Tepin. Tepin. Tepin. Royal Ascot opened Tuesday, American champion Tepin had a mountain to climb – soft ground, straight course, no Lasix, no nasal strip, travel – and in 1:43.98, she had scaled the mountain. Hell, she moved it. Winning the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes with simplistic grace. Our sport has been under international fire, mostly over Lasix and the use of other medication, Tepin lit her own fire Tuesday at Royal Ascot.
Owner Robert Masterson thought big, trainer Mark Casse (pronounced Casey by the British interviewer before the race) and his son Norm delivered a perfect horse and Julien Leparoux rode Tepin with confidence and conviction, leading the stands-side pack without hesitation.
It was beautiful.
Royal Ascot continues with its second day. Can we possibly top the first?
Race 1. 9:30 a.m. The Jersey Stakes. Group 3. 3-year-olds. 7 furlongs. $132,500.
A competitive group of 3-year-olds, most are lightly raced and coming around to their best, clash in the opener. Ribchester finished 3 ½ lengths behind yesterday’s winner Galileo Gold in April. Castle Harbour handled soft ground in April. American stallions, Blame, Include, War Front and Elusive Quality are represented.
The Picks: Castle Harbour, Remarkable, Forge.
Race 2. 10:05. The Queen Mary Stakes. Group 2. 2-year-old fillies. 5 furlongs. $161,500.
Lady Aurelia, a daughter of the late great Scat Daddy, tries to add to Wesley Ward’s long list of Ascot accolades. He likes her.
“There was a little bit of a question mark about if she would take to the grass. I sent her to Arlington, wow, like scintillating works. I can’t see her losing. They are awesome good works on the grass,” Ward said. “She breathes different air against her opposition she’s working with, she breaks three or four behind them, settles, eases out and widens. It’s not like she’s widening against horses who are just horses, she’s doing it against quality horses. You look at the watch and think, ‘that can’t be.’ “
She has to overcome soft ground.
The Picks: Lady Aurelia, Al Johrah, Katrine.
Race 3. 10:40. The Duke of Cambridge Stakes. Group 2. Fillies and mares. 1 mile. $257,500.
Now, Graham Motion gets his turn. Miss Temple City ran well at Royal Ascot last year, finishing fourth while failing to settle. She’s a year older and a year better.
“Everybody after last year was very keen to come back this year, we all felt that we would love to do it again if we had another chance,” Motion said. “I wanted to be pragmatic about it, I didn’t want to be twisting everybody’s arm to do it and the filly had to come out running, to show she belonged, she did that – more than I could have expected.”
Miss Temple City beat the boys in the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland in April, booking her ticket to Royal Ascot.
“It’s about the challenge, I like the challenge to go over there and trying to win. It won’t be easy. I’m glad we can go into the race and feel like we have a strong chance, we don’t have to run against colts and we don’t have to run against Tepin,” Motion said. “It’s something I would really like to accomplish. She doesn’t need Lasix, she’s been there before, I know the routine, I’ve got a pretty good handle of what we want to do in the mornings and the routine on race day. And we’ve got Ryan Moore.”
Even in America, there is the Moore Factor.
“The straight mile worries me, but I feel comfortable having Ryan Moore riding her, that’s not a knock on our guys, but he’s navigated it and done it very well, I do think it must help to have a guy who’s so familar with it,” Motion said. “We pressed to get him since she ran at Keeneland, Coolmore doesn’t have anything for it and he fell into our hands. To get the best…I have huge respect for him.”
And the rest of the field. Usherette has only lost once for Godolphin and Andre Fabre. Always Smile has only lost once for Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor. Blond Me tried American last fall. Devonshire should handle the ground.
The Picks: Usherette, Miss Temple City, Devonshire.
Race 4. 11:20. The Prince of Wales’s Stakes. Group 1. 1 1/4 miles. $1,102,500.
Want international? This is international. A Shin Hikari, 10-for-12, flies the flag for Japan. Irish-bred, British-based The Grey Gatsby lost by a nose in this race last year. Tryster spent the winter in Dubai, he’s 9-for-13 for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby. Found, well you remember her winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf last year, represents Ireland. Just six line up, but, oh what a six.
The Picks: A Shin Hikari, Found, Western Hymn.
Race 5. 12:00. The Royal Hunt Cup. Handicap. 1 mile. $257,500.
Another crazy handicap as 30 runners line up. Yes, 30 runners, with a 15-pound spread from GM Hopkins to Librisa Breeze
The Picks: Portage, Librisa Breeze, Mitchum Swagger.
Race 6. 12:30. The Sandringham Handicap. 3-year-old fillies. 1 mile. $117,500.
Persuasive puts her undefeated record on the line for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori. Planchart, a daughter of Gio Ponti won her most recent start. John Velazquez picks up the ride on British-based Yeah Baby Yeah, he’s 100-1.
The Picks: Dolce Strega, Anamba, Radiantly.