How many Group One winners has Dane O’Neill ridden?

Born in Dublin, Ireland on August 1, 1975, Dane O’Neill graduated from the field of pony racing and, at the age of 17, moved to Britain, where he became apprenticed to Wiltshire trainer Richard Hannon Snr.. He rode his first winner, Port Sunlight, trained by Hannon Snr., in an apprentices’ handicap at Sandown on July 15, 1993, but did not reach double figures for a season until 1995, when he rode 33 winners. The following season, O’Neill rode a total of 80 winners, including Arethusa I in the Listed Sirenia Stakes at Kempton, and became Champion Apprentice.

O’Neill rode his first Group race winner, Lots Of Magic, in the Group Three Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 16, 1999 and his second, Bold Edge, in the Group Two Cork and Orrery Stakes – subsequently upgraded to Group One status and known, nowadays, as the Diamond Jubilee Stakes – the very next day; both horses were trained by Richard Hannon Snr.. In fact, the following August, Bold Edge provided O’Neill with his first Group One winner when making all to win the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville.

In 2002, following the retirement of Chris Rutter, O’Neill was recruited as stable jockey to Oxfordshire trainer Henry Candy. He continued to enjoy plenty of success, but would not ride his second Group One winner until 2015, by which time he had been appointed second jockey to Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, having replaced Tadhg O’Shea in October, 2012. The victory came courtesy of Muhaarar, trained by Charles Hills, who was reverting to sprinting following an unplaced effort in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains at Longchamp, but stromed clear to win the newly introduced Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

Has jockey James Doyle ever won a British Classic?

Cambridge-born James Doyle is the son of former trainer Jacqueline Doyle and the younger brother of Sophie Doyle, now a successful jockey in the United States. He rode his first winner, Farnborough, trained by Richard Price, in a lowly Class 6 apprentices’ handicap on the then Polytrack surface at Wolverhampton in June, 2005. Nowadays, Doyle is best known as former stable jockey to Wilthshire trainer Roger Charlton, whom he joined in 2012, and retained jockey for Godolphin, whom he joined in 2015.

Doyle recorded his first British Group One victory on Al Kazeem, trained by Charlton, in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, 2013 and his second, on the same horse, in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park less than three weeks later. He has since won numerous Group One winners on British soil, including the Prince of Wales’s Stakes twice more, on Poet’s Word in 2018 and Lord North in 2020, the St.James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot twice, on Kingman in 2014 and Barney Roy in 2017, and the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, again on Kingman in 2014.

For all his success at the highest level, Doyle has yet to win a British Classic, although he has won two on the opposite side of the Irish Sea. The first of them came courtesy of Cartier Horse of the Year, Kingman, in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh in 2014 and the second courtesy of Sea of Class, trained by William Haggas, at the same venue in 2018.

When was the Commonwealth Cup inaugurated?

The Commonwealth Cup was inaugurated in 2015, when it became the eighth Group One race to be contested at Royal Ascot. Run over a distance of 6 furlongs, the Commonwealth Cup is restricted to three-year-olds, including geldings, making it the only race of its kind to be run anywhere in Europe. Indeed, at the time of its inauguration, the conditions of the other Group One sprint run at Royal Ascot, the Diamond Jubilee Stakes – established, as the All-Aged Stakes, in 1868 – were changed to exclude three-year-olds.

The Commonwealth Cup was included in the Royal Ascot programme at the expense of the Buckingham Palace Stakes, a valuable 7-furlong handicap restricted to three-year-olds, which was first run in 2002; at that point, the Saturday meeting, formerly known as ‘Ascot Heath’, was officially incorporated into the Royal Meeting, by way of celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Thus, the Buckingham Palace Stakes was not run between 2015 and 2019, much to the displeasure of some experts, but was reinstated, possibly as a one-off, as one of six additional races added to the Royal Ascot programme in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Who was Sir Henry Cecil?

The late Sir Henry Cecil, who died of cancer on June 11, 2013, at the age of 70, is best known as the trainer of Frankel, the highest rated horse in the history of Timeform and World Thoughbred Rankings, who retired, unbeaten in 14 races, in October, 2012. However, while Cecil, who was kinghted for services to horse racing in 2011, may have described Frankel as ‘the best horse I’ve ever seen’, he was arguably one of the greatest trainers in history.

Unfortunately his career was overshadowed by controversy but, in his heyday, between the late Seventies and early Nineties, Cecil was Champion Trainer ten times. Overall, he saddled 25 British Classic winners and was particularly adept with fillies, winning the Oaks eight times, including with Fillies’ Triple Crown heroine Oh So Sharp in 1985, and the 1,000 Guineas six times. He also won the Derby four times, including with British Horse of the Year, Reference Point, in 1987, the St. Leger four times and the 2,000 Guineas three times. Until June, 2018, when Poet’s Word, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, won the St. James’s Palace Stakes, Cecil also held the record for the most winners at Royal Ascot, having saddled 75 in his long, illustrious career.

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