Between a lack of stable success and a suspension to Irad Ortiz Jr., this has not been the greatest of weeks for Ortiz and trainer Wesley Ward at Royal Ascot. But all it takes is Campanelle winning her third consecutive Royal Ascot meet race to flip the plot.
That comes in Saturday’s Group 1 Platinum Jubilee Stakes, the richest Royal Ascot race in history with a £1 million purse. In Campanelle’s case, it comes with a healthy side of history.
Campanelle is bidding to be one of the rare horses to win three different races in three years. The Platinum Jubilee would serve as a wonderful anchor to the Queen Mary Stakes trophy Campanelle won two years ago. It would nicely bookend the Commonwealth Cup Campanelle won last year after Dragon Symbol crossed the finish line first, but was disqualified.
“To have any winner at Royal Ascot is something, but if she were to win for a third time there, it would be phenomenal. We are so excited for that,” Ward told Royal Ascot. “She’s coming here after a strong performance on her comeback at Keeneland, and if you watch that race, what she did was pretty impressive. Six furlongs is her perfect distance and she loves Ascot. She’ll take to any surface and that’s a big plus for her too.”
Campanelle ran only once this year
Campanelle came back after a six-month break in April, tuning up for Royal Ascot with a 2 ½-length victory in the Listed Giant’s Causeway at Keeneland. She is Ward’s last shot at winning his 13th Royal Ascot race. The American is 0-for-4 thus far at the most prestigious week of English racing.
Avoiding 0-for-Royal Ascot 2022 won’t be easy. The Platinum Jubilee is loaded with Group 1-winning talent, starting with Australian Home Affairs. A stablemate of King’s Stand winner Nature Strip, Home Affairs actually beat his stablemate in the Lightning Stakes, a historic bellwether for Royal Ascot success.
Chris Waller, who trains both Nature Strip and Home Affairs, passed the opportunity to send Nature Strip into the Platinum Jubilee. Having Home Affairs in the Platinum Jubilee made the decision easier, but so did the looming presence of The Everest, the richest turf race in the world. Nature Strip won that last year. The last horse to pull off that double was Australian sprinter Choisir 19 years ago.
Embarrassment of sprinting riches for Waller
“We did want to keep them apart, for sure, but I think it will be a tough 1,200 meters (six furlongs) and I think Home Affairs is a very good 1,200-meter horse – not that Nature Strip is not,” Waller said. “This fit in well for Home Affairs, who is going to be a stallion once he leaves England. Running here, he could make his value even greater than it already is.”
The home talent starts with Alcohol Free, who won last year’s Coronation Stakes and Sussex Stakes. Then, there’s Creative Force, who won five times last year, including the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot and the British Champions Sprint last October.
One American runner, Spendarella, enjoyed a successful Friday. She finished second to unbeaten English filly Inspiral in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes. That victory ended a bad week for the usually reliable Frankie Dettori, who piloted last year’s European champion 2-year-old filly to a 4 ¾-length breeze.
Trained by Graham Motion, Spendarella held off Discoveries for second. The other American in the field, Bobby Flay’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Pizza Bianca, finished eighth.