It’s the fifth and final day of Royal Ascot on Saturday and midway through the third day the races to be the top jockey and trainer were still far from over. John Gosden and Frankie Dettori took the honours at the start of the meeting but Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore bounced back with winners on Thursday. There are six races on each of the five days so 30 races up for grabs during the best Flat meeting in the world.
The most famous racing fixture in the sport features eight Group 1 races and 18 Group races in total. The most prestigious race of the summer festival is the Gold Cup. It is the longest championship race at Royal Ascot and the winner will have an influence on who is the leading jockey and trainer. The market leaders were Order Of St George for O’Brien and Moore and Stradivarius for Gosden and Dettori. The latter won an epic race so the trainer and jockey are in good shape to win the leading training and riding honours.
Royal Ascot used to be a four day meeting and the Saturday fixture was called Ascot heath. There was always the odd race goer who thought it was still the royal meeting and turned up in top hat and tails. They probably looked a bit conspicuous amongst those attending in regular clothes. The Saturday of the week is now part of Royal Ascot and the racing justifies that status, especially in the form of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes which is a Group 1 contest over six furlongs.
The race often identifies the best sprinter in Europe in the first half of the season and sometimes even the best in the world. There are some speedy animals racing in the Southern Hemisphere but the journey to Ascot is sometimes seen to be too long and potentially unsettling. However, Redkirk Warrior has made the trek from Australia and connections are confident their horse can win the race. The dual Newmarket Handicap winner will be ridden by Dettori in attempting to become the first winner of the race from Australia since Black Caviar in 2012.
Merchant Navy is an ex-Australia based horse who is now owned by Coolmore and trained in Ireland by O’Brien. The horse finished a neck behind Redkirk Warrior when third in this year’s Newmarket Handicap at Flemington in March. Merchant Navy was going best at the end of the race and can reverse the form. US Sprinter Bound For Nowhere represents North America and could be the fly in the ointment but that is speculation rather than based on proven form.
Limato and Librasa Breeze have something to find on recent form but the former has better prospects based on Group 1 runs in the past. Limato looked like a world-beater four seasons ago but hasn’t quite built on that potential. His best efforts have come in races over six furlongs so the horse has the speed to figure. However, Harry Angel has produced the best sprint form in the last year.
With Redkirk Warrior and Merchant Navy in particular involved Harry Angel won’t have things his own way in the Saturday feature and the race distance is not ideal but class can prevail. The horse is the ante post favourite but no challenge has been beyond him recently and he can enhance his reputation even further by adding another race at the highest level to his record. To record a win Harry Angel will have to finish in front of The Tin Man the horse that won the race last year. Harry Angel is good enough to win the 2018 Diamond Jubilee Stakes.