ASCOT, United Kingdom: Queen Elizabeth II celebrated the final day of Royal Ascot in dream style as Dartmouth took the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes to give her a belated 90th birthday present in her favored sport.
The monarch — for whom Dartmouth was the final chance of a win as her other runners in the most prestigious race meeting in England had failed to find royal favor — made the last of her previous 22 visits as a winning owner when Estimate won an epic Ascot Gold Cup in 2013.
The victory was memorable too for winning trainer Michael Stoute who equaled his late great rival Henry Cecil’s post-World War II record of 75 winners at the Royal meeting.
Master Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien set a personal record of seven winners at the meeting as he recorded a final day double and with 55 winners under his belt the 46-year-old has time enough to equal the mark of Cecil and Stoute.
His stable jockey Ryan Moore also had a day to remember, after a forgettable Friday, as he rode a treble for the third time in his career at Royal Ascot and ended the week with six winners.
He did though miss out on the queen’s winner as he opted for the other Stoute runner.
She greeted the victory with a grin of delight alongside her racing manager John Warren in the Royal Box but then had to survive a stewards inquiry for possible interference with Irish raider Highland Reel.
“This is the Olympics to even have a horse run here let alone win is fantastic,” said Warren, after the queen had stepped up to receive the trophy from her granddaughter Princess Beatrice.
“This means a lot to the queen. Halfway through the race she turned to me and said ‘things are going well’ although that final furlong was a tough one to endure!” he added.
The 70-year-old Stoute took the news of equaling Cecil’s record in his stride.
“That’s great. I hope I don’t stop there,” said the 70-year-old Barbados-born handler.
Henry Candy, unlike O’Brien or Stoute, has not found the winners enclosure a familiar destination.
However, the popular trainer had reason to visit it for the first time since 1979 (Pipedream in the Royal Hunt Cup) as he took the feature race of the final day, the Diamond Jubilee Stakes with Twilight Son.
Moore was once again at his brilliant best having the strength to told off the fast-finishing Hong Kong raider Gold-Run.
“He’s a strong character, he doesn’t even want to come back into the enclosure” Candy said of the winner. “I haven’t ever come here (since 1979) thinking I’m going to have a winner.”
O’Brien’s Churchill produced a magisterial performance in the opening Chesham Stakes.
“He’s a bit of a baby of a horse and I was a bit worried when he went left but then he corrected himself,” said O’Brien.
Moore said the horse, who earned quotes of 12/1 for next year’s 2000 Guineas, possessed a raw talent.
“He’s a big powerful horse, a beautiful horse, but he’s very green,” said Moore.
O’Brien and Moore were celebrating again half an hour later as Sir Isaac Newton produced a gutsy performance to win the Wolferton Handicap and repay a tiny part of the 3.8 million guineas (£4 million) he cost as a yearling in 2013.
“I never doubted his talent it was just he was really immature mentally,” said O’Brien, setting a personal record of seven winners for him at Royal Ascot.
“It’s been a marvelous week you’re never sure how it is going to go. Some you think will run well will not and others will run above expectations.” AFP