Coolmore Stud was responsible for the winner, Holy Roman Emperor (IRE).

The St James’s Palace Stakes, Group One for 3yos on the round course, arrived with ‘race of the meeting’ billing and it did not disappoint, even if the 2,000 Guineas hero, Notable Speech, fluffed his lines. Instead, the horse that ran second at Newmarket and later won the Irish equivalent, ROSALLION (IRE) assumed the mantle of leading 3yo miler, grinding down Henry Longfellow (IRE) from Ballydoyle by a neck. Bred by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid al Maktoum and declared ‘the best I have trained’ by Richard Hannon, Rosallion (IRE) is by Blue Point (IRE), standing at Darley’s Kildangan Stud.

More success originating in Kildare followed. Gilltown Stud’s Sea The Stars (IRE) chipped in with IPLEDGEALLEGIANCE (IRE) always to the fore in the Ascot Stakes over 2m4f in the colours of the Bahrain-based Victorious Racing and trained by Sir Mark Prescott.

Day One concluded with the now traditional Willie Mullins-trained stayer being well backed and sending legions of punters home happy. BELLOCCIO warmed up for victory in the Copper Horse Handicap – a race the Closutton handler won 12 months prior with Vauban – with a maiden hurdle success at Punchestown at the end of May, his first start for the stable.


Much of the talk in the build-up to the meeting centred on Wathnan Racing, the racing stable of the Emir of Qatar, which had spent large sums on a whole host of genuine Royal Ascot winning chances in the weeks prior. They had gone close on the first day but wasted little time on Day Two to get on the board via LEOVANNI (IRE) in the Group Two Queen Mary over five furlongs for juvenile fillies. The winner was bred by the Carty family at Kilmoney Cottage Stud in County Kildare and is sired by Kodi Bear (IRE) at Rathbarry Stud in County Cork.

Ballydoyle registered a double on the day, sparked by ILLINOIS (IRE) in the Group Two Queen’s Vase over 1m6f for 3yos. By the late Galileo (IRE), the race favourite repelled his stablemate Highbury and Birdman (IRE) in a 1-2-3 trained in Ireland.

The day’s feature, the Group One Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, also went the way of the Coolmore partners and jockey Ryan Moore as AUGUSTE RODIN (IRE) displayed the best of his ability. This success was the 400th Group One of Aidan O’Brien’s career training on the Flat. Mind-boggling.

Sea The Stars (IRE) supplied his second winner in as many days when DOHA clicked in the Kensington Palace Stakes, a handicap for fillies. The final race of the day, the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes for juveniles over the minimum trip, delivered a terrific result for County Carlow stud Ballyhane as its homebred AIN’T NOBODY (IRE), sired by their own stallion Sands Of Mali, led inside the final 50 yards to snatch the prize.



The first eight home in the King George V Stakes, a handicap for 3yos over 12f, carried an IRE suffix, led by GOING THE DISTANCE (IRE) whose decisive kick from the tail of a big field could not be matched. The winner was homebred by Ballylinch Stud in County Kilkenny and sired by their celebrated perennial Lope De Vega (IRE).

Ballydoyle and Coolmore stole the spotlight for the next hour so, commencing with victory for PORT FAIRY (IRE) in the Group Two Ribblesdale Stakes for 3yo fillies over 12f. Whisperview Trading bred this daughter of Australia, just her fourth career start and previously a close second in the Listed Cheshire Oaks.

The most prestigious race of the entire meeting is the Ascot Gold Cup, Group One over 2m4f, and KYPRIOS (IRE) backed up his success two years prior after a compelling duel with Trawlerman (IRE). Sweet William (IRE) ran third.

Injury meant KYPRIOS (IRE) could not defend his crown a year back, but he has made up for lost time, winning all three starts this year and is undoubtedly the premier stayer once again. He carries the silks of his County Kildare-based breeder Moyglare Stud, while perpetuating the legacy of the peerless Galileo (IRE) and is out of the remarkable ‘blue hen’ Polished Gem (IRE), dam of eight stakes winners.

County Kildare horses kept kicking. Next came MICKLEY (IRE) bred by Oghill House Stud in Monasterevin, too strong in the Britannia Stakes, a handicap for 3yos down the straight mile. He is sired by Soldier’s Call and was a prescient private purchase by prominent Hong Kong owner Siu Pak-kwan in advance of his Royal Ascot date.
Irish-breds dominated the Group Three 10f Hampton Court Stakes with the first five past the post. JAYAREBE (IRE) led them home, sired by the late Zoffany (IRE), formerly of Coolmore Stud. The County Tipperary farm was again to the fore in the Buckingham Palace Stakes, a 7f handicap, when ENGLISH OAK, a son of Wootton Bassett, lived up to his billing as favourite.


“I gave her an impossible task and she got me out of a hole,” said Ryan Moore in the wake of the improbable victory by FAIRY GODMOTHER (IRE) in the Group 3 Albany Stakes over six furlongs. Behind midfield and repeatedly caught on heels behind a wall of horses and at least five lengths off the speed with two furlongs to race, the chestnut daughter of Kildangan Stud stallion Night Of Thunder (IRE) appeared to have no chance.

That she would find another run and win by three-quarters of a length was quite something and her potential is immense. Fairy Godmother (IRE) was by bred by Ballyphilip Stud in County Limerick.

PORTA FORTUNA (IRE) collected the biggest prize on Friday, the Group 1 Coronation Stakes for 3yo fillies on the round mile. There isn’t a classier or more consistent filly in her division, so the title was well earned against the pick of her peers.

Trained by Donnacha O’Brien and raised by his family’s breeding operation, Whisperview Trading, Porta Fortuna was winning at the Royal meeting for the second time; she won the Albany as a juvenile, and she was never finished out of the first three in nine starts, winning five times, two of those at the highest level.

From an emotional perspective, one Irish victory during the week stood out and that was CRYSTAL BLACK (IRE) in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes for trainer Gerry Keane and coolly ridden by his son Colin.

“It’s the biggest kick I have got from a winner in a long time,” said the multiple champion jockey after his mount won by over two lengths in the 12f handicap with owners the Wear A Pink Ribbon Syndicate roaring them home.
Crystal Black (IRE), bred by Moyglare Stud and sired by Teofilo (IRE) at Kildangan Stud, has now won five of his last six starts for the Keanes, from a mark of 77 to well into the triple figures by the time he is reassessed this week.

Coolmore kept the winners ticking over. Starspangledbanner landed with SOPRANO (IRE) in the Sandringham Stakes, a handicap for 3yo fillies down the straight mile. She was bred by Noralla Stud in South Tipperary and purchased by Stauffenberg Bloodstock at the Goffs November Foal Sale for €45,000.

Gleneagles (IRE) was another Coolmore stallion to contribute via the French-trained CALANDAGAN (IRE) who bolted up by six lengths in the ‘Ascot Derby’ the Group Two King Edward VII Stakes in the Aga Khan silks.



Comparisons to all-time greats are unfair to any horse, but parallels were drawn regardless after BEDTIME STORY (IRE) routed the Listed Chesham Stakes field by nine and a half lengths. Her sire Frankel had won the Queen Anne in his day by 11 lengths and Royal Ascot winners by these sort of margins – especially over 7f for juveniles – are both rare and exceptional. Coolmore bred this daughter of Group One sprinter Mecca’s Angel.

The Group Two Hardwicke Stakes was very strongly contested but resulted in a clearcut success for ISLE OF JURA and a ringing endorsement for Bahrain racing. The son of New Approach, now repatriated to breeder Jim Bolger’s Redmondstown Stud in County Wexford, won the Bahrain Triple Crown over the winter for his owners Victorious Racing from the same jurisdiction.

A second Group One of the week for Dark Angel (IRE) and Yeomanstown Stud arrived when KHAADEM (IRE) again saved his best for the QEII Jubilee Stakes over six. Last year his success in the same race at odds of 80-1 might have been considered a one-off, but you can’t level the same accusation when it happens a second time. The first four home were Irish-bred.

The Group Three Jersey Stakes over 7f came next and this was possibly the strongest ever edition of the race and went to HAATEM (IRE) by a whisker to boost the credentials of Rosallion (IRE) who had touched him off in the Irish 2000 Guineas a month prior and subsequently won a Group One earlier in the week.

Haatem (IRE) is a great advertisement for the Irish National Stud stallion Phoenix Of Spain (IRE) and he was offered unsold by breeders Hyde Park Stud for just €27,000 at Goffs November Foals in 2021.

The meeting concluded with further Coolmore influences over the winners. HAND OF GOD (IRE), a son of Churchill (IRE), looked classy in the Golden Gates Handicap at 10f, the penultimate race. Finally, the longest Flat race on these islands, the Queen Alexandra Stakes over 2m5½f, resulted in another Royal victory for the immortal Galileo (IRE) through UXMAL (IRE), trained by Joseph O’Brien for owner/breeders the Niarchos Family and their Flaxman Stables operation. Jockey Dylan Browne McMonagle was enjoying his first winner at the great fixture.

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