Over the years, there have been many Australian-bred gallopers who have thrust their name onto the world stage through their deeds at Royal Ascot: Choisir, Scenic Blast, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti, Starspangledbanner and, of course, Black Caviar.
There were no Australian-bred compatriots running at Royal Ascot in 2017 but, if anything, our influence has never been stronger.
Choisir, who blazed Australia’s trail in 2003 with victories in the King’s Stand Stakes and then the Golden Jubilee, made his presence felt on the first day of Royal Ascot with his flashy 2YO, Rajasinghe, capturing the Group Two Coventry Stakes, while on the Friday he was in play again as damsire of Group One Coronation Stakes hero, Winter.
Darley Australia’s highly influential sire, Exceed And Excel, has been spreading his wings for a while too and chimed in with an Ascot double via Sound And Silence (Windsor Castle Stakes) and Out Do (Wokingham Handicap).
Exceed And Excel’s own Australian-bred sire sons, Excelebration and Helmet dominated the prestigious Group One St James’s Palace Stakes on Tuesday when Barney Roy and Thunder Snow ran first and third, while Foxwedge and Lonhro also figured prominently with Royal Ascot runners.
Perhaps stealing the show, however, was Australian-bred, Danehill mare, Hveger, who was exported to Ireland in 2009 and has been visited by Coolmore’s super sire, Galileo, every year since.
And the magic has been working overtime with Hveger’s son, Highland Reel, winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes – his sixth Group One victory – while the full brother, Idaho, won the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes three days later.
Naturally enough, Coolmore Stud was over the moon with the week’s success given that the internationally acclaimed nursery stands Choisir and owns Hveger.
Coolmore Australia’s Sebastian Hutch was quick to acknowledge the influence from down under: “Royal Ascot is as prestigious a race meeting as there is in the world and it was a great endorsement of the Australian bloodstock industry to see so many horses with an Australian connection featuring so prominently,” Hutch enthused.
“It was a particularly special week for Hveger, who has been an astonishingly successful producer for Messrs Meduri, Tagg and Moffitt. For many breeders, it is the pinnacle of a lifetime’s work to have a Royal Ascot winner, but to breed two in a week, out of the same mare, is a special achievement.
“Highland Reel is as tenacious a horse as there is in Europe at the moment and while his earnings are now in excess of A$11 million following the Prince Of Wales, the fact that he seems to be getting even better means that he’s likely to add significantly to his winning haul through the remainder of the season.
“His brother, Idaho, has always looked a top class horse in the making, but hasn’t enjoyed the best of luck. However, that was a brilliant performance in the Hardwicke, the form of which looks very strong. It only appears to be a matter of time before he wins at the highest level.
“It’s very exciting to see the success that Galileo is enjoying with elite mares from Australia, especially when you consider the likes of Atlantic Jewel, Nechita, Melito, Sea Siren, Amicus and Monsoon Wedding, along with some other fantastic mares from Australia, have progeny to come by him.
“As for Choisir, well, he’ll always be synonymous with Royal Ascot. What he achieved as a racehorse there is unlikely to ever be repeated and it’s a credit to his quality as a stallion to see his offspring excelling there as well.
“Starspangledbanner was obviously a phenomenal representative for him and carved out his own piece of history at Royal Ascot as a sire a few years later, while Coventry Stakes winner Rajasinge, became his sire’s 82nd career stakes winner and is a high class colt in the making. And, just for good measure, Choisir was broodmare sire of Winter, following up on the win, through another of his daughters, of My Dream Boat 12 months ago.”
HOOFNOTE: Australia’s impact at Royal Ascot last week certainly garnered a lot of attention from world media, including this feature from Racing Post’s Martin Stevens: