May 26, 2024

Breeders’ Cup WAYI Diamond Jubilee headlines Royal Ascot finale

Royal Ascot scenic (c) Sorge

Saturday’s final day of Royal Ascot features three Group races, with the Diamond Jubilee S. (G1) the main attraction. The six-furlong prize is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, offering a fees-paid spot in the Turf Sprint (G1) at Del Mar. The Hardwicke S. (G2) is contested over twice that trip, while the Jersey S. (G3) for sophomores and Chesham S. for juveniles are both at seven furlongs.

As of Monday’s entry stage, here’s how the closing-day highlights are shaping up.

Third time’s the charm for Dream of Dreams in Diamond Jubilee?

In the past two runnings of the Diamond Jubilee, Dream of Dreams has flown late to miss by a head. The Sir Michael Stoute veteran almost upset Blue Point in 2019, and last year, he prompted déjà vu when nearly catching Hello Youmzain. The Dream Ahead gelding hopes that the third time is the charm.

Early favorite Starman, 4-for-5 lifetime, is making his first appearance at the Royal meeting. Although his lone loss came at Ascot on Champions Day, when up the track behind Glen Shiel in the Oct. 17 British Champions Sprint (G1), that was a bog. Starman renewed his upward trajectory by taking the May 12 Duke of York S. (G2) over fellow up-and-comer Nahaarr and several other Diamond Jubilee rivals, including talented Art Power, Abernant S. (G3) scorer Summerghand, and Al Quoz S. (G1) runner-up Final Song.

Also engaged are horse-for-the-course Cape Byron and smart Irish mare Sonaiyla. Cape Byron won the 2019 Wokingham H. and Bengough S. (G3) here. Sonaiyla, a close third in last fall’s Flying Five (G1) at the Curragh, finds this trip more in her wheelhouse.

Hardwicke will produce King George contenders

The 1 1/2-mile Hardwicke is a stepping stone to the July 24 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth S. (G1). A grand total of 19 remains eligible at this point, and the field will be reduced by Thursday’s final declaration stage.

Aidan O’Brien’s Broome heads the antepost market, while fellow Ballydoyle possibles are full brothers Mogul and Japan, as well as Tiger Moth and the filly Passion. Shadwell has two in the line-up, but Hukum is the one expected while Al Aasy plots another path to the King George. It’s a similar story with Pyledriver, who was kept in the Hardwicke but intends to wait for next month.

The top two from the 2019 St Leger (G1), Logician and Sir Ron Priestley, could renew rivalry. Wonderful Tonight, last seen conquering the British Champions Fillies & Mares (G1) at this course and distance, would be intriguing if enough rain comes. Veteran Bangkok, streaking Ilaraab, and highly regarded Highest Ground are likewise notables on the list.

Jersey colored blue

Godolphin will hold a strong hand in the Jersey with the Charlie Appleby duo of Naval Crown and Creative Force. Naval Crown cuts back in trip following a fourth in the 2000 Guineas (G1), and Creative Force steps up a furlong after extending his winning streak to three in the Carnarvon S. If he hadn’t been gelded, Creative Force would have been in Friday’s Commonwealth Cup (G1).

But another variety of Maktoum blue, sported by Shadwell’s Mutasaabeq, could reign supreme. Most recently seventh in the Guineas, the Charlie Hills pupil had been smashing in his previous start at this distance. Roger Varian’s Legion of Honour is another dropping down from a ninth in the Newmarket classic.

Others among the 27 possibles are Royal Lodge S. (G2) winner New Mandate, unraced since flopping in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1); Surrey S. scorer Mehmento; Prix Djebel (G3) victor Fast Raaj; unbeaten King Charles II S. heroine Bellosa; and Nando Parrado, last summer’s 150-1 Coventry S. (G2) shocker.

Coolmore versus Godolphin in Chesham

The Chesham promises to be another chapter in the longstanding rivalry between global powerhouses. Coolmore’s Point Lonsdale, a full brother to Broome, romped in his debut at the Curragh. Godolphin’s New Science beat The Queen’s Reach for the Moon at Yarmouth.

Juveniles looking to bust the narrative include Goodwood debut winner Masekela for Andrew Balding; Nottingham hero Love de Vega, who tops a Mark Johnston trio; and Michael Bell’s Newbury scorer Great Max.