By Nicholas Godfrey
GB: Champion jockey Oisin Murphy is set for two high-profile US rides at Royal Ascot next week headed by Breeders’ Cup winner Sharing, whom he will partner in the Coronation Stakes.
Murphy, who enjoyed his first Classic success in Britain over the weekend with Kameko’s 2,000 Guineas triumph, will also ride Qatar Racing’s Sheriff Bianco for Wesley Ward in Wednesday’s Windsor Castle Stakes.
Ward is planning to run seven horses at the royal meeting – six two-year-olds plus last year’s Queen Mary Stakes runner-up Kimari, the mount of Frankie Dettori in the Commonwealth Cup.
Sharing beat several top European visitors to win last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf at Santa Anita, after which trainer Graham Motion immediately mentioned Royal Ascot as a potential target – only for the worldwide pandemic to nearly scupper the plan.
However, after the daughter of Speightstown won nicely on her seasonal debut at Churchill Downs on May 23, the royal meeting came back into the reckoning – even though her connections will be unable to attend owing to coronavirus restrictions.
“If you’d asked me a month ago were we going to do this, I would’ve said no way,” admitted Motion.
“But the race at Churchill came out of nowhere and it feel right into the wheelhouse of the week we had hoped to run her to get her to Ascot.
“We didn’t even know if it was practical,” he added, speaking to Great British Racing International. “But once she ran and won so well, it kind of got the thought process going again.”
In-form Murphy has been booked for the filly, who is due to arrive in Britain on Tuesday.
Motion added: “For me, who grew up in Newmarket, my parents lived in England most of their lives, to come back to Royal Ascot with a legitimate chance, you can’t top that.
“Royal Ascot has been on my radar for six or seven years, trying to keep up with Wesley Ward and what he’s been able to do but I haven’t been able to do quite as well!”
Sharing is owned in partnership by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gainesway Stable.
Also interviewed for GBRI, Eclipse founder/president Aron Wellman said: “Everyone’s feeling the pain of the pandemic and numerous cultural and social issues that are going on in the world and this is sort of a gesture of unity, of sportsmanship and trying to bring the world closer together.”
At a Royal Ascot like no other, this year’s running order has been changed, with six new races at the five-day meeting behind-closed doors, making a total of 36. As a result, the Coronation Stakes is now one of three G1s on an eight-race Saturday card alongside the St James’s Palace Stakes and Diamond Jubilee.
“This is really about the filly,” added Wellman. “She really does deserve the opportunity to do what we’re asking her to do.
“Some of the best European fillies came to America for the Breeders’ Cup and we got the best of them on that occasion and we feel it’s appropriate, if she’s doing well and showing all the right signs, that we try to do it over there as well.”
Royal Ascot regular Wesley Ward is planning to field a team of seven as he seeks his 11th winner at the meeting. Housed at their termporary base at the National Stud, the Ward contingent are being prepared in Newmarket under the watchful eye of Frankie Dettori.
Commitments for John Gosden notwithstanding, Ward hopes Dettori will be free to partner the majority of his juveniles, though Murphy has been lined up for Sheriff Bianco, a runner-up on dirt at Churchill Downs on May 22 on his only start.
He will be joined by stablemate Sunshine City in Wednesday’s Windsor Castle. Flying Aletha (Albany), Golden Pal (Norfolk), Campanelle and Royal Approval (Queen Mary) are Ward’s other intended two-year-old runners.
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