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Alan on Ascot: Day One

The first day of the Royal Ascot meeting produced some remarkably international results. The opening race - the Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I) for 4-year-olds and up over a mile - saw Australian-foaled Haradasun narrowly get the better of last year's classic fillies Darjina (by Zamindar) and Finsceal Beo (by Mr. Greeley).

Haradasun, the Australia's champion 3-year-old of his crop, was the subject of a part-purchase by Coolmore that set his value as the most expensive horse ever sold in Australia. Sent to Ireland to be trained by Aiden O'Brien, Haradasun was unsuited by a muddling pace in the Lockinge Stakes (Aus-I) on his Australian debut, but the tough Ascot mile proved just to his liking.

Rated A++ by TrueNicks, Haradasun is by Fusaichi Pegasus out of Marscay mare Circles of Gold, a top class runner who won the AJC Oaks and Coongy Handicap (both Aus-I), Adrian Knox Stakes, and Ansett Australia Stakes, and was also second in the Caulfield Cup, Queensland Oaks, and Fruit ‘n' Veg Stakes (all Aus-I). Haradasun is half-brother to another Australian who made an impact on the world stage in Elvstroem (by Danehill, a son of Fusaichi Pegasus's broodmare sire, Danzig). A four-time grade Iwinner in Australia, Elvstroem also captured the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I), took third in the Prince of Wales's Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot, and second in the Prix d'Ispahan (Fr-I). Shortly after the race, it was announced that, "mission accomplished" and his ability proven on the world stage, Haradasun would be retired forthwith, and return to Australia to prepare for the coming breeding season.

If Haradasun didn't give the Coolmore boys enough reason to go for the Champagne - or perhaps more appropriately the delectable Guinness/Champagne mix of Black Velvet - the victory of their Henrythenavigator in the St. James's Palace Stakes (Eng-I), certainly would have. Winner of the Coventry Stakes (Eng-II) at the Royal meeting last year, Henrythenavigator had beaten English Derby (Eng-I) winner New Approach in the English and Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I, Ire-I) on his first two starts this term. Her, he again produced a tremendous turn of foot to run down Elusive Quality's talented son Raven's Run to win by 3/4length in a new course record time. By Kingmambo out of a Sadler's Wells mare, Henrythenavigator is bred on the famed Kingmambo/Sadler's Wells cross that has also produced group I winners Virginia Waters, Divine Proportions, Thewayyouare, and El Condor Pasa.

The King's Stand Stakes (Eng-I), run over five furlongs, saw 3-year-old Equiano defeat his elders. The Spanish-trained Equiano narrowly held off the 9-year-old Australian star Takeover Target, with English-trained 3-year-old filly Fleeting Spirit a good third. Equilano is the second group Iwinner from the first crop of Accalamation, England's leading freshman sire of 2007. A smart sprinter, Acclamation is by European champion 2-year-old Royal Applause. He is by the good miler Waajib, a son of Try My Best (full brother to El Gran Senor, and himself a juvenile champion).

The day's two juvenile stakes fell to the offspring of first year stallions. The Coventry Stakes (Eng-II) went to Art Connoisseur. He is a member of the first crop of the Champagne Stakes (Eng-II) winner Lucky Story. A son of Kris S., Lucky Story is a brother to Dr. Fong, winner of the St. James's Palace Stakes (Eng-I) at the Royal Meeting and himself a useful sire. Art Connoisseur is out of the Danehill mare Withorwithoutyou, a granddaughter of Marning Has Broken, and ancestress of several other major winners including classic heroine Balanchine.

The Coventry runner-up, Intense Focus, is also out of a Danehill mare. Rated A++ by TrueNicks, he is another product of the Giant's Causeway/Danehill cross that has already produced Australian grade I winner Juste Momente, graded winner Murjana, and stakes winner Causeway Queen. Intense Focus is bred to be effective well beyond the six furlongs of the Coventry Stakes, and if he fulfills his potential, one wonders whether Coolmore will be tempted to send Giant's Causeway back to Ireland, where he would have access to an almost unlimited supply of Danehill mares.

The Windsor Castle Stakes fell to 100-1 shot Flashmans Papers. He's a son of Exceed and Excel. An Australian-bred son of Danehill, Exceed and Excel was a sprint star in his native land, and also captured the July Cup (Eng-I) on a trip to England. The leading Australian freshman sire of the current season, he's clearly starting in a similar vein in Europe. Rated A++ by TrueNicks, Flashmans Papers is out of Franglais, a German-foaled daughter of Lion Cavern (brother to Gone West). Interestingly enough, Exceed and Excel has sired Australian graded winner Believe'n'Succeed out of a mare by Gone West.

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