Super Moon out of luck at Royal Ascot
As all good things must surely come to an end, the same can be said of the five exhilarating days of racing at Royal Ascot this past week, and as the meeting came to a close on Saturday, one of racing’s greatest spectacles more than lived up to its reputation as something a lot more than just horseracing.
Going into the final day, Japanese hopes were pinned on the 6-year-old, Super Moon, who was attempting to better Spielberg’s sixth place finish in the Grade 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes earlier in the week. The same connections had decided to run Super Moon in the Wolferton Handicap Stakes, a Listed race over 2000 meters, as opposed to the Grade 2 Hardwicke Stakes, in which the horse also held an entry. Either race looked to be highly competitive, with the former initially attracting sixteen runners, although come the day, thirteen lined up for the race, which has been run in its current format since 2002, the year Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Golden Jubilee. Super Moon was set to carry 57.5 kgs with Christian Demuro in the saddle, and was trying to win for the fourth time in his twelfth start over this trip. He’d placed third three times and second once among those other races.
The Wolferton Handicap Stakes was race two on the card on Saturday, and the going remained at good to firm for the final day. Super Moon was sent off a 16/1 shot and got away well from stall three, taking a sit on the inside, as Richard Hughes took Fattsota into the lead, which was where he stayed until well into the race. Once again, the pace could have been quicker for the Japanese horse, as Christian Demuro bided his time in about fifth position for most of the race. Fattsota continued to cut out the running as the runners turned right-handed and headed back towards the stands, with Sennockian Star in second and race favorite, Mahsoob, not too far behind. As the field turned for home, Super Moon looked to be in a position to challenge, with runners on the outside still with work to do. Sennockian Star briefly hit the front, but once Mahsoob finally saw daylight, the 4-year-old rallied nicely under jockey Paul Hanagan to go on and win. Sennockian Star stayed on to take second, with Fire Fighting finishing strongly into third, while other horses on the outside finally got going, including Mount Logan and Provenance, leaving Super Moon, who hung left in the straight, to fade to tenth, but who was only beaten by three to four lengths, such was the way of the finish.
Winning trainer, John Gosden, who was winning the race for the third time since 2011, commented: “The horse was a little bit keen early, but the jockey said he hit the line running, and that was good to hear.” The trainer may send the horse to the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot next month. Jockey Paul Hanagan was riding his first winner at the Royal meeting this year, but had a lot of praise for Mahsoob, saying, “I know he stays the trip well, so I wanted to make up ground as soon as we got into the straight. The key to him is that he has such a fantastic temperament, which makes our job a lot easier.” Mahsoob, who is by Dansili, is owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum, and was bred by Shadwell Estate Company Ltd. The winning distances were 1/2 a length and a head, and the winning time was 2 minutes 5.33 seconds.
Christian Demuro had the following to say about Super Moon’s performance: “He settled well and his action was good during the race, but in the home straight, he seemed to tighten up and couldn’t go with the others.” So Agnes World’s runner up finish in the King’s Stand Stakes in 2000 remains Japan’s best effort at Royal Ascot, and it’s no easy task taking on top class races like these, but connections of Spielberg and Super Moon can come away knowing they’ve given it their best shot, and in the years to come, there will surely be more challengers emerging from Japan.