With a cancellation in 2020 and reduced crowd numbers in 2021 due to the pandemic, this year’s Royal Ascot was always going to be one to savour. As capacity crowds filed into Ascot Racecourse for the five-day meet, the air of excitement amongst racing fans was palpable. While one would be harsh for not cutting the event’s organisers some slack provided how turbulent the past couple of years have been – no grace was needed as they didn’t miss a beat.
Stacked race cards comprising of world-rated horses, jockeys and trainers were on the bill from start to finish – ensuring an incredible week of racing for those who enjoy to have a bet on horses.
There was a plethora of major talking points that could be taken away from Royal Ascot 2022, however, it was the meeting’s phenomenal action trackside which dominated discussion. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the standout performers who took part in the UK & Ireland’s most prestigious flat-racing occasion.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt’s performance in the Gold Cup was simply remarkable. In what is the crown jewel fixture on the Royal Ascot schedule, the four-year-old’s ability to remain manoeuverable throughout an imperfect ride is what separated him from his competition. While Mojo Star and three-time Gold Cup winner Stradivarius made valiant advances late on, it was not enough to topple the in-form colt. Last month’s victory is yet another feather in the cap for Kyprios, whose impressive calendar year also includes wins in the Saval Beg Levmoss Stakes at Leopardstown, along with a dominant showing in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan in April.
With the pressure of a nation on his back and the world-ranked American superstar Golden Pal entering the race as favourite, Nature Strip needed to perform exceptionally well if he were to come away with a victory in the King’s Stand Stakes. He delivered in spades, destroying the field in commanding fashion to win by more than four and a half lengths. The Chris-Waller trained gelding became the first Australian horse to win at Royal Ascot since Black Caviar accomplished the feat in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes ten years ago – two achievements which will most certainly go down in Australian horse racing folklore.
After the race, discussion immediately turned to Nature Strip’s standing as the world’s best – and off the back of a display like that, you would be hard-pressed to find many in the sport who would argue otherwise.
Securing his ninth Royal Ascot jockeys’ title with an incredible seven wins in this year’s campaign, Ryan Moore continues to write his way into the history books. While you could harp on endlessly about any one of his seven triumphs at the 2022 meet, it was his performance atop Broome in the Hardwicke Stakes which had fans and pundits of the sport watching on in amazement. After deciding to take on the leading role throughout the race, Moore’s decision-making and well-timed offences complemented Broome’s unwavering fitness and effortless rhythm perfectly. It’s that sort of showing that leads many to believe that Moore is currently the best jockey in world racing.
When discussing prominent figures in the sport of horse racing in the UK & Ireland, the name of trainer Aidan O’Brien invariably comes up. His impeccable resume speaks for itself, and the 52-year-old managed to notch up yet another milestone after winning his 11th Royal Ascot trainers’ title. O’Brien trained five winners throughout the week, including Little Big Bear, Kyprios, Meditate, Changingoftheguard and Broome. His number of Royal Ascot wins now stands at 81 – just one shy of Sir Michael Stoute.
A trainer who deserves an honourable mention for their Royal Ascot campaign is Jane Chapple-Hyam. Although the Australian-British trainer entered just three runners across the five days, her meeting was a resounding success as she came away with two winners and a second place. Given Chapple-Hyam has a much smaller stable compared to that of some of her contemporaries, wins in the Hampton Court and the Duke of Cambridge Stakes are to be respected.