Royal Ascot is the pinnacle for anybody involved in horse racing in this part of the world. We start thinking about next year’s meeting as soon as the last race is run this year. No joking, it is a 12-month build-up, such is the importance of these very special five days.
To explain it to the non-racing person, Royal Ascot is racing’s Olympics. In sports, its status is respected, universally acknowledged, and beyond dispute.
We at Godolphin are really looking forward to the week. We are fielding the strongest team that I can remember, but the racing is so competitive, the objective is just to get a winner on the board. Anything over and above that would be a bonus welcomed and cherished.
Emotionless will run for us in the G1 St James’s Palace Stakes, which I believe will prove the best race of the week. Rarely do you see three individual Guineas winners clashing at Royal Ascot, but you do here — Galileo Gold (England), Awtaad (Ireland) and The Gurkha (France).
And, whichever colt comes out on top can justifiably claim to be European champion. If we were talking boxing, this would be billed as a unifying world title contest. But Emotionless could upstage them all in one hit.
I am very happy with Emotionless. He is a different animal to what we saw eight weeks ago. The 2,000 Guineas was going to come too early for him, and I am pleased we decided to wait for Ascot.
At this time of the year, horses change by the day. To me, Emotionless looks stronger physically than he did early last month. He deserves to be in this line-up. Wind it back two months, and he was second favourite for the Guineas, and we know that in the only disappointing run he recorded, he was injured (suffered a bone chip in his knee).
We have decided to run Cymric as a pacemaker for Emotionless. We just want to ensure a nice, sensible gallop. It’s for ourselves, naturally, but also for the race itself. We can go into the race knowing there will be pace up front. We are trying to keep it simple.
I hope this is a St James’s Palace Stakes for Godolphin to savour. But we have plenty of runners during the week. If I had to nominate two others to follow – Jungle Cat in the G1 King’s Stand Stakes and Romantic View in the Albany Stakes.
Charlie Appleby is one of Godolphin’s two private trainers based in Newmarket. He trains from Moulton Paddocks.
One of the fastest men to ever play rugby union was born on this day, 33 years ago. Habana has earned a reputation as one of the most lethal finishers in history, the winger’s 15 tries at Rugby World Cups putting him level with New Zealand great Jomah Lomu.
A tally of 64 Test scores for South Africa has also seen him move level on the all-time list with rambunctious Australia legend David Campese, just five behind leader Daisuke Ohata of Japan.
Habana can still be seen tearing things up for French giants Toulon and the Springboks, with a new challenge coming this summer at the Olympics.
In typical style, the Johannesburg-native wasted no time introducing himself to international rugby as he scored with his first touch.
His finest year was 2007, where a World Cup win was followed by being named IRB Player of the Year.
Other sporting stars born on this day:
1957: Javed Miandad, Pakistan’s greatest batsman and a player in six Cricket World Cups, 59.
1979: Diego Milito, lethal former Argentina striker who won the Champions League with Internazionale, 37.
1980: Larry Foote, former NFL linebacker who earned two Super Bowl rings with Pittsburgh Steelers, 36.
1992: Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool and Brazil playmaker who is nicknamed Little Magician, 24.
‘Athers’ would go on to lead England in a record 54 Test matches before retirement saw him become an erudite voice in The Times newspaper and prominent commentator for Sky Sports.
The stubborn batsman ended up with 151 in the rain affected draw at Trent Bridge against New Zealand, which came from a typically-gutsy 382 balls.
At the age of 22, he was at the time England’s youngest century-maker since David Gower 12 years earlier. Alastair Cook would go on to beat the mark.
Other memorable events in history today:
1880: John Lee Richmond pitches first major league perfect game as Worcester beat Cleveland 1-0.
1930: Max Schmeling becomes first boxer to win heavyweight title on a foul due to Jack Sharkey’s low blow.
1965: Morio Shigematsu runs world record marathon of 2:12:00.
1997: Leeds United sign little-known striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who would score 42 goals in 84 games.