Rapid Rosallion, Billy the Kid, the master of Ballydoyle, Running Lion tamed and a Wild handicap success… all were Royal Ascot highlights

  • High-class Rosallion a terrific winner of the St James’s Palace Stakes 
  • Teenage dream as Billy Loughnane announces his arrival on the big stage
  • Master trainer Aidan O’Brien is simply in a league of his own once again
  • Oisin Murphy tames Running Lion and Wild Tiger to pick up thrilling successes

Royal Ascot delivered in spades this week and here are a few highlights from a terrific five days in Berkshire…


It has to be Rosallion after his thrilling victory in the St James’s Palace Stakes. Second in the Guineas at Newmarket before winning the Irish equivalent, the Richard Hannon-trained colt beat Henry Longfellow in decisive fashion with a withering turn of foot. He’s a true champion miler and jockey Sean Levey insists he can be even better when he as a stronger pace to aim at.

He’s versatile regarding the ground and looks capable of defeating the older milers at Goodwood in the Sussex Stakes later in the season. Hannon insists Rosallion is the best he’s trained and he showed why to light up the opening day at Royal Ascot.


The easy option here would give the honour to Ryan Moore for another typically outstanding meeting at Royal Ascot but he is well-established and has the ammunition to really thrive regardless.

Rosallion holds off Henry Longfellow to win the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot

Rosallion holds off Henry Longfellow to win the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot

Teenager Billy Loughnane celebrates a breakthrough success in the Coventry Stakes

Teenager Billy Loughnane celebrates a breakthrough success in the Coventry Stakes

Jockey Ryan Moore and trainer Aidan O'Brien with the Gold Cup after a terrific week at Ascot

Jockey Ryan Moore and trainer Aidan O’Brien with the Gold Cup after a terrific week at Ascot

Oisin Murphy also enjoyed a strong week at a place he excels but the honour goes to 18-year-old Billy Loughnane. Anyone watching racing on a regular basis knew he was an excellent apprentice but moving up into the big leagues requires a lot more. When the allowances in weight dwindle then opportunities can also disappear. But ‘Billy The Kid’ showed he’s here for the long haul with two outstanding successes on the biggest stage.

Steering 80-1 chance Rashabar to success in the Coventry Stakes will be a victory that announced Loughnane to the highest level. The win on Rashabar was a gutsy ride from on the pace on a juvenile that hadn’t shed his maiden tag. It was a remarkable story and he followed up his opening-day success with a 14-1 win on Soprano in Friday’s Sandringham Stakes. On that occasion, he came with a well-timed late rattle in a competitive handicap. A week the young man will never forget.


BORING, I know, but it has to be Aidan O’Brien. Tuesday didn’t quite go to plan but things took off when Illinois won the trainer’s fifth Queen’s Vase in 10 years in a record-breaking time. That was swiftly followed up by Auguste Rodin winning the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes in gutsy fashion as team Ballydoyle ensured a strong pace for the favourite to aim at and capitalise on for last year’s Derby hero to regain the winning thread.

More success arrived on Thursday with 12-1 chance Port Fairy winning the Ribblesdale Stakes with another power-packed display from near the speed. She had improved markedly for her run at Chester and O’Brien had won the Group Two prize for a fourth time in nine years.

Better was to come with Kyprios in the Gold Cup. A horse that suffered a life-threatening injury, O’Brien’s skills were on full show here as he regained his staying crown. Like all brilliant stayers, Kyprios holds a little back for himself but he more than had enough in the tank to repel Trawlerman and win by a length. The word genius echoed around the Ascot winners enclosure about O’Brien and it was impossible to argue.

By Friday, the only thing missing for O’Brien was a two-year-old winner. That looked set to continue when Fairy Godmother was repeatedly blocked in her run in the Albany Stakes. She had to switch round the whole field and somehow mowed them all down in time to prevail by three-quarters of a length. It was an astonishing turn of foot to pull victory from the fire.

Bedtime Story was a blistering winner of the Chesham Stakes by nine and a half lengths yesterday and O’Brien already looks like he boasts a strong hand for next year’s 1,000 Guineas with her and Fairy Godmother. Royal Ascot is too competitive for one individual to exert true dominance but this wasn’t far off it from the master of Ballydoyle.

Oisin Murphy gave Running Lion an inspired forward ride to land the Duke Of Cambridge

Oisin Murphy gave Running Lion an inspired forward ride to land the Duke Of Cambridge 


Plenty of contenders but there was lots to like about the ride

Murphy gave Running Lion in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes. A quirky customer that can

overthink the game, Running Lion is not the easiest to warm too and had repeatedly disappointed in lesser races at shorter prices. Drawn wide, Murphy kept her away from the rest of the field before coming across to let her stride on in front. He promptly gave her an aggressive ride and she never saw a rival.

If an opponent did eyeball her, many would suspect she may have thrown the towel in again. On a big day and with a Group Two on the line, that option was not on the table as she responded well to forceful tactics to be a clear-cut victory.

Questions about the temperament of the John and Thady Gosden-trained filly can be parked for now but there is no doubt that we saw her in a different light because of an outstanding front-running ride by Murphy on the daughter of Roaring Lion.

Wild Tiger wins the Royal Hunt Cup handicap in a thrilling finish for the all blue of Godolphin

Wild Tiger wins the Royal Hunt Cup handicap in a thrilling finish for the all blue of Godolphin


THIS is all down to personal preference but there is always an element of satisfaction when a horse you have fancied for a long time wins a competitive Royal Ascot handicap. Wild Tiger had all the hallmarks of a Group horse in a handicap when being punted into 11-2 favouritism for the Royal Hunt Cup.

Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor targets this prize repeatedly and won it with top-class miler Real World a few years ago. He hit the target again when clinging on grimly in the final furlong to prevail by a short head.

He raced with no cover throughout but was always travelling like the class act. The challengers all loomed large within the closing 100 yards but Murphy and Wild Tiger were able to fend them all off. It produced all the classic thrills of racing with thankfully a happy ending!

Source link