December 2, 2023

Inspiral, Perfect Power impress on Royal Ascot Day 4

Inspiral was a class apart in her Coronation comeback (Photo by Megan Ridgwell/Ascot Racecourse)

Day 4 of the 2022 Royal Ascot meeting in England brought many fine performances, but arguably none as impressive as the tour-de-force Coronation S. (G1) victory posted by Inspiral.

Undefeated in four starts as a juvenile, including a decisive victory in the Fillies’ Mile (G1), Inspiral was heavily favored to claim the Coronation in her 2022 debut. Shrugging off her long layoff, the John and Thady Gosden trainee produced a stunning turn of foot after a slow start to trounce her pursuers by 4 3/4 lengths.

“It took a long time for Inspiral to come to hand,” said jockey Frankie Dettori, referring to Inspiral’s lengthy stretch on the sidelines. “John gave her the time she needed and, in her last couple of works, she told us she was good to go. It was a question mark if she trained on. She had pleased us, but we were still unsure.”

American raider Spendarella ran a determined race to hold second place in a three-way photo over Discoveries and Tenebrism. Cachet, Honey Girl, Sandrine, Pizza Bianca, Mangoustine, Prosperous Voyage, Grande Dame, and Rolling the Dice completed the order of finish.

Following the Coronation, John Gosden indicated facing older rivals is next on the agenda for Inspiral.

“You have races like the Nassau (G1) at Goodwood or you could go for the Prix Jacques Le Marois (G1) at Deauville. You have those sort of races. We have a nice series of races,” said Gosden. “Remember, you will meet the older horses now, but she does get weight from them which helps.”

Inspiral’s impressive victory marked a change in fortune for Dettori, who had gone winless during the first three days of the royal meeting. Dettori’s lifetime tally at Royal Ascot now stands at 77 wins, the second-highest total in history.

“It has been a very difficult week; it did not work out on Lord North, things did not go right for Stradivarius, we were touched off in the Britannia and the colt (Reach For The Moon) after was odds-on. It was tough,” said Dettori.

“When Inspiral fell out of the stalls, I thought ‘here we go again.’ Then the big outsider was in front of me, so I was trying to avoid her. Then I took the chance with the split. But you need the horse to do that, and she really took off, to the point that I was able to enjoy the last 50 yards for once! She has put some good fillies to bed in great style.”

Commonwealth Cup

The Coronation wasn’t the only Group 1 prize on Friday’s card. It was preceded by the Commonwealth Cup (G1), a six-furlong sprint for sophomores in which Perfect Power reiterated his superiority among young British sprinters.

A two-time Group 1 winner dashing six furlongs as a juvenile, Perfect Power failed to stretch out when finishing seventh in the 2000 Guineas (G1) racing one mile at Newmarket earlier this spring. But cutting back to six furlongs for the Commonwealth Cup triggered a rebound as the Richard Fahey trainee rallied powerfully under Christophe Soumillon to beat 19 rivals by 1 1/4 lengths.

“Perfect Power was the best two-year-old I have ridden in terms of speed and, now at three, he is still giving a great performance,” said Soumillon. “I hope this is just his first Group 1 of the season and I’m sure that if he went to Deauville for the Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1), that would be his race. Then maybe at the end of the season we go seven furlongs, but the trainer knows more than me.”

Flaming Rib and Flotus rounded out the trifecta, followed by Cadamosto, Miramar, Ehraz, Hala Hala Athmani, Tiber Flow, Zain Claudette, Go Bears Go, Sam Maximus, Wings of War, Sacred Bridge, Rizg, Gis a Sub, Boonie, Slipstream, El Caballo, Hierarchy, and Twilight Jet.

Albany S. (G3)

Friday’s card at Royal Ascot kicked off on a high note with the running of the Albany S. (G3) for juvenile fillies sprinting six furlongs. The Aidan O’Brien trainee Meditate received plenty of wagering support in the 18-horse field and ultimately led all the way to score by 1 3/4 lengths over Mawj and Ivory Madonna.

Meditate’s bold victory gave jockey Ryan Moore his fourth winner of the current royal meeting and his 70th overall. For Meditate, it marked her third triumph from as many starts.

“Meditate is professional. Aidan could not have had her any better today,” said Moore. “She did everything beautifully. She was out ahead of everything else, and we didn’t expect to be in front as she was waiting for something every time she was there.

“She kept finding a bit more. She has a relaxed way of going. She is a lovely filly who has a bit of class. You need class when you are making the running here over six furlongs.

“Meditate can carry on improving. She has a nice attitude. She did that professionally and comfortably.”

King Edward VII S. (G2)

Moore boosted his Royal Ascot tallies to five wins at the meet and 71 wins overall in the King Edward VII S. (G2), the final group event on the Friday card. O’Brien’s Changingoftheguard was heavily favored to claim top honors while exiting a fifth-place finish in the Derby (G1) at Epsom, and the son of Galileo didn’t disappoint, leading for much of the 1 1/2-mile journey before digging deep to deny the drifting Grand Alliance by a short head.

“Changingoftheguard is a tough hardy horse, and Ryan gave him a brilliant ride,” said O’Brien. “He is a very genuine horse and will stay further. We think the horse might be very happy going the St Leger (G1) trip. He doesn’t surrender.”

Saturday is the final day of 2022 racing at Royal Ascot. The meet wraps with three more group stakes on the agenda, including a strong renewal of the six-furlong Platinum Jubilee S. (G1). The latter will see American filly Campanelle seek her third career win at Royal Ascot, following successes in the 2020 Queen Mary S. (G2) and 2021 Commonwealth Cup.