Royal Ascot is the UK’s premier Flat festival because it attracts international racehorses to run during the meeting every single year. We’re not just simply talking about lots of Irish raiders here, but thoroughbreds trained in Europe and beyond.
Take a stroll down memory lane with us as we remember the greatest overseas winners in Royal Ascot history.
French Flat stayer Sagaro was a real force to be reckoned with in the mid-1970s. A then record three-time consecutive winner of the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot which has seen been surpassed by the mighty Yeats, 1976 was the most golden year of his career. It’s no wonder he has a race, the Sagaro Stakes, named after him at this racecourse.
We know the Prix du Cadran – Europe’s other Group 1 Flat race over two-and-a-half miles – today as part of the Arc weekend at Longchamp in October. In the 1970s, however, it took place in late May meaning within the space of a month Sagaro won both of these ultimate tests of Flat stamina.
Sticking with the French connection, after hanging up his whip Royal Ascot winning jockey turned trainer Freddy Head had a real star on his hands with Goldikova. A prolific Grade/Group 1 winner, this filly landed the 2010 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot when prevailing by a neck over Paco Boy en route to a third consecutive Breeders’ Cup Mile success in America.
Goldikova won four renewals of the Prix Rothschild at Deauville and has a place in the US Racing Hall of Fame. She was the best miler of her generation and named European Horse of the Year in 2010.
From milers to sprinters now. Australian speedster Black Caviar was unbeaten Down Under but, as any horse racing guide will tell you, form in the Southern Hemisphere does not always translate to Europe.
This wonder-mare was a star attraction of Royal Ascot 2012 when contesting the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Black Caviar’s jockey thought he had put the race to bed and stopped riding her, but she repelled the late challenge of Moonlight Cloud to preserve that undefeated streak and her legendary status.
It is hard enough for domestic racehorses to come back to Royal Ascot and win races year after year, so imagine the difficulty for those making transatlantic voyages. That was no sweat for Wesley Ward’s American filly Lady Aurelia, though.
Not content with success in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes of 2016, she was back at Royal Ascot 12 months later for another sprint victory in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes over the flying five furlongs. Lady Aurelia also won the Prix Morny in France.
No discussion of sprinters and international runners at Royal Ascot would be complete without Choisir. In 2003, he became the first horse in history to win both the King’s Stand and Diamond Jubilee in the same season on his first trip away from Australia.
This rare Royal Ascot sprint double has only been done once since, by Blue Point in 2019. Choisir was named European Champion Sprinter on the back of his incredible exploits and, also like Black Caviar, has a deserved place in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.