royal ascot trials Naas Handicap

2023 Royal Ascot: Fort Vega victorious in Naas Handicap Trial

With Royal Ascot on the horizon, excitement is building. All eyes were on the Naas Handicap Trial, which took place on Sunday.

With 2023 Royal Ascot set to get underway at the iconic Ascot Racecourse in a matter of weeks, preparation is ramping up ahead of the five days of world class racing. The action gets underway on Tuesday 20th June before coming to a close on Saturday 24th June 2023.

The latest trial to take place ahead of Royal Ascot is the Naas Handicap, which took place on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Naas Racecourse.

It was Broadhurst who was the favourite to win, and for good reason. Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Broadhurst came 2nd in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden at Navan in May 2022 before an admittedly below par 9th place finish in the Goffs London Sale Maiden at Curragh back in March 2023.

Form was rediscovered in its most recent race ahead of the Naas Handicap. Victory was secured in the Maiden on 11th April. Jockey Ryan Moore was able to beat competition from the likes of Emorcee, Change Sings and Autoline who all had to settle for the remaining three spots in the top four.

Moore is one of the most experienced and successful jockeys around, and he has experienced a number of wins at Ascot in recent years. He has two victories in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 2009 (Conduit) and 2016 (Highland Reel).

His Ascot success does not end there. Moore also has wins to his name in several other races at Royal Ascot over the years, including the Coronation Cup (Ask – 2009, St Nicholas Abbey – 2011 & Highland Reel – 2017) and the coveted Gold Cup on 3 occasions (Estimate – 2013, Order of St George – 2016 & Kyprios – 2022).

Unfortunately for Moore, he ultimately had to settle for 2nd place in the Naas Handicap trial race, with Fort Vega, ridden by Robbie Colgan, finishing in first place.

It was certainly not a comfortable win for Colgan and Fort Vega. Broadhurst took an initial lead from the start of the race with Fort Vega very close behind. This remained the case for much of the race with the top two battling it out for the lead throughout the race in what was an enthralling battle.

Eventually, the lead changed hands going in the final moments of the race and Fort Vega managed to take the win, but it was by a very narrow margin. A mere nose separated Fort Vega from Broadhurst, who had to settle for second place.

Ultimately it was not surprising to see Fort Vega performing well in the Naas Handicap trial race with recent form taken into account.

It was a 3rd place finish in the Irish Stallion Farms Maiden in April 2023, with Empty Metaphor and Toughen Up finishing in first and second place respectively. Fort Vega went on to win the Golf At Gowran Park Maiden on 3rd May 2023 ahead of the Naas Handicap Trial.

Royal Ascot is rapidly approaching with anticipation and excitement only set to increase the closer we get to the opening day on Tuesday 20th June 2023.

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