The Platinum Jubilee S. (G1) served as the feature event on closing day of the 2022 Royal Ascot meet in England, and the six-furlong sprint didn’t disappoint, producing a thrilling drive to the finish line.
Multiple runners were in with chances down the lane, but in the end it was longshot Naval Crown who edged stablemate Creative Force by a neck to give Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby a 1-2 finish. The two runners were separated by more than half the width of the course, with Naval Crown on the near side employing tracking tactics and a strong finish to get the nod.
“At halfway I just got a lovely draft into the race behind Home Affairs, and he kind of dropped away around the 2 1/2 (furlong mark),” said winning jockey James Doyle. “We had to be pretty brave and kick for home, but Naval Crown has campaigned over further. We knew the last furlong would be a fair way, but he’s got the stamina in his legs from going further.”
Australian raider Artorius rallied late between rivals to finish in a dead-heat for third place with American filly Campanelle, who raced prominently to just miss recording her third victory at Royal Ascot. Sacred and Highfield Princess weren’t far behind either, while Happy Romance, Kinross, Alcohol Free, Run to Freedom, Double or Bubble, Diligent Harry, Minzaal, King’s Lynn, Emaraaty Ana, Gustavus Weston, A Case of You, Umm Kulthum, Grenadier Guards, Home Affairs, Garrus, Dragon Symbol, and Great Ambassador trailed the large field.
The outcome reversed the finish of the seven-furlong 2021 Jersey S. (G3) at Royal Ascot, in which Creative Force defeated Naval Crown over soft ground by 1 1/4 lengths. The good-to-firm going and shorter trip found in the Platinum Jubilee may have aided Naval Crown, whose only previous start over six furlongs resulted in a respectable fourth-place finish in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) abroad in Dubai.
“Both horses were in great nick,” said Appleby. “One thing that Naval Crown had coming into the race was that he was still learning the sprinting game. He’d only sprinted once in his life, and that was in the Al Quoz.
“… I see no reason why we shouldn’t be going to the July Cup (G1) now on what we’ve seen today. We hadn’t really planned beyond this—we thought we’d just be following the Australians home to be fair. It was a great ride by James. He said that at halfway that he knew he had to get over to that rail, keep hanging away there, and he knew he’d be in the hunt.”
Jersey S. (G3)
Naval Crown wasn’t the only Saturday winner for Godolphin and Appleby. The first Group stakes on the card was the Jersey for three-year-olds sprinting seven furlongs, in which Noble Truth carved out the pace under William Buick and dug deep late to defeat rallying longshot Find by one length.
Runner-up in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) as a juvenile, Noble Truth entered the Jersey off a six-length romp in the King Charles II S. in April at Newmarket. The Jersey marked Noble Truth’s first start as a gelding.
“You saw today compared to Noble Truth’s last run, when he was still a colt, that he was much more professional,” said Buick. “He has so much energy and today he was able to channel it in the right direction. He’s got lots of speed, but today I was able to ride him a little bit whereas in the past I have been a passenger. He’s always had plenty of ability, and hopefully that discipline will be the start of him fulfilling his potential.”
Appleby agreed with Buick’s assessment.
“Will gave him a peach of a ride there and you could see for the first half-mile that he was in a better rhythm and wasn’t quite as headstrong as he was at Newmarket. When he got headed, I thought it would be interesting, and I didn’t expect him to find the way he did.
“I am trying to find a horse for a race called the Golden Eagle in Australia in (October) and he might be the type of horse for it. We’ll start to make a plan.”
Hardwicke S. (G2)
Internationally renowned Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien reached a career milestone in the 1 1/2-mile Hardwicke S. (G2). The decisive victory recorded by Broome marked O’Brien’s 900th win in a Group stakes.
A Group 1 winner best known among U.S. racing fans for his runner-up effort in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), Broome left no doubt about his superiority in the Hardwicke, leading for much of the journey and pulling away under Ryan Moore to defeat Mostahdaf and favored Hurricane Lane by 3 1/4 lengths.
“It was a brilliant ride. Ryan has done an incredible job on Broome,” said O’Brien. “He is a six-year-old colt now and one very strange thing is that he seems to be coming to the peak of his career after all these years. He is by Australia and is very brave. We think we will see the best of him this year.”
Moore also praised Broome’s improvement.
“I think Broome has been brilliantly prepared. He was a different machine to what I’ve known him before,” said Moore. “He was in a beautiful rhythm and stretched out excellent. He was really good today. The rhythm was beautiful, he just flowed and lengthened. I could see him walking in the paddock. We always thought a lot of him. He was close to winning a Derby (G1) and a few things haven’t gone his way.”
Broome’s performance was an encouraging turnaround from his fifth-place finish in the Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1) last month, which marked his first start since an 11th-place finish in the Nov. 28 Japan Cup (G1).
“When he was getting unsaddled after the Japan Cup, a horse walking by kicked him and fractured a shin. He was off for a long time,” said O’Brien. “He just had the comeback run in the Tattersalls Gold Cup and finished fifth behind all those good horses.”
Later in the afternoon, Moore won the Wokingham S. aboard Rohaan to end the meet with seven victories, earning the Royal Ascot jockey championship. O’Brien wrapped up the trainer title with five winners, while Godolphin (five wins, three seconds, two thirds) won a tiebreaker with Coolmore (five wins, one second, three thirds) for leading owner status.