Australian win at Ascot: More horsepower than the Queen

Dhe most famous gallop fan in the world has not been there so far, contrary to custom: Queen Elizabeth II follows the five-day Royal Ascot, which ends this Saturday, only in front of the television – although the meeting has been a permanent fixture in her diary for decades and the racecourse is a short carriage ride from their headquarters at Windsor Castle.

But the 96-year-old monarch continues to have “mobility issues,” as Buckingham Palace put it. Pain, which she also recently slowed down to a large extent at the four-day celebrations for her 70th jubilee. “Clearly the Queen is disappointed not to be there, especially as she loves to see the horses in the parade ring before the race,” said her race manager, John Warren. “But she’ll watch every minute in front of the TV.”

The Queen shares her passion for horse racing with many of her former subjects down under. Because Australia is one of the leading horse racing nations in the world. International starts, especially in Europe, are rather rare for horses trained there. The journey is too far, the earning potential at home too good. However, a win at the most famous gallop meeting in the world has a high priority.

The best sprinter in the world

Chris Waller says the same thing: “Winning here means a lot to me, it’s something very special,” said the trainer after the impressive success of the seven-year-old Nature Strip on the opening day of the 1000-meter King’s Stand the chance to do so.” Waller spoke of an “important victory”. Australia has a tremendous breeding and racing industry and “we want to show the world that our industry is important and powerful”. That should have been successful: Nature Strip, bred in Australia, is currently classified as the best sprinter in the world.

In the industry, Waller’s name is primarily associated with the exceptional mare Winx. Between 2015 and 2019 she competed in 47 races and won 37 of them. She remained unbeaten 33 times in a row, including 28 Group I races, i.e. tests in the highest category. That’s a world record. Winx earned the equivalent of more than 17 million euros in prize money. Above all, the mare had what is known in the technical jargon as a “turn of foot”, ie the ability to accelerate again in the final sprint. Her countless weather conditions often made Winx sweat, because she usually decided her races in the last 200 meters.

Born in 1973, Waller grew up on his parents’ dairy farm in southern New Zealand. His interest in horse racing was sparked by television. The Melbourne Cup in particular, Australia’s most important race, fascinated him even as a young boy – triggered by the cup victory of the New Zealand horse Kiwi in 1983. That’s how the round ended last November when Waller with the mare Verry Elleegant – no misprint – won the million-dollar test over 3200 meters.

After starting out at home, he moved to Australia at the turn of the millennium, where he started modestly with 20 horses in his care. His breakthrough came in 2008 when he celebrated his first Group I win with Triple Honour. Since then, more than 130 have joined. Another one is to follow this Saturday: In the Platinium Jubilee Stakes over 1200 meters, three-year-old Home Affairs, prepared by Waller, is the favourite.

The 26 rivals also include a horse belonging to the queen. However, five-year-old King’s Lynn, coached by Andrew Balding, is only one of the underdogs. On Tuesday, he finished seventh out of 16 behind Nature Strip. The Queen will nonetheless be careful where her royal colors end up – whether in front of the television at the castle or maybe on the spot.

In any case, the cheers of the 60,000 spectators would be enormous. Her last winner at Royal Ascot was two years ago with Tactical, fittingly in the Windsor Castle Stakes. Because of the corona pandemic, however, there were no spectators on site, not even the queen.

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