Quote: ‘Racing behind closed doors trading income was down 80%. We at Ascot look forward to welcome back racegoers, delivering a special week of racing’ – Guy Henderson, Ascot chief executive officer
By Andrew Atkinson
The five day Royal Ascot 2021 gets underway on June 15 with The Queen Anne Stakes, The King’s Stand Stakes and The St James’s Palace Stakes featured races on the opening day.
On Wednesday, The Prince of Wales’s Stakes, Thursday, The Gold Cup – Ladies Day; Friday, The Commonwealth Cup and The Coronation Stakes, with Saturday featuring The Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
Derby winning trainer Charlie Appleby St James’s Palace Stakes duo Highland Avenue and La Barrosa are entries.
“As it stands at the moment, Highland Avenue will go there.
“We saw him finish second at Sandown on the soft ground there. He’s come out of the race very well. I was delighted with the run and he had the penalty,” said Appleby.
“I’m a big believer that when you go to Ascot you’ve got to be battle-hardened. He’s put that onto his CV now,” he said.
“He won well at Newmarket and had had that profile from the all-weather. Going to Sandown was very much a stepping stone to the St James’s Palace, as long as he ran well,” said Appleby.
“I’m very much looking forward to seeing him on a quicker surface at Ascot.
“We’ll add La Barrosa into the St James’s Palace picture. We were pleased with his run at the Curragh on his last start there.
“It was just the soft ground that I felt meant we didn’t see the best of him. He travelled well into the race but just couldn’t pick up in that ground.
“He’s come out of that race well and deserves to be in the line-up,” he added.
Naval Crown heads for the Jersey Stakes after finishing fourth in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket: “As we saw in Dubai, he’s got a lot of natural pace.
“He lost nothing in defeat on his first run back and then ran a very gallant race in the Guineas. It’s very much a pace angle, that’s his forte.
“We might step Creative Force up from six to seven to run him in the Jersey as well.
“On what he’s achieved he deserves to be at Ascot. On his pedigree there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be able to step up to the seven,” said Appleby.
New Science is entered in the Chesham Stakes: “His homework has always pleased us. Physically, he’s done well for his run and had an easy time for a week after his run. “He’s back in full work now and mentally and physically he’s taken it all very well.
“We’re very much looking forward to taking him to Ascot. He’s a nice work horse, not electric. He’s a sharp, seven furlong individual.
“We’ve got some nice seven furlong horses coming through but for what he’s achieved so far, he’d be up there in the top rank ” said Appleby, who saddled Derby winner Adayar.
Epsom winner Adayar is being aimed at Ascot in July for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, with third-placed Hurricane Lane eyeing the Curragh for the Irish Derby.
One Ruler, who finished in sixth, has the option of the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Appleby is also considering a trip to the US for the Belmont Derby. On the Hampton Court, Appleby said. “He’d have a four-pound penalty in there but we’re slightly looking more on the international scene for him. Something like the Belmont Derby could well be on his radar.”
Royal Ascot was added to the list of the Government’s sports pilot events following behind closed doors meetings due to COVID-19.
12,000 spectators are to attend: “There’s nothing better than Royal Ascot with people,” said jockey Frankie Dettori.
“I know it’s not 60,000 but it’s better than what we thought. Last year I was leading rider at Royal Ascot and won three Group Ones, including the Gold Cup.
“To have nobody there to see any of that, it was like someone had cut my arm off,” said Dettori.
“Those are the biggest races we’ve got here, and I won them in front of empty grandstands. It wasn’t the same, so I’m so happy,” added Dettori.
Dual Classic-winning filly Aidan O’Brien trained Love is entered in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
“Love will probably end up going to the Prince of Wales’s and could go there with Armory,” said O’Brien.
“Broome will probably go up to a mile and a half. There’s the Coronation Cup or the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot, one or the other, I would imagine,” said O’Brien.
Royal Ascot will have a 66% increase on prize money from 2020. Scheduled £8 million in prize money for Royal Ascot in 2020 was dented, due to the coronavirus pandemic, slashed to £3.61 million.
This year’s meeting seven-race cards sees £6 million prizemoney. Guy Henderson, chief executive officer at Ascot, said: “In 2020 we had hoped to offer record prize money of more than £8 million at the royal meeting.
“The pandemic made that impossible and we have now spent nearly a year racing behind closed doors with trading income down 80%.
“This year’s prize money of £6 million represents 75% of what we had originally planned for 2020.
“While COVID-19 has knocked back our long-term financial trajectory by several years, our aim is to make the largest steps we can towards getting prize money levels back on track.
“We at Ascot much look forward to being able to welcome back our racegoers and delivering a special week of racing, both for those who are able to be with us on site and the many millions who will be with us in spirit through our broadcast and digital channels.”