Shahryar finishes fourth in Prince of Wales’s Stakes
Shahryar, Japan’s first of two participants in this year’s Royal Ascot, made a bid to land the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on June 15. Though the 2021 Japanese Derby winner was unable to secure a placing, his fourth-place finish did best Japan’s prior three attempts in the Grade 1 turf event.
The 1,990-meter race that carries JPY92 million winner’s prize is held at Ascot Racecourse, and took place on the second day of the five-day, 35-race gala that is Royal Ascot.
Shahryar, who was returning to the turf nearly three months from his win of the Grade 1 Dubai Sheema Classic over 2,410 meters at Meydan, was Japan’s 11th horse to Royal Ascot since the first in 2000, when Agnes World took on the Grade 1 King’s Stand Stakes. His second-place finish still stands as Japan’s best overall result in the seven races contested thus far.
Wednesday afternoon saw clear skies with the going fast for the start of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, the day’s third race. Shahryar looked a bit feisty in the pre-parade ring, but loaded quietly and broke well under jockey Cristian Demuro.
Lord North, who loaded last wearing a blindfold, lost considerable ground when the gate opened but Frankie Dettori struggled for nearly three seconds to get the headgear off. State of Rest went straight to the lead, with Shahryar close behind, looking good and travelling perhaps a bit too eagerly just outside the leader on the right-handed track.
Into the stretch, however, Shahryar was already showing signs of tiring and was soon passed by favorite Bay Bridge under jockey Ryan Moore. The eventual runner-up was unable to get ahead of State of Rest, who finished a length in front.
“I had anticipated that the pace would be slow, so the jockey and I discussed it and we considered taking the lead,” trainer Hideaki Fujiwara commented after the race. “I think he looked good under way, but wouldn’t respond in the final stage. It may have been due to the Ascot hill and that may take some getting used to.”
Fujiwara added, “We took this on as a challenge this time and of course hoped to win, but we also wanted to see what kind of performance he would give.”
After work on the 11th, Demuro had cited the colt’s good balance and how he thought that would help him over the course’s undulations, but it proved not to suffice.
“This horse felt really good up to the final turn,” the jockey said. “In the stretch, however, even though he switched leads, he didn’t quicken as much as I thought he would. In the end, he had his head up and seemed to be feeling the strain.”
Fujiwara gave a moment to recognize all those involved in Shahryar’s excursion. “I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to all the people who supported us,” he said. “The owner, my staff who worked so hard to get the horse ready, the Roger Varian stable, where we were looked after, and all the fans who gave Shahryar their support. Thank you very much.”