It is the best week of racing anywhere in the world. There are a lot of great horse racing events—weekends and carnivals--but nothing quite rivals the racing at Royal Ascot. This year, so far, the weather has been great, the ground quite fast (and not yet soft, at least, and not really likely to be), and the first two days of racing have been right up to scratch.
The disappointment, of course, was that in spite of everybody’s best efforts, Animal Kingdom retired himself to stud, as Team Valor supremo Barry Irwin recounted in these pages on Tuesday. His mind was on a different job than racing, end of story. The fairytale didn’t come off, but he still retires to Arrowfield Stud in Australia (and then Darley in Kentucky) as the winner of the GI Kentucky Derby on dirt, the G1 Dubai World Cup on synthetic, and with a huge second to Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the GI Breeders’ Cup Mile on the turf, and with a fantastic, essentially outcross international pedigree (he is inbred 4x4 to Lyphard but otherwise carries a lot of crosses of high-quality non-Phalaris blood).
Though he’s by a really good, high-quality Blushing Groom-line horse in Leroidesanimaux, his dam is by the German sire Acatenango, and physically Animal Kingdom looks much more like one of those big, tough German horses than the smaller, high-quality Blushing Groom type. German breeders--and other breeders who recognize a tough, sound, ‘German’ type, have been searching for a horse that they could patronize as a successor to the late great Monsun. Maybe Animal Kingdom can be that horse.