Having stewards elevate Campanelle to victory was a novel way for trainer Wesley Ward to win his 12th Royal Ascot race. But after the American trainer endured a less-than-regal slog at Royal Ascot this week, Ward was not throwing this Group 1 Commonwealth Cup victory back.

Commonwealth Cup
Campanelle (left) and Dragon Symbol needed a photo finish and stewards’ inquiry to decide the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. Dragon Symbol won the photo by a head, but Campanelle prevailed after Dragon Symbol was cited for interference. (Image: Rex Features)

Off as the 5/1 second-favorite, Campanelle finished a head behind 4/1 favorite Dragon Symbol over the six-furlong sprint. But stewards ruled after a 20-minute inquiry that Dragon Symbol bumped into Campanelle and forced her anywhere from six to eight paths wide.

After watching video and interviewing both Campanelle’s jockey Frankie Dettori and Dragon Symbol’s rider Oisin Murphy, the stewards elevated Campanelle to first. Dragon Symbol was dropped to second. It was five lengths back to 12/1 Measure of Magic in third.

“It is never nice winning a race in the stewards’ room,” Dettori told Royal Ascot. “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. I was coming back on the line, and it was a good effort by Campanelle and by the original winner, but I’m glad that we got it.”

Campanelle owns a sixth of Ward’s Royal Ascot wins

Ward was ecstatic with his 12th Royal Ascot winner since he began bringing horses over in 2009. Campanelle accounts for two of those: this year’s Commonwealth Cup and last year’s Queen Mary Stakes. And given Ward’s 2021 Royal Ascot meet, where only Twilight Gleaming hit the board among his seven previous starters, Ward needed this one.

“We are elated,” Ward told Royal Ascot. “Both horses ran fantastic, they dug down deep and they were only inches apart. I think it was a validated result – in the United States terms, he has taken her across the track. … This was Campanelle’s first run since the Breeders’ Cup. It was a gritty performance on heavy ground and, to come back from that, it is a true testament of how good this filly is.”

That gritty performance gave Campanelle her fourth victory in five races. Her fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at a mile last November being her only blip. Two of those victories came in Group 1s: this Commonwealth Cup and last year’s Prix Morny in France. And it provided a solid base to build on going forward in 2021.

“Campanelle is going up the pecking order. Lady Aurelia was very special, but if she keeps delivering, she’ll keep going up,” Ward said, referring to his other two-time Royal Ascot winner: Lady Aurelia.

Starman may be star-crossed, thanks to weather

One horse who may not deliver is Starman in Saturday’s Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes. The 4-year-old sprinting star was the favorite for the six-furlong dash, but trainer Ed Walker told reporters he probably won’t run. That, because of Friday’s torrential downpour softening the course and taking Starman’s quick turn of foot away.

“His only defeat so far came on soft ground here last year,” Walker told Sky Sports. “It’s frustrating as not only is it a lovely opportunity at Royal Ascot, but some of the other races he might go for, like the Maurice de Gheest and the Sprint Cup at Haydock, are often run on soft ground. So it’s frustrating to lose a summer target to freakish weather.”

Ascot took such a weather beating – more than an inch of rain overnight — that clerk of the course Chris Stickels called for an inspection around 12:45 p.m. local time. Stickels and stewards interviewed everyone from riders Dettori, Murphy and Ryan Moore to trainers Aidan O’Brien, Ralph Beckett and Richard Hannon to various British Horse Association executives.

“Having considered the evidence, the Stewards were satisfied that racing could commence,” Royal Ascot said in a statement.

Upsets the rule in five of the seven races

When racing commenced, with some rail adjustments, Murphy piloted 9/2 Alcohol Free to victory in the day’s other Group 1 race: the one-mile Coronation Stakes. Favorite Mother Earth (3/1) finished third, behind 16/1 Snow Lantern.

Even-money favorite Alenquer took the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes.

Again, there were upsets with 17/1 Sandrine beating 4/1 co-favorite Hello You in the opener: the Group 3 Albany Stakes. Create Belief (6/1) won the Sandringham Stakes, which originally featured a 32-horse field whittled to 21 with scratches. Murphy and 4/1 Quickthorn captured the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes and 11/1 Significantly wrapped the day up winning the Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes.