(The Queen joins Seth Hancock in the Keeneland winner’s circle / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)
From the Keeneland Media Team:
Magnetic Charm (GB) might have an edge in Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Lane’s End (G1) for one simple reason: She is owned by Her Majesty, The Queen, who 35 years ago was at Keeneland for the first running of the race named in her honor.
The Queen is an astute Thoroughbred breeder and owner who has raced horses since the late 1940s. Her visit here in October 1984 during a private six-day trip to Central Kentucky is one of the most famous chapters in Keeneland history. She watched a mock Thoroughbred sale in the Sales Pavilion, met members of the jockey colony and presented the trophy after Cherry Valley Farm’s favored Sintra, a daughter of Drone ridden by Keith Allen for trainer Steve Penrod, won her namesake race.
Her trip also included visiting nearby farms to see prominent stallions.
The Queen and Prince Philip attended the 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1) as guests of Will and Sarah Farish of Lane’s End Farm.
The Queen has raced a few horses over the years at Keeneland but never has started a horse in her namesake race, which Lane’s End has sponsored since 2014. Her homebred New Assembly (IRE) won an allowance race during the 2001 Spring Meet. Her other Keeneland starters since then, according to Equibase, were homebred Forward Move (IRE), second in an allowance during the 2006 Fall Meet, and homebredMedley (GB), fourth in an allowance during the 2008 Fall Meet.
All three were trained by Christophe Clement.
Magnetic Charm, a daughter of Exceed And Excel (AUS) bred by Godolphin and trained by William Haggas, has won two of eight races. She began her career in England and was second by a neck in the Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot while carrying 133 pounds. On Sept. 14, the filly made her North American debut at Woodbine and ran second in the Canadian Presented by the Japan Racing Association (G2).
The Woodbine performance earned Magnetic Charm an invitation to the QEII, and she was vanned to Keeneland with stablemate Awesometank (GB), who was 10th in Woodbine’s Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1). Awesometank made her next start last Saturday in the First Lady Presented by UK HealthCare (G1).
Haggas’ assistant Harry Eustace was at Keeneland for the First Lady Presented by UK HealthCare, in which Awesometank was sixth.
On Sunday, Magnetic Charm and jockey Florent Geroux breezed 5 furlongs on the Keeneland turf in 1:02.40.
Eustace flew back to England earlier this week and will return for the QE II.
Magnetic Charm will break from post seven in the field of nine with Geroux aboard.
“She’s very straightforward and tries incredibly hard,” Eustace said about the filly. “She ran one of her best races in Canada. She’s trained well since at Keeneland. It’s a great place for horses to come to, and she’s really blossomed since she got there. Fingers crossed, and she can run well and give the Queen something to cheer about.”
Another international competitor entered in the QE II Presented by Lane’s End is Godolphin’s Castle Lady (IRE), who made her first appearance on Keeneland’s main track Wednesday morning, galloping once around under Luc Chasserio.
Unraced since finishing fifth in the Coronation (G1) at Royal Ascot in England in June, Castle Lady arrived at Keeneland Tuesday morning and trained on Keeneland’s all-weather training track.
Trainer Henri-Alex Pantall is scheduled to arrive in Lexington Friday night.