Johnny Murtagh celebrates aboard Henrythenavigator
The best week of racing in the world kicked off with three Group 1 races in a row, the first three on Royal Ascot’s opening-day Tuesday card. Two of those races are at a mile, the Gr1 Queen Anne Stakes for ‘olders’ (four-year-olds and up), and the Gr1 St. James’s Palace Stakes, for three year-old colts. The latter, the third race on the card, is essentially the ‘European 2000 Guineas,’ as it has the potential to attract the English, French, and Irish 2000 Guineas winners.
It did so again this year, as odds-on Henrythenavigator (Kingmambo) added to his English and Irish Guineas triumphs over subsequent Gr1 Epsom Derby winner New Approach with a decisive, though narrow, victory over English 2000 Guineas fourth Raven’s Pass (Elusive Quality). Twice Over (Observatory) finished third. Raven’s Pass definitely stamped himself as Henrythenavigator’s closest European three-year-old rival at a mile.
The day’s first two races demonstrated the fiercely competitive and international flavour of the week’s racing: the Gr1 Queen Anne was won by Haradasun, an Australian-bred son of Fusaichi Pegasus who came ‘up north’ after Coolmore bought into him for a spring-summer campaign before going back to Australia to enter stud in September. It looked a tight contest beforehand, and Haradasun, who had been only fifth in the Gr1 Lockinge Stakes in his first start for Aidan O’Brien, prevailed narrowly from two 2007 Classic-winning four-year-old fillies, Darjina (Zamindar) and Finsceal Beo (Mr. Greeley).