The flat season is back underway, and not even the global coronavirus pandemic could stop the illustrious Royal Ascot from going ahead as planned! Of course, racing is taking place behind closed doors – meaning not only punters are missing out on the excitement, but the Queen is also absent for the first time in her lengthy reign – and there are several other safety measures in place. However, luckily, it hasn’t put a dampener on the meeting, with day one full of thrills and spills, as can be expected!
With that in mind, let’s take a look back at the first day of the 2020 Royal Ascot festival.
13:15: Buckingham Palace Handicap – Class 2 (3yo+ 0-105) 7f
Richard Hannon-trained Motakhayyel caused an upset in the first race of the week. The outsider – who was 14/1 with Betfair – was held up in midfield for much of the race, but once switched to the right, made headway over one furlong out, pushing on to win the Buckingham Palace Handicap. 66/1 Jack’s Point – who led throughout – also caused a shock finishing in second, whilst joint-second favourite Mutamaasik finished third. Outright favourite Daarik – who was ridden by Frankie Dettori – never really got going, and finished a disappointing 19th.
1st. Motakhayyel – 14/1
2nd. Jack’s Point – 66/1
3rd. Mutamaasik – 7/1
4th. Cliffs Of Capri – 20/1
13:50: Queen Anne Stakes – Class 1 (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (4yo+) 1m
Market favourite Circus Maximus – who was jockeyed by Ryan Moore – landed the Queen Anne Stakes in a dramatic fashion. The Adrian O’Brien-trained horse was towards the front of the pack throughout the race, but trailed back to second favourite Terebellum with just one furlong to go. However, the Dettori-ridden horse made his move too soon, and Circus Maximum clawed back the ground to narrowly win by a head. 40/1 outsider Marie’s Diamond was just over three lengths behind the leaders in third.
1st. Circus Maximus – 4/1F
2nd. Terebellum – 5/1
3rd. Marie’s Diamond – 40/1
14:25: Ribblesdale Stakes – Class 1 (Group 2) (Fillies) 1m4f
It was another favourite who scooped first place in the third race of the day. Frankly Darling (7/4) raced keenly in second for the majority of the race, before firing clear into the lead on the home the straight. 11/1 outsider Ennistymon made up some lost ground in the final furlong, but the favourite held-on to land Dettori his first victory of the meeting – and, afterwards, he even treated the viewers at home to a trademark flying dismount! Ryan Moore placed third on Passion, whilst heavily backed Miss Yoda slipped down to sixth after having nothing left in the tank.
1st. Frankly Darling – 11/8F
2nd. Ennistymon – 11/1
3rd. Passion – 13/2
15:00: King Edward VII Stakes – Class 1 (Group 2) (Colts &Geldings) (3yo) 1m4f
40/1 Sound Of Cannons raced freely – too much so, according to jockey Patrick McDonald – and led for the majority of the race. However, whilst the massive outsider weakened on the final turn, 18/1 shot Pyledriver – who was held up for most of the race – found a gap between the leader and Arthur’s Kingdom, and raced on to win by two lengths clear of the latter. Mohican Heights (4/1) came third with odds-on favourite Mogul (10/11) in fourth, whilst Sound Of Cannons dropped down to fifth.
1st. Pyledriver – 18/1
2nd. Arthur’s Kingdom – 9/2
3rd. Mohican Heights – 4/1
15:35: King’s Stand Stakes – Class 1 (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (3yo+) 5f
There was no surprises in the King’s Stand Stakes as odds-on favourite Battaash (5/6) won by over two lengths. The Charles Hills-trained horse was at the front of the pack from the off, and pushed well clear with a furlong left. Things were a bit tighter behind the leader as Equilateral – who is also a member of Hills stable – beat Liberty Beach to second by a neck, whilst 33/1 shot, Tis Marvellous, was hot on their tails in fourth.
1st. Battaash – 5/6F
2nd. Equilateral – 9/1
3rd. Liberty Beach – 4/1
16:10: Duke Of Cambridge Stakes – Class 1 (Group 2) (Fillies & Mares) 1m
66/1 shot Invitational travelled well and led for the majority of the race. However, the four-year-old ran out of gas one furlong out and dropped back into the field with Nazeef (10/3), Agincourt (28/1) and Queen Power (3/1J) pushing neck-and-neck to the front of the pack. Nazeef and Queen Power matched each other stride-for-stride as the finish line approached, but it was the former who got his head over first to scoop the victory. Invitational ended up dropping down to eighth, whilst joint-favourite Jubiloso was right at the back of the field.
1st. Nazeef – 100/30
2nd. Agincourt – 28/1
3rd. Queen Power – 3/1JF
16:50: Ascot Stakes (A Handicap) – Class 2 (4yo+ 0-100) 2m4f
Coeur De Lion caused yet another shock on the opening day of the meeting, as the 16/1 outsider nicked the Ascot Stakes from favourite Verdana Blue right at the finish. The Alan Kind-trained seven-year-old was held-up at the back of a jam-packed midfield for the majority of the race. However, jockey Thore Hammer Hansen nudged to the outside on the home turn and raced past leaders Verdana Blue and Summer Moon as the finish line approached, beating the 4/1 favourite by a length.
1st. Coeur De Lion – 16/1
2nd. Verdana Blue – 4/1F
3rd. Summer Moon – 11/2
4th. Smart Champion – 22/1