Wesley Ward’s Campanelle wins Group 1 Commonwealth Cup in the stewards’ room

June 18, 2021

Last year’s Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes winner at Royal Ascot, Campanelle (5/1), gave Wesley Ward his first winner at the meeting this year when promoted to first in the stewards’ room.

Stepping up from the five-furlong Group 2 of last year, Campanelle, a Tattersalls October Yearling Sale Book 1 purchase for 190,000 guineas, took on the colts in the Group 1 six-furlong Commonwealth Cup for three-year-olds.

Making her first racecourse appearance since finishing fourth in the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last year, the Kodiac filly was runner-up to Dragon Symbol (4/1) by a head passing the wire.

The Frankie Dettori-ridden American representative had clearly been carried across the track inside the final furlong, however, by Oisín Murphy’s mount, while Johnny Murtagh’s Measure Of Magic (11/1) finished third for rider Ben Coen. 

With a stewards’ enquiry called, it didn’t come as a major surprise that Campanelle was given the result, and she claimed her second career Group 1 victory to add to last year’s Prix Morny at Deauville, France.

A relieved and delighted winning trainer Wesley Ward said of today’s Group 1 success, his 12th Royal Ascot win:

“I actually thought the ground boded well for her chances. We weren’t sure about heavy ground, but we knew she liked soft ground. Winning at Royal Ascot is so special, especially with my children here from the onset in 2009, it has been so special. To have Campanelle ponied down by my first winner Strike The Tiger too means a lot.”

When asked about immediate plans for the filly, Ward stated:

“We’ll sit down with the owners. Campanelle worked well on the July Course, but the July Cup could come a bit quick. I have run horses in the Prix Maurice De Gheest in the past and I think she’ll do well whatever ground comes on the day. I think it would suit.”

The winning-rider Frankie Dettori admitted that it wasn’t the way he was hoping to win the Group 1 contest, his 76th Royal Ascot victory:

“It is never nice winning a race in the stewards’ room. I feel sorry for Dragon Symbol’s connections that I took it off them. But in these conditions, when you are taken across about eight lanes, I got nudged three times, lost my momentum and got beaten a head, so the stewards felt they gave me the benefit of the doubt.”

British Champion flat jockey Oisín Murphy, who lost the race in the stewards’ room admitted that both he and Dettori told the stewards’ that Dragon Symbol was the best horse on the day.

“I am disappointed for the connections of Dragon Symbol,” said the Irishman. “There was a massive Japanese interest, he finished the race in front, but it wasn’t meant to be.

“I didn’t give it much thought, I went in the stewards’ room, I told them I was on the best horse, Frankie said I was on the best horse, but it didn’t go my way. Sorry to the Japanese fans and to Archie Watson’s team, and well done to Wesley Ward.”

Describing how he felt on losing the Commonwealth Cup, Murphy stated:

“I said to my valet when he put his hand around me: ‘there’s no place for tears in here. There are far worse things going on in the world, we’re in the entertainment industry, and I’m steering these marvellous animals and keep looking forward to the next one’.”

Group 1 consolation for Oisín Murphy

Despite losing the Commonwealth Cup in the stewards’ room, County Kerry, Ireland-born rider Oisín Murphy got straight back into the winners’ enclosure when taking the other Group 1 race on Friday’s Royal Ascot card, the Coronation Stakes, with Alcohol Free (11/2).

The daughter of No Nay Never, purchased for 40,000 euros at the 2018 Goffs November Foal Sale, had finished fifth to Aidan O’Brien’s Mother Earth in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket early last month.  

The Andrew Balding-handled filly got her revenge on the Coolmore-owned Mother Earth (9/2) today, with the latter only taking third place in the top-level contest. Snow Lantern (14/1) divided the pair, as she finished a length and a half behind the winner who carried the colours of Jeff Smith.

Oisín Murphy said of eventually getting a Group 1 today:

“I didn’t get a chance to stress ahead of Alcohol Free. I had a plan and I don’t know if Andrew agreed me, but he filled me with confidence when I told him what I was going to do. Alcohol Free relaxed, I stayed on the bit for as long as I could and given her pedigree, she was always going to handle the ground.”

The winning conditioner Andrew Balding, for whom it was 9th Royal Ascot success, praised the professionalism of Oisín Murphy, having lost a Group 1 race only 40 minutes prior to taking the Coronation Stakes:

“Full credit to Oisín – it’s the measure of the man to have the disappointment he had five minutes before they go in the stalls, and to give her such a good ride takes some doing.”

Looking ahead to possible target’s for the filly, Balding admitted:

“She’s in the July Cup and the Sussex Stakes – whether she does both or one I don’t know, but I think we’ll stick to Britain this year.”

Other Group races

The 13/8 favourite Alenquer gave rider Tom Marquand his second-ever Royal Ascot winner when taking the mile and a half Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes for three-year-old colts and geldings. 

Alenquer, a second winner this week for trainer William Haggas, had beaten the Cazoo Derby winner Adayar at Sandown Park earlier this year, but failed to make the Epsom race following a minor setback. 

The Group 3 Albany Stakes for two-year-old fillies went to the 16/1 shot Sandrine, as jockey David Probert took a second career success at Royal Ascot. 

The Andrew Balding-trained winner stayed on well on the rain-softened ground to beat Hello You (5/1) by a length and a half, with Oscula (10/1) third home, a further half-length behind.

Sandrine’s delighted owner-breeder Kirsten Rausing said: 

“I bought this filly’s fifth or sixth dam as a yearling at Goffs in 1976 and the family has been with me ever since. Everything on her catalogue page from top to bottom, we have bred at Lanwades Stud.”

Discussing the victorious filly, the winning rider David Probert stated:

“Going to the start, I didn’t think many would go in these conditions, but Sandrine is super-fit and very hardy. I think she has a great attribute – she relaxes very well and gets into a good rhythm. She’s not very green for an inexperienced filly, and she’s taken me past the two (furlong pole) almost filling herself up again, so when I did ask her, she really was relentless and galloped really nicely to the line.”

Saturday is the fifth and final day of Royal Ascot 2021 with the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes over 6 furlongs the day’s highlight.

Photos: Courtesy of Megan Ridgwell

Contributing Authors

Breandán Ó hUallacháin

Breandán Ó hUallacháin writes about Irish, British, French and Australian horseracing, both National Hunt and Flat. He has an interest in the history of racing...

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