Royal Ascot and what it means for us: Lady Aurelia, Highland Reel, and Big Orange

Tristan Rayner Editor

By Tristan Rayner, Tristan Rayner is a Roar Editor


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    Royal Asoct always has some potential impacts on Australian racing (Image: AAP)

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    Royal Ascot marks the time of year when Australian racing is pretty quiet and the European season really kicks off.

    Here’s the three notable performances that matter most to us in Australia:

    Ascot Gold Cup – Big Orange
    This wonderful Group 1 over 4023m rarely disappoints, and Big Orange gave a tough as teak performance in his first attempt beyond the Melbourne Cup distance of two miles (3200m).

    Just to make it even tougher, the Big O made the running for almost the entire trip, with jockey James Doyle letting him go at his own pace out front and he surged clear with 400m to go.

    Order Of St George, the favourite for the race, was some ten lengths off the lead at the turn home. Galloping home strongly with his head up, he looked like he was going to eat up Big Orange but wandered across the track to nudge his rival, the pair going stride for stride to the roar of the crowd. Big Orange held on gamely, doing just better than a bob of the head.

    Order Of St George, part owned by Lloyd Williams, certainly looked like he had his chance.

    Back in third was 2016 St Leger winner Harbour Law with Torcedor close to him in fourth – and that’s an important result for Cup followers.

    First to the winner – of particular interest is that trainer Michael Bell has said the six-year-old Big Orange won’t make another trip to Melbourne, after two unplaced finishes in his two attempts at Flemington.

    Order Of St George should be at least some chance of coming down, while Harbour Law looks like he’d have the right stuff but as a four-year-old stallion with only six starts to his name, is very unlikely to be risked.

    Torcedor, however, is the one to watch. I wrote about his story and chances a week or two ago and with Kiwi owners, he’s on track to be a Cup hope at some point. This year is more than a maybe, at a guess.

    Lady Aurelia
    How wonderful to see Lady Aurelia blitz the 1000m and give our Australians sprinters something to think about.

    On day one at Royal Ascot, she flew the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes over five furlongs in 57.45 seconds, just 0.01s outside of the course record held by our own speedster mare, Miss Andretti. Now, a few things to consider even if it was a frightfully good win: Aurelia carried a lighter weight than Andretti as a filly, and she didn’t appear to beat any true top level sprinting rivals.

    That didn’t stop Timeform giving her a monster rating of 135 for her win. Timeform really went for it – let’s not forget Black Caviar’s highest Timeform rating was 136, and Winx has only managed 134 at her peak.

    Of course ratings are a matter of opinion. Especially wrong opinion.

    Thankfully the ever-sensible Greg Carpenter confirmed the international ratings are less crazy.

    “Even with her three-length win over Profitable on Tuesday night in the Kings Stand, she’s (Lady Aurelia’s) going to come out of that race with a rating of around 121 or 122 which does put her up around the same mark as Chautauqua,” said Carpenter to

    “She’s pushing up there to be the highest-rated sprinter in the world but on official ratings she is still a long way off where Winx is.”

    All that aside, the talk of the town is Lady Aurelia heading to the $10m The Everest in the spring, and clashing with confirmed slot-holders Chautauqua and Fell Swoop, and possibly even Winx over 1200m, or six furlongs.

    The great news for the race is that it has people talking. The bad news is it’s pretty unlikely we’ll see the American-owned flying filly here.

    Part-owner George Bolton did the right thing for racing here, as he expressed his interest in The Everest, and the prizemoney:

    “Right now the end goal is to have her in my backyard for the Breeders Cup… but I think what we’re going to do is sit down and look at all the options,” Bolton said.

    “There is also a very big race [The Everest] in Australia – $10 million, six furlongs, three weeks before the Breeders Cup and $10 million is $10 million so that will get a look in as well.”

    There’s a few problems. She’s untested at 1200m and that extra 200m might leave her vulnerable.

    And $10 million is not $10 million. In current US dollar terms, it’s ‘only’ USD$7.5m.

    Also, first prize is $5.8 million in dollarydoos, and don’t forget the $600,000 entrance slot too, which brings it all to ‘just’ USD$3.92m.

    So $10 million is actually just under USD$4 million. Of course that’s still a ridiculously great purse for any horse and any race, anywhere.

    With the threat of Winx, a $600,000 gamble, Timeform ratings going into overdrive, and the need for Americans to impress Americans more than anyone else, I’m not yet convinced we’ll see her. It’ll be something if we do though!

    Highland Reel
    This horse is either the only decent middle-distance horse going around Britain or he’s an out-and-out freak who just loves to race.

    He won the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes (2000m), his sixth Group 1 and 300th for trainer Aidan O’Brien, beating out hot favourite Jack Hobbs who didn’t find enough on the day.

    It must be a strange feeling for the Eurosnobs when Highland Reel wins. Winx thrashed him in the Cox Plate when he finished third behind him and Criterion. Few forget that.

    Now each subsequent win by Highland Reel would appear to frank that form even further – even if the time between the clash is now stretching on.

    I can’t keep getting into Winx vs the world arguments but here’s a few facts. Since that 2015 Cox Plate third, Highland Reel has run 13 times in 12 Group 1s, and a Group 2, across six countries and eight different tracks, from 2,000m to 2,400m. He’s won five and placed in four. He’s pretty handy, you’d say.

    The mouth waters at what Winx could’ve done to them in that field, even with the disadvantages of travel and acclimatisation. 2018 please, Chris Waller!

    Tristan Rayner
    Tristan Rayner

    Tristan is a writer, consultant, racing enthusiast and former Editor of The Roar who has turned the Melbourne Cup into a year-round study via

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    The Crowd Says (14)

    • June 23rd 2017 @ 1:18pm
      Scuba said | June 23rd 2017 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

      “Aurelia carried a lighter weight than Andretti as a filly, and she didn’t appear to beat any Group 1 sprinting rivals.”

      Other than the last two winners of the race?

    • June 24th 2017 @ 12:38pm
      Jeff dustby said | June 24th 2017 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

      Your comment of 10 mil is not 10 mil doesn’t make any economic sense

      • Editor

        June 24th 2017 @ 8:01pm
        Tristan Rayner said | June 24th 2017 @ 8:01pm | ! Report

        But but but… that’s exactly what I explained in detail! You have to break these things down, Jeff!

        In any case, one big problem not mentioned is the length of quarantine necessary and that means it’s even more unlikely… sadly!

    • June 24th 2017 @ 4:36pm
      no one in particular said | June 24th 2017 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

      Torcedor is by Fastnet Rock. I can’t see a Fastnet Rock winning a Melbourne Cup

      Lady Aurelia is a 5f horse. I’d be surprised if it turns up

      And I wouldn’t use Australian Timeform ratings as a reference, they are a joke

      • Editor

        June 24th 2017 @ 8:03pm
        Tristan Rayner said | June 24th 2017 @ 8:03pm | ! Report

        He did just run fourth in a Group 1 over 4023m – it’s all about tactical speed in the Melbourne Cup here though so we’ll have to see! Not sure if $61 on the exchange is worth it this far out just yet though.

        • June 26th 2017 @ 3:49pm
          no one in particular said | June 26th 2017 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

          AGC hasn’t proven to be a great form reference for the MC. Sure, it’s a staying event, but run at a much different tempo and pressure. \

          The two best horses out of Ascot form a Cups perspective were the first two in the Hardwicke

          • Editor

            June 28th 2017 @ 1:31am
            Tristan Rayner said | June 28th 2017 @ 1:31am | ! Report

            You’re right there. Idaho looked as good as he ever has. O’Brien said “He can do plenty of travelling. We’ll test him this year. He’ll be busy.” …so maybe that means some time in Australia?

            The second horse Barsanti is coming through the grades nicely so we’ll see where the gelding goes next.

            • July 2nd 2017 @ 11:54am
              no one in particular said | July 2nd 2017 @ 11:54am | ! Report

              Barsanti was in the markets last year. Not sure why he never came. Idaho does have the Aussie blood being by Hvenger, and is half brother to Highand Reel

              Both Barsanti and Idaho are entered for a race on the 13th. Interesting entries – Journey, Scottish, Frontiersman, US Army Ranger, Prize Money, Dartmouth, Big Orange. Markets will change after that. I still think the winner of these races gets hit by the handicapper too much the last few years, so I’ll be looking beyond him.

              • Editor

                July 7th 2017 @ 12:24am
                Tristan Rayner said | July 7th 2017 @ 12:24am | ! Report

                You’re on the ball here mate – keep me close to your tips 😉

    • June 26th 2017 @ 9:53am
      Simon said | June 26th 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

      Love Highland Reel, but watching that race it’s pretty obvious that Winx would have been showered and changed by the time the others crossed the line. They’re no match for the best horse in the world.

    • Roar Guru

      July 13th 2017 @ 10:23am
      kv joef said | July 13th 2017 @ 10:23am | ! Report

      Some really nice articles keeping interest during the off-season.

      Thought Rose of St. George was terrific in the Ascot Gold. I’ve never been a big fan of the race and particularly as a pointer to the MCup … BUT if he is weighted to his mark less the normal discount given in handicaps … and shows up in that form … he is the benchmark in my book and i’m bullish. Actually i’ve two of Lloyd’s horses at the top of my current attrition-list. Still a bit of water to flow under the bridge but you have to start somewhere 🙂 .

      Enjoyed Ascot a great deal this year. Great racing through all days. Agree with Ward (and Carpenter’s assessment) about Lady Auriela – next year better/stronger and a sub 68sec over Randwick 1200 might find her out now … but she is v. quick. Let’s see how she measures up in a weaker Breeder’s Sprint at the end of the year?

      Caravaggio was terrific. Still learning but he is all racehorse and would expect him to win JULY in-front of Limato who was good in the Jublilee. So every chance to make the trip here to take Coolmore’s Everst spot. Can he beat the grey over the Randwick sprint … 🙂

      • Editor

        July 14th 2017 @ 5:12am
        Tristan Rayner said | July 14th 2017 @ 5:12am | ! Report

        Great to hear from you kv joef! Always appreciate your pointers!

      • Roar Guru

        September 12th 2017 @ 5:14pm
        kv joef said | September 12th 2017 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

        58kg Tristan … put him on the plane and then work out the trophy sharing arrangements 🙂 …

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