The Commonwealth Cup is a new innovation at Royal Ascot, but one which has quickly caught the imagination of owners, trainers and breeders.
The race, over six furlongs, is a Group One contest for three year olds (including geldings) and is currently contested on the Friday of the Royal Meeting.
The race was introduced in 2015 and immediately produced a champion in Muhaarar.
The Charlie Hills trained colt had won Newbury’s Greenham Stakes but instead of having a tilt at the Newmarket Guineas, he was sent for the French equivalent, but was never a factor.
After that run, connections decided to target the Commonwealth Cup, where Muhaarar’s prodigious talent came to the fore and he beat a high class field that included the American Hootenanny, future July Cup winner Limato, the brilliantly-fast filly Tiggy Wiggy, Anthem Alexander, Adaay, Jungle Cat, Craven winner Kool Kompany and European Free Handicap winner Home Of The Brave.
Muhaarar went on to prove himself an outstanding sprinter, landing the July Cup and the Prix Maurice de Gheest in a brilliant campaign.
The quality continued in 2016, as the Dougie Costello-ridden Quiet Reflection, a prolific winner at two, when she had won the Cornwallis Stakes, ran out the winner.
The Karl Burke filly had won the Prix Sigy on her comeback, before impressing in the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock Park.
In the Commonwealth Cup, she came with a late run to deny Kachy.
She later went on to add the Group One 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock Park.
The 2017 renewal saw Coolmore make their first mark in the Commonwealth Cup with Caravaggio.
The colt had been a top juvenile, winning all four starts, including Royal Ascot’s Group Two Coventry Stakes in 2016.
He was a brilliant winner of the Group Three Lacken Stakes on his return before heading to the Commonwealth Cup.
In blisteringly hot conditions, the temperature rose further with the anticipation of an exciting clash between Caravaggio, Harry Angel, Blue Point and the American challenger Bound For Nowhere.
Harry Angel set the pace but Caravaggio was delivered in the final furlong by Ryan Moore, to get up and beat the two Godolphin runners. It was a first success in the contest for trainer Aidan O’Brien.
In the July Cup a few weeks later, Caravaggio finished fourth to old foe Harry Angel, with Limato running second.
The 2018 Commonwealth Cup saw another well-established name on the winning roster, as Sir Michael Stoute trained Eqtidaar to success.
Lightly-raced at two, Eqtidaar ran a promising race when behind Invincible Army, in Ascot’s Commonwealth Cup trial the Pavilion Stakes.
A disappointing run at Newbury followed, before taking part in a 22-runner Commonwealth Cup at the Royal Meeting.
Ridden by Jim Crowley, Eqtidaar faced stern opposition, including Sioux Nation, old foe Invincible Army, Equilateral and smart 2017 juveniles Unfortunately and Sands Of Mali.
Eqtidaar took up the running in the final furlong to defeat Sands Of Mali by half a length. It was a second win in the first four renewals, for owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.
The Commonwealth Cup has taken no time to establish itself as a contest of significance, both in the context of the year’s Champion Sprinter and the creation of future stallions. It is also a significant stepping stone to the July Cup, where the winner often takes on the older sprinters who made their mark in the King’s Stand Stakes and Diamond Jubilee Stakes at the Royal Meeting.
Commonwealth Cup Winners
2016 Quiet Reflection