To give you an idea of how good Campanelle is only four races into her career, she captured the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot last year in only her second start.
Plenty of horses win graded stakes their second time out — even graded stakes at a weighty meet like Royal Ascot. What’s so special about that victory – other than being trainer Wesley Ward’s 11th at Royal Ascot?
Well, last year’s edition of the Queen Mary spawned 10 individual winners. From that race alone.
This partially explains why Campanelle is the 4/1 favorite for Friday’s Group 1 Commonwealth Cup. That’s one of two Group 1s on Royal Ascot’s Friday card, joining the Coronation Cup. The two Group 1s go back-to-back, with the six-furlong Commonwealth going third on the seven-race card.
Campanelle and eight other fillies taking on the boys
This is only the seventh edition of the Commonwealth Cup, which didn’t join Royal Ascot’s card until 2015. And Campanelle is one of nine fillies in the 21-deep field, all seeking to join Quiet Reflection (2017) as the only fillies to win this race.
In Campanelle’s case, she knows these august digs very well. Actually, she knows several tracks very well. After beating her fellow juvenile fillies in the Queen Mary last June, Ward took her to Deauville Racecourse in France. There, she beat the boys in the Group 1 Prix Morny, running this same six-furlong distance.
Add in her 3 ½-length, maiden-breaking debut victory last May at Gulfstream Park, and Campanelle’s three victories came in three different countries.
Where is Campanelle’s form now?
That said, Campanelle does come in with some questions. She hasn’t run in 224 days since her lone defeat, a fourth at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland last December. Ward had her dialed in to run at Keeneland in April, but a heel bruise brushed those plans aside.
Instead, Ward trained her up to Royal Ascot, where this six-furlong distance suits her far more than the mile she ran at the Breeders’ Cup. The race notes said she “stayed on well until the final furlong, then gave way.” That, presumably, told Ward all he needs to know.
“We gave her a little time to get those heels back in order and every work she has done since has shown that she belongs in this race,” Ward told reporters. “Frankie (Dettori) worked her last Sunday (at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile) and was all smiles when he got off her. The fact she has not had a prep race is no issue at all for me. My sprinters generally come off the bench fresh and fire first time out. Everything about this race looks real suitable for her.”
Ward: Rain won’t be an issue
That, presumably, includes a weather forecast of rain at Ascot for Friday. Ward said Campanelle “won’t mind it” should the skies open up.
“She has mentally developed (since last year),” Ward told the Daily Mirror. “She’s well-traveled and seasoned. You can see where she’s really matured and settled in now. She’s carrying her weight a lot better this year.”
A victory here makes Campanelle only Ward’s second horse going back-to-back at Royal Ascot. She’d join Lady Aurelia, who won the 2016 Queen Mary and 2017 King’s Stand.
Ward’s charges not charging well this meet
Elsewhere on Thursday, Subjectivist denied 5/6 favorite Stradivarius his bid for history, beating the three-time defending champ in the Group 1 Gold Cup. At 13/2, Subjectivist romped home five lengths ahead of 28/1 Princess Zoe, validating his Dubai Gold Cup win in March. Stradivarius finished a well-beaten fourth.
In the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes, Ward’s two starters, Lucci (fifth) and Nakatomi (eighth), were no match for 14/1 winner Perfect Power. That head-length victory over Go Bears Go earned Perfect Power a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint this November at Del Mar.
Favorites taking a Royal beating this week
Upsets were the order of the day again on Thursday. Loving Dream captured the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at 18/1. That gave John and Thady Gosden their fourth Royal Ascot victory, taking some of the sting out of Stradivarius’ defeat.
Highfield Princess, also at 18/1 took the Buckingham Palace, beating 27 other horses as the only filly in the field. And another 18/1 shot, Perotto, won the Brittania, a straight mile race. In the King George V, 5/1 Surefire prevailed over the 1 ½ miles. The only favorite to win Thursday was 11/8 Mohaafeth in the Group 3 Hampton Court