Platinum Jubilee Stakes - Grenadier Guards finds Jubilee ‘too busy,' finishes 19th amid 24
On June 18, the final day of five at Royal Ascot, Grenadier Guards, Japan’s second runner to the entire event this year, was unable to get as close to the front as Shahryar had earlier in the week in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
Grenadier Guards, a 4-year-old son of Frankel, was also Japan’s second entrant ever (the first was 17 years ago) in the Platinum Jubilee Stakes, a Grade 1 competition over 1,200 meters of turf on the Ascot straight course.
Away at 4:20 p.m. (local time) Saturday afternoon, Grenadier Guards, partnered with Cristian Demuro, had given trainer Mitsumasa Nakauchida moments of hope with a furlong to go, but then sank back to finish 19th among the field of 24 runners.
Two 4-year-olds, the Great Britain-bred colt Naval Crown and the Irish-bred gelding Creative Force ruled the day, with a one-two finish for Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby, who bagged his fourth win in this year’s Royal Ascot.
Naval Crown, breaking from the No. 20 gate, raced prominently on the near side of the righthanded track, while stablemate Creative Force, who departed from the No. 1 gate, quickly moved to the center, and with 2 furlongs to go made good headway and took the lead just past the furlong mark.
In a thrilling finish, however, he was headed in the final strides by stablemate Naval Crown, a longshot and, like Grenadier Guards, a relative newcomer to sprints. Japan’s challenger also raced in the center, but toward the rear. Urged on by Demuro about 2 furlongs out, he responded well, only to weaken inside the final furlong.
Grenadier Guards, who had accompanied Shahryar to England and had been housed with him at the stables of Roger Varian since May 31, was racing under 59.5 kg, his heaviest assigned weight to date by 2.5 kg.
The top two finishers are both by Dubawi, with winner Naval Crown clocking 1 minute 12.17 seconds under James Doyle, and runnerup Creative Force following him over the line a neck later under William Buick. Three-quarters of a length behind them were two in a deadheat for third -- Australia’s Artorius under Jamie Spencer and the U.S.-trained filly Campanelle, with Irad Ortiz Jr. up.
The ground and the distance were the main factors cited in Grenadier Guard’s disappointing showing. “The ground on the inside was a lot tougher than I’d imagined it would be,” said Demuro. “And it seemed like it was a lot more difficult to run on. It was soft and not suited to this horse.”
Grenadier Guards ran under the No. 10 but had been assigned the No. 4 gate and ran in the inside group of 15. “The outside ground may have made for an easier trip,” Demuro said. “He wasn’t in bad shape, but I do think the 1,200 meters was a bit busy for him.”
Watching the race, Nakauchida’s hopes had risen, only to be dashed. “For a moment there when he was moving up, I thought ‘Oh!’ but the ground he’d quickly gained was just as quickly lost in the end. It was unfortunate but only because I’d had my expectations up.”
Nakauchida’s sentiments echoed the rider’s. “I do think a big factor was the distance and 6 furlongs looks to have been too busy for him. Also, the ground wasn’t to his liking. He prefers a much harder track. Though the ground was officially “good to firm,” it was still relatively soft compared to Japan. “In Japan,” Nakauchida said, “it would have been considered ‘slightly heavy.’
“Nonetheless, this time, we took on the challenge knowing there were a lot of things that could only be known by giving it a try. It’s been a good experience.”
It was the first overseas excursion for the Northern Farm-bred Grenadier Guards, who races under the Sunday Racing colors. It was the fifth Grade 1 bid for the bay colt, who claimed the 2020 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1, 1,600, Hanshin). He was coming off a 12th-place in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1, 1,200, Chukyo), which had been his first test over 6 furlongs.
The Platinum Jubilee Stakes dates back to 1868 and the race name changes to commemorate the queen’s reign. In 2005 the race was held at York Racecourse due to construction at Ascot, and the race was called the Golden Jubilee Stakes. That year saw Japan’s only previous runner, the Hideyuki Mori-trained Keeneland Swan, finish 10th under Andreas Suborics.