Saturday marks the final day of the prestigious annual Royal Ascot meeting at Ascot Racecourse outside London and after a week of fallen records, both in temperatures and course records, only one Group 1 race remains on the six-race closing day card.
The weather has returned to more typical London-type conditions and a light drizzle can be expected frequently throughout the day Saturday with highs in the mid-70s. The course is expected to stay good to firm since no heavy precipitation has been in the area for days.
The final day’s feature is the about six furlongs Diamond Jubilee Stakes (GI), a race for all sexes aged four and up. The race was first run in 1868 as the All-Aged Stakes before it morphed into the Cork and Orry Stakes in the late 1920s in honor of the Earl of Cork and, then, the Golden Jubilee in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s 50th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. Five years ago it was renamed again to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s rise to lead the British monarchy — and the name remains today.
Some outstanding European sprinters have won the race over the many decades of its existence, but none so prominent as 2012 winner and worldwide fan favorite Black Caviar, who shipped in from Australia to claim a narrow victory. Two years ago American trainer Wesley Ward saddled Undrafted to victory and, this year, the lone American left with a runner at Royal Ascot — Bill Mott – will send out Dubai’s Al Quoz Sprint (GI) runner-up Long on Value, who will be attempting to turn the tables on The Right Man, who took home top honors at Meydan.
Group 1 winner Limato, who faltered as the favorite in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) and who beat just two in the Al Quoz Sprint last out, is the early favorite most likely because of his European form, as he won the Darley July Cup (GI) and Qatar Prix de la Foret (GI) last year. The Henry Candy-trained son of Tagula has a win and a second in two Ascot starts and also four wins and two seconds from six tries at this distance. He’s a bit of a closer who is expected to get the pace he loves to run at, so a return to winning form after a two-race break wouldn’t be any surprise.
Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds’ Magical Memory, who hasn’t won in a while, will attempt to improve on a fourth-place finish in this event a year ago and while the Charlie Hills-trained son of Zebedee won’t have regular jockey Frankie Dettori in the saddle, he will benefit from the services of current Ascot leading jockey Ryan Moore aboard. This handsome gray gelding has a solid record at the distance and a second-place finish as a prep for this at York last month. He figures to be dangerous if he gets his preferred trip stalking the pace.
Tasleet defeated Magical Memory in the Duke of York Stakes (GII) at York last out and, with one exception, the son of Showcasing has been nothing but consistent. Though he makes his Ascot debut, he’s won three of five starts at the distance and seems to be improving at the right time. He has some tactical ability, which should help him, and as a 4-year-old seems to be improving at the right time. William Haggis trains for Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum and jockey Jim Crowley rides.
The Right Man makes his first start since taking the March 25 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan, which was the biggest score of the gelded son of Lope De Vega’s career. Trained in France by Didier Guillemin and probably one of his country’s top sprinters, The Right Man is consistent, having hit the board in 14 of 17 career starts, and has placed in multiple group races in both France and the UAE. This event is certainly is acid test, but if he’s as good as his connections think, he’s a dangerous threat at decent odds to pull the mild upset.
Long On Value has proven to be a useful turf sprinter in America, even though most of his starts have been a bit shorter. The turf sprint division in America doesn’t exactly have a ton of options, so Long On Value has made the best of what he’s been given. Trainer Bill Mott is a Hall of Famer for a reason and he’s certainly not one to ship all the way to England with a horse who has no shot, so we can certainly expect a top effort from this son of Value Plus.
Post time for the Diamond Jubilee, which is the day’s fourth, will be 11:20 a.m. ET.