If the opening day of Royal Ascot didn’t go to plan for Aidan O’Brien, but he certainly made amends for it on day two of the royal meeting.
A winner for the Ballydoyle handler in the Jersey Stakes wasn’t a shock, but the horse that actually did the winning was as surprising as something intelligible coming out of the mouth of John McCririck. Going off 11/2 3rd co-favourite, Reply was expected to be the yard’s main chance of success, but it was the unfancied 20/1 shot, Ishvana who won in a more convincing manner than the one length margin suggests.
Joviality provided a further kick in the nuts for punters by landing the Windsor Forest Stakes at odds of 11/1, but it was O’Brien to much needed rescue not long after. So You Think hasn’t quite lived up to the hype since moving north from Australia, but his victory in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes righted a lot of the previous wrongs, including a narrow defeat in last year’s running of this race.
It looked for a moment like it may have been time for a celebratory ‘Pimms o’clock’ for the Queen as her runner, Carlton House hit the front nearing home. But So You Think was in no mood for facilitating the fairy-tale and exerted himself to win by a commanding two and a quarter lengths from her Majesty’s horse . Victory for the 4/5 shot was a relief for favourite backers who hadn’t tasted success since Frankel’s jaw-dropping win in the opening race of the meeting on Tuesday. The nearly £300,000 in prize money pushed the New Zealand bred horse past the £5 million mark in career prize money.
The win provided short-term respite for punters as the overall ‘bookies’ benefit’ theme resumed in the Royal Hunt Cup. This race is notoriously open and that’s how it proved to be as Prince of Johanne claimed the honours at odds of 16/1. There was more pain for punters in the Queen Mary Stakes as Ceiling Kitty claimed the 27 runner cavalry charge. The day’s proceedings did finish on a better note for punters, with they heavily backed favourite, Duntle landing the Sandringham Handicap at 4/1.
Sadly it wasn’t a great day for our tipsters. Whilst acknowledging So You Think’s ability, Ruby Walsh plumped for Carlton House. We’ll cut them some slack however after a successful Tuesday when they combined to put up Simenon (8/1), Most Improved (9/1) and Dawn Approach (7/2). Let’s hope they can rediscover that form tomorrow.