Desert Hero to Lead Royal Team at Ascot

With a Royal procession preceding racing each day and members of the Royal family in the stands, Royal Ascot boasts a level of pageantry unparalleled in the sporting world. In such an atmosphere, few things ignite the occasion quite like a Royal winner.

An attendee at the meeting for seven decades, Queen Elizabeth II enjoyed her fair share of success as an owner – picking up 24 Royal Ascot victories, beginning with Choir Boy in the 1953 Royal Hunt Cup and ending with Tactical in the 2020 Windsor Castle Stakes.

Following the loss of The Queen in September 2022, King Charles III and Queen Camilla have taken up the racing baton, becoming patrons of the Jockey Club and, of course, attending the Royal Meeting.

HM The King & HM The Queen could scarcely have made a better start to life as owners at Britain’s biggest flat fixture, with Desert Hero getting up close home to land a thrilling edition of the King George V Stakes in 2023. Could there be further success to come in 2024? Here, we pick out the three runners most likely to carry those famous purple, scarlet, and gold silks to victory at this year’s fixture.

Desert Hero – Hardwicke Stakes

  • Trainer – William Haggas
  • Sire – Sea The Stars

Leading the charge is the star of the 2023 show Desert Hero. Backing up that Royal Ascot success with another at Glorious Goodwood, he rounded out 2023 with a gallant third in the St Leger Stakes.

Now sitting on a rating of 113, Desert Hero is a little too high for handicaps this year but performed with credit when going down by just a head in the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes on his seasonal return. Things didn’t go to plan in the Aston Park Stakes at Newbury, but he is in expert hands and may bounce back as he returns to the scene of his finest hour.

Treasure – Ribblesdale Stakes

  • Trainer – Ralph Beckett
  • Sire – Mastercraftsman

With three Ribblesdale Stakes victories, Queen Elizabeth II enjoyed considerable success in the Day 3 contest for the three-year-old fillies. Bidding to add to that Royal record in 2024 is this promising sort from the Ralph Beckett operation. An impressive winner on debut at Newcastle, she failed to hit the heights in The Oaks last time out but wouldn’t be the first filly to bounce back following a subpar effort around the twists and undulations of Epsom.

High Order – King Edward VII Stakes

  • Trainer – John & Thady Gosden
  • Sire – Frankel

Sired by the greatest of them all and out of a Listed-winning Dubawi mare, High Order certainly looks the part on paper. However, barring a 13-length romp at Southwell, he has yet to deliver on that potential at the track. A failure to stay 1m6f was a legitimate excuse for his flop at Doncaster last time, and he may be seen in a better light dropping back to 1m4f for this assignment.