Royal Ascot 2017: Highland Reel was my Star of Stars

June 28, 2017 12:53pm
Royal Ascot 2017: Highland Reel was my Star of Stars
Photo: Ascot Racecourse

My first experience at Ascot Racecourse, and Royal Ascot in particular, has been eye opening. It truly is unlike any other. A cross between Saratoga on steroids and opulent, stupendous grandeur -- the structure, the grounds, the course, the scene, and the town all grab you by the senses in the most pleasing of ways. People have fun at Royal Ascot.

And the horses, oh my, the horses. The stars come out to run over the beautiful, expansive turf of Ascot. Far too many to mention them all, huge performances over the last few days at the most celebrated race meet in the world include: Lady Aurelia, Barney Roy, Ribchester, Big Orange, Caravaggio, and Winter. As fantastic as they were, though, there was one horse and one performance that topped them all for me. Highland Reel was nothing less than magnificent.

Ireland, France, Chicago, Los Angeles, Australia, Hong Kong, Dubai, and of course, England, the five-year-old Irish-bred has done it all. No horse in recent memory has been as successful at traveling the world, as has Highland Reel. 

On Wednesday at Royal Ascot, he was at his determined best.

For Highland Reel, the victory marked his sixth worldwide in Group 1 competition. This Prince of Wales's Stakes was as good as any. The feature race on day two of Royal Ascot was loaded with talent top to bottom.

I had seen him win big races at both Arlington and Santa Anita before, and in fact, I had never seen him lose in person. Dripping with sweat in the parade ring, I wondered out loud if Highland Reel could do it again. There was, after all, other speed in the race, and there were so many good closers.

Tough as the lady who has worked at the local laundromat for a few years too long, Highland Reel grabbed the lead, and would not let go. Sprinting home from this star studded field of Group 1 winners, it was a performance that made even those who knew him best, gush just a bit.

No one wins more big races over here than his trainer, Aidan O'Brien and his rider, Ryan Moore. Racing's elite had this to say about the brave and talented winner ...

"He is an incredible horse. Pace, courage, tactical speed, he has everything," remarked a proud O'Brien."He has been racing at the top level for the last few years and he is just amazing. We always thought the world of him because he has always been a natural, brilliant athlete. He has danced every dance. He has an awful lot of tactical speed and that is a huge asset to have in a horse. I'm not sure we have ever had a horse with the constitution that he has."

"He deserved a big win here today," added Moore. "We're delighted with him and it's been a big effort from the team at home to get him back from Epsom and here today.  I'd say it was probably a career-best from him today."

I've only been there for three, but I would have to agree with the last sentiment from Moore. The Coolmore runner's length-and-a-quarter win Wednesday at Ascot was as good as it gets, from a horse that is very, very good.

Cheers from Ascot! 



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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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