81 Royal Ascot winners and counting: you’ve got to hand it to Sir Michael

Crystal Ocean (Frankie Dettori) surges through driving rain to hold the challenge of Magical in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, highlight of a great Royal Ascot for Sir Michael Stoute. Photo: Mark Cranham/focusonracing.com

A total of 41 runners in Royal Ascot Group races for Aidan O’Brien netted the great Irish trainer three more winners and five places to add to his magnificent resume. In the process, however, he loses ground on most of the other major trainers engaged at the meeting. Which is why we must look elsewhere for this week’s Performer of the Week in this category.



We have to debit O’Brien in relative terms because it would be plain silly to rank competitors in a sport merely on the aggregate when one team has a lot more chances to win than everyone else.

The mainstay of TRC Global Rankings is our Performance Index (denoted by Points in the main rankings table) which is a mathematical estimate of the probability of one competitor’s horse beating another’s. After all, this is what league tables and championships express in every other sport – for good reason.

The 19 Group races at Royal Ascot 2019 were as widely distributed among trainers as owners, reflecting the difficulty of winning at the meeting. The outstanding feat was world #1 Charlie Appleby’s in sending out Blue Point to become the first horse in history to win the King’s Stand and Golden Jubilee while both were run as G1s.

While Appleby clearly continues to make the magic happen for Godolphin, we were a shade unimpressed by his overall portfolio at the meeting. All the good races for 3-year-olds passed by with little presence from either his barn or that of Godolphin’s other trainer, Saeed bin Suroor. This is an area to target for improvement.

While crediting the performance of the likes of John Gosden, Roger Varian, Andrew Balding, Mark Johnston and reigning TRC Trainer of the Week, Francis-Henri Graffard, it is the old master SIR MICHAEL STOUTE (+6pts, #10 from #12) who is recognised here for a superb week.

From nine runners, the Newmarket trainer saddled two winners and four placed horses – so two thirds of his runners reached the first three in a meeting as highly competitive as this one.

Stoute’s greatest feat was to finally get the old warhorse Crystal Ocean the Group 1 that his efforts over the years merited. The Prince of Wales’s Stakes hero – who outbattled O’Brien’s top-class filly Magical – put up a career-best effort at the age of five, even though a mile and a quarter is not his optimal trip. Stop us if you have heard this one before from the trainer’s runners. Crystal Ocean will return to Ascot for the G1 King George over a mile and a half, and he looks sure to take all the beating.

Sangarius, meanwhile, has the potential to be even better than Crystal Ocean when he reaches five. The 3-year-old has very impressive physicals and took the G3 Hampton Court Stakes in great style.

Stoute’s placed horses were Dream Of Dreams (touched off by Blue Point in the G1 Golden Jubilee), Rawdaa (second in the G2 Duke of Cambridge), Mirage Dancer (third in the G2 Hardwicke) and Jubiloso (third in the G1 Coronation Stakes).

This was a hugely impressive performance from the ten-times champion trainer in Britain, and he extends his record of Royal Ascot wins to 81.

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