Many star performers were on display at the Breeders’ Cup at the beginning of November, with Gun Runner, Good Magic, and Roy H amongst the eye-catchers at Del Mar. The outstanding trio of World Approval, Stormy Liberal, and Richard’s Boy also covered themselves in glory and could be heading to the UK in June 2018 to compete at Royal Ascot.
Stormy Liberal and Joel Rosario teamed up to take the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint with trainer Peter Miller, toasting yet more success at the track for the local trainer, and the triumphant thoroughbred is one of the horses that could head to Berkshire in 2018. Miller landed the exacta in this particular contest, with Stormy Liberal’s stablemate, Richard’s Boy, narrowly edged out in the final stage of the contest. It was a terrific matchup, with Miller jumping for joy at the finish and saying “I’m just elated to win a Breeders’ Cup at home” before describing his charges as “…just two gutsy, tough, hard-knocking horses”.
Ascot’s talent recruiter Nick Smith was at the track to witness the two Miller runners do battle and was suitably impressed enough to suggest that he would like both to compete in next year’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Supposedly, Miller considered sending both over to the UK for this year’s staging of the contest, which was won by the Tin Man, but opted to keep them at home instead.
British and Irish racing are set to be dominated by the National Hunt season over the course of the winter, with punters able to use the odds at Timeform to help secure the best price in any of the key jumps meetings. However, many of the stables who specialize in flat racing will already be putting together plans for Royal Ascot 2018, and some candidates may get the occasional outing on the all-weather surface at either Kempton or Lingfield.
Trainers such as Michael Bell, Richard Fahey, and John Gosden occasionally opt to take advantage of these contests in order to keep their charges fit ahead of the recommencement of the flat season in April.
Breeders’ Cup Mile victor World Approval is another horse that may feature at the Royal meeting in Berkshire next year, with the Queen Anne believed to be the target. Trainer Mark Casse suggested that he was open to another UK visit, saying, “That’s something we’ll talk about. We kind of like Ascot”.
Casse previously competed at the meeting with Tepin, a 2015 winner of the Queen Anne, and La Coronel, a creditable fifth-place finisher in the incredibly competitive Coronation Stakes. The trainer compared the impressive World Approval to Tepin, saying, “He is doing the exact same things that she used to do,” but insisted that he would only travel if the underfoot conditions were suitable.
Racing fans are licking their lips at the prospect of seeing the 5-year-old compete against Australian superstar Winx over the mile. The Group 1 star wrapped up the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley and will now be rested ahead of a possible trip to Europe. It’s been a busy 2017 for the “Queen of Australian Racing;” she is currently on a 22-race winning streak, and European racing fans are understandably excited at the prospect of seeing her compete in the Northern Hemisphere.
There’s still plenty to be decided before declarations can be made, but Royal Ascot 2018 is already shaping up to be another exciting extravaganza, with some of the best racing talent in the world on display. 2017 saw the largest number of US representatives compete at the five-day festival, with 14 runners taking to the turf for five different trainers, and that number is likely to increase once again.
NBC devoted a number of hours to the event for the first time in 2017, offering fans the ability to watch all of the action unfold. Lady Aurelia was victorious for the second year running, with trainer Wesley Ward describing his filly as “…a once-in-a-lifetime horse.” Ward is likely to send another strong string over in 2018.
World Approval, Stormy Liberal, and Richard’s Boy could all feature at Royal Ascot next year, with many other US runners likely to follow, and it appears that there will be a number of memorable turf battles in Berkshire throughout June.