When Choisir ventured into the unknown that was the Royal Ascot Carnival in 2003, he instigated a movement that would see other Australian horses not only regularly race on the hallowed turf during the five-day UK showpiece but also enjoy an incredible amount of success. 

With the 2024 Carnival taking place this week, we’ve taken a trip down memory lane and reminisced about some of the finest Royal Ascot performances by our Australian superstars. 

2003 – Choisir 

When recalling memorable Royal Ascot moments, naturally the first that comes to mind is Choisir. The Newcastle three-year-old made history in 2003 when he became the first Australian horse to compete at the famed Carnival. 

Paul Perry’s colt led all the way to win the King’s Stand Stakes in impressive fashion before backing up four days later in the Golden Jubilee Stakes where he demonstrated his Aussie toughness to win again.  

In 2019, Blue Point became the first horse since Choisir to claim the Sprints Double proving what an impressive feat it was. Choisir’s winning double would start a yearly trend of Australian horses making the pilgrimage to Royal Ascot.  

2006 – Takeover Target 

Purchased for just $1,375, not racing until he was four years old due to injuries and then earning more than $6 million in prize money, the story of Takeover Target is the stuff of folklore.  

After winning the 2006 Lightning Handicap and then the Newmarket Handicap up the Flemington straight, Queanbeyan taxi driver and part-time trainer Joe Janiak took up an invitation to compete during the Royal Ascot Carnival. 

Despite coming under siege late in the 2006 King’s Stand Stakes, the gelding produced plenty to land the prize. He would back up later that week in the Golden Jubilee Stakes where he finished third. 

Takeover Target returned to the Carnival two more times in 2007 (fourth in the King’s Stand Stakes and second in the Golden Jubilee Stakes) and 2008 (second in the King’s Stand Stakes and fourth in the Golden Jubilee Stakes). 

2007 – Miss Andretti  

The 2007 edition of the King’s Stand Stakes was dominated by Australian horses with Takeover Target, Magnus, Miss Andretti and Bentley Biscuit all taking part. 

However, there was none more dominant than the Lee Freedman-trained Miss Andretti. The six-year-old mare produced her customary turn of foot to pull away from her rivals with a furlong to go and win by 1.75 lengths and smash the course record in the process. 

Takeover Target would finish second and Magnus claimed fourth.  

Unfortunately, a wet track in the 2007 Golden Jubilee Stakes later in the week was not to Miss Andretti’s liking and she finished down the track. 

2008 – Haradasun 

Haradasun was a classy galloper from the moment he stepped on a racetrack, winning his debut race at Swan Hill by a massive 10 lengths. He would go on to win races such as the George Ryder Stakes and Doncaster Handicap as a three-year-old.  

After a succession of near misses during his four-year-old season, he was sent to Aiden O’Brien in Ireland after Coolmore Stud bought a half-share in the entire. The change of scenery worked wonders. 

A slow pace didn’t suit him first-up over a mile, but he bounced back in a big way in the 2008 Queen Anne Stakes. Jockey Johnny Murtagh followed Haradasun’s stablemate and pacemaker, Honoured Guest who came off the fence two furlongs to go and allowed the Australian to charge through and win in a head bobbing finish.  

In doing so, Haradasun was able to do something his half-brother Elvstroem couldn’t do and that was win at Royal Ascot. 

2009 – Scenic Blast 

An Australian horse was unable to win the 2008 King’s Stand Stakes, but normal transmission was restored in 2009 with Scenic Blast claiming the time-honoured race. 

The West Australian sprinter arrived in England in sparkling form having won the coveted Lightning Stakes/Newmarket Handicap double. Local bookmakers installed him as favourite for the 2009 King’s Stand Stakes and he didn’t let his supporters down.  

The baldy faced Scenic Blast settled just off the speed before coming down the extreme outside with a scintillating turn of foot to gap his rivals. The final margin was 1.75 lengths, but it was a much more devastating win than that suggested.  

2010 – Starspangledbanner 

Choisir’s connection to the Royal Ascot Carnival would be further enhanced in 2010 when his son, Starspangledbanner won the Golden Jubilee Stakes. 

Starspangledbanner was prepared in Australia by Leon Corstens where he won the Caulfield Guineas and Oakleigh Plate before being transferred to Aiden O’Brien’s Irish stable. 

Following an inauspicious first race for O’Brien at York, he proved his class by charging home along the stand side rail to win by 1.8 lengths. Starspangledbanner would win the July Cup at his next start before retiring to Coolmore Stud in Australia. 

2012 – Black Caviar  

The win in the 2012 Diamond Jubilee Stakes by arguably the world’s greatest ever sprinter Black Caviar epitomises courage and toughness. 

Ladbrokes own Peter Moody put the reputation of his undefeated queen on the line when after a long preparation she lined up at Royal Ascot. As a $1.16 favourite, it nearly all came undone when she scraped in by the barest of margins. Jockey Luke Nolen was lambasted for not riding her out, however the reality is his ‘brain fade’ probably didn’t make much difference as she was badly injured. Scans post-race would show that Black Caviar managed to win despite tearing two muscles in her back and suffering severe bruising to her hind quarters. 

While Royal Ascot didn’t see the best of Black Caviar, her champion qualities came to the fore to provide one of the greatest Australian sporting moments we’ve witnessed.

2012 – So You Think 

In the same year that Black Caviar won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, So You Think won the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. 

The Bart Cummings-trained son of High Chaparral was a star of the Australian turf, winning the two Cox Plates and numerous other Group 1 titles before being sold to Coolmore Stud and transferred to Aiden O’Brien in Ireland.   

After being narrowly beaten in the 2011 edition of the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and O’Brien admitting he’d made a hash of training the superstar, he returned in 2012 for his swansong. We once again saw the best of So You Think as he put his rivals including Queen Elizabeth II’s horse Carlton House to the sword to comfortably win by 2.3 lengths. 

So You Think was a true international superstar of the track. 

2018 – Merchant Navy 

Australian horses had little luck following Black Caviar’s win until Merchant Navy headed to the Royal Ascot Carnival in 2018. 

The son of Fastnet Rock put his name on the map when he won the 2017 Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington. He was later sold to Coolmore who sent him to Aiden O’Brien for a tilt at the 2018 Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Despite being weighted as a four-year-old, the three-year-old colt produced plenty in the concluding stages to win by a nose.    

He would return to Australia following the win with a record of seven wins from 10 starts where he would take up stud duties at Coolmore Stud. 

2022 – Nature Strip 

Nature Strip sent a reminder to the world that Australia produces the best sprinters when he conquered Royal Ascot in 2022. 

The Chris Waller-trained son of Nicconi had taken all before him in his home country. His resume included being a 3x TJ Smith Stakes winner plus wins in The Everest, the Black Caviar Lightning and The Galaxy to name just some of his Group 1 titles. Now it was time to take on the world’s best in the King’s Stand Stakes. 

Nature Strip not only took them on, but he decimated them. James McDonald took his mount to the front around the halfway mark of the 1000m contest before ‘The Strip’ put his rivals away within the blink of an eye and dashed clear for a comprehensive 4.5 length win. 

While as Australians we’ll lay claim to the wins of So You Think and Merchant Navy, Nature Strip’s King’s Stand Stakes victory was the first Australian-trained winner at Royal Ascot since Black Caviar in 2012. 

Winning so emphatically at Royal Ascot firmly stamped Nature Strip as one of Australia’s greatest ever sprinters. 

2024 – Asfoora 

In Ballarat trainer Henry Dwyer’s own words, he “copped a bit of stick” for taking his mare Asfoora to Royal Ascot to contest the 2024 King Charles III Stakes. However, it was Dwyer who had the last laugh with his audacious plan coming to fruition in a big way! 

The daughter of Flying Artie warmed up for the Group 1 feature with a fourth placing in the Temples Stakes at Haydock. A credible run, but the firmer track in the King Charles III Stakes was more to her liking.  

Asfoora jumped well from the inside gate to share the lead on the stand side before heading to the middle of the track and joining race favourite Big Evs with a furlong to go. The Aussie mare exploded late to put pay to the opposition and claim her first Group 1 race by a length. 

The five-year-old mare is the sixth Australian-trained horse to win the King Charles III Stakes, formerly known as the King’s Stand Stakes.  

Honourable Mentions 

They may not have won at Royal Ascot, but several Australian horses deserve special mention for running brave races at the iconic Carnival.  

  • Elvstroem (2005 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes –3rd
  • Falkirk (2006 King’s Stand Stakes – 4th
  • Magnus (2007 King’s Stand Stakes – 2nd
  •  Nicconi (2010 King’s Stand Stakes – 4th
  • Star Witness (2011 King’s Stand Stakes – 2nd, 2011 Golden Jubilee Stakes – 3rd
  • Brazen Beau (2015 Golden Jubilee Stakes – 2nd
  • Artorius (2022 Platinum Jubilee Stakes –3rd, 2023 QEII Jubilee Stakes – 4th)