The Keeneland Path to Royal Ascot Glory
From the Sales Ring to the Winner’s Enclosure
It’s nearly 4,000 miles from Lexington, Ky., to Ascot Racecourse in England, but that distance has not proven a barrier to horses that have gone from the sale ring at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale into the winner’s enclosure at the prestigious Royal Meet that is often frequented by Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family. Among the Keeneland to Ascot stars are Group 1 and 2 winners Con Te Partiro, Hootenanny, Lady Aurelia, No Nay Never, Order of St. George, Roaring Lion, Strong Suit and Undrafted.
Ward Embraces Ascot
Keeneland-based trainer Wesley Ward was a trailblazer in 2009 when he became the first American trainer to saddle a winner at Royal Ascot. He has subsequently made the overseas trek on a regular basis and has credited his success there with boosting his career.
Quite the Lady
At the top of the list of Ward-trained Ascot champions is Lady Aurelia, who parlayed a victory in Ascot’s Queen Mary (G2) into European champion 2-year-old filly honors, marking the first U.S.-based horse to win a Cartier Award. The Scat Daddy filly returned to Ascot the following year to dominate in the King’s Stand S. (G1). Bred by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, Lady Aurelia was acquired by George Bolton and Peter Leidel from James M. Herbener Jr. at the 2015 September Sale for $350,000, and Banke kept a piece of the filly after the sale.
A Group 1-Winning Loner
Trained by Ward for Wes Welker and Sol Kumin, Undrafted was as talented on the track as he was quirky when not competing, as he displayed with an explosive closing kick to win the Diamond Jubilee (G1) at Royal Ascot. The son of Purim was purchased by Hat Creek Racing for $50,000 from the September Sale consignment of breeder Catesby Clay’s Runnymede Farm and went on to amass earnings of $1.5 million.
Roaring Into History
Qatar Racing’s Roaring Lion scored four Group 1 successes, including the Queen Elizabeth II (G1) at Royal Ascot, en route to being honored as Cartier Horse of the Year in 2018. Trained by John Gosden, the son of Kitten’s Joy was a $160,000 purchase by David Redvers on behalf of Qatar Rcing from Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent for breeder RanJan Racing. Roaring Lion earned more than $3.5 million, with eight wins and three placings in 12 starts.
More Ascot Success for Hat Creek & Ward
Another Ascot star for Hat Creek Racing and trainer Ward was the globe-trotting mare Con Te Partiro, winner of the Sandringham Handicap at the Royal Meet in 2017. The daughter of Scat Daddy bred by K.C. Garrett Farm was purchased by Gatewood Bell’s Cromwell Bloodstock for $130,000 from Taylor Made Sales Agency. She would go on to win two group 1 races in Australia during a five-year career that saw her perform on three different continents.
Coolmore Scores at Ascot
Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier have enjoyed great success at Royal Ascot with September Sale graduates, headed by Gold Cup (G1) winner Order of St George (IRE) and Group 2 winners No Nay Never and Hootenanny. Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Order of St George was Europe’s leading stayer. Bred by Paget Bloodstock, he was bought by Blandford Bloodstock for $550,000 at Keeneland. Both No Nay Never and Hootenanny were acquired at Keeneland by Cromwell and both were trained by Ward. Hootenanny, bred by Barronstown, was a $75,000 purchase from St George Sales. No Nay Never, bred by Jayne Doi Johnson and David Sparrow, was sold by Paramount Sales for $95,000 and raced in partnership with Ice Wine Stable.
Hawkbill a Godolphin Buy
Bought by John Ferguson for $350,000 from Gainesway, Hawkbill proved his purchase price a good value as he went on to earn more than $4.7 million while carrying the distinctive blue colors of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Godolphin. Among the 10 wins for the son of Kitten’s Joy, who raced in six countries and was a group 3 winner at Ascot, were the Coral Eclipse (G1) at Sandown and the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) at Meydan. He was bred by the Helen K. Groves Revokable Trust.