Death of superstar sprinter and breed-shaping sire Royal Applause aged 29

Dual Group 1 winner, and sire of Acclamation, was a favourite of the Queen

Royal Applause in his racecourse pomp
Royal Applause in his racecourse pompCredit: Phil Smith

There was sad news on the stroke of Christmas with the death of superb sprinter and breed-shaping sire Royal Applause at 29.

A firm favourite of the late Queen, who is said to have asked to see him every time she visited the Royal Studs, Royal Applause was reported to have been an extremely healthy horse down the years, one who hardly ever saw a vet.

He was a homebred of Maktoum Al Maktoum and carried his famous and much-loved silks of royal blue, white chevron, blue cap with distinction.

He was the eighth foal out of the winning sprinter and fine broodmare Flying Melody, who produced the pocket rocket Lyric Fantasy to Tate Gallery and Dewhurst Stakes winner In Command to Sadler’s Wells, among other winners.

Royal Applause was a son of Queen Anne Stakes winner Waajib, from Try My Best's branch of the Northern Dancer male dynasty, and was a stunning two-year-old, winning all four starts for the Barry Hills yard under Walter Swinburn.

A Newbury maiden strike was followed by victory in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, and then the Gimcrack at York. A perfect campaign was capped with an impressive success in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes. It was Alhaarth, however, who edged it when it came to champion European two-year-olds honours

Royal Applause began his three-year-old season in the 1996 2,000 Guineas, but on what was to be his one and only crack at a mile he did not have the stamina to go with the field and finished unplaced behind Mark Of Esteem. Indeed, his only win of his Classic year came in a Doncaster conditions stakes under Kieren Fallon.

Royal Applause returned to his best at four, winning his first three starts, the Cammidge Trophy, Duke of York Stakes and Cork and Orrery Stakes (now Platinum Jubilee), before being runner-up to Compton Place in the July Cup.

He was to collect his Group 1 at four, however, on his next outing when he beat Danetime under by now regular rider Michael Hills in the Haydock Sprint Cup.

He was subsequently third in the Abbaye on a rare five-furlong foray, and then fair play to connections for having a go at the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Hollywood Park, though it was not to be as Royal Applause trailed home last.

Royal Applause took up stallion duties the following year, 1998, replacing the retiring Derby winner Shirley Heights on the roster, and was to prove a splendid servant to the Royal Studs, being retired after the 2014 season - his last foals were born in 2017.

He never covered huge books - the 110 foals of 2006 being his biggest crop - and to date has just one top-level winner, Ticker Tape, who, rather appropriately, took the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland in 2004.

However, he has sired plenty of quality horses, such as the Molecomb winners Finjaan (who also won the Lennox Stakes) and Majestic Missile, Horris Hill scorer Peak To Creek and Premio Presidente della Repubblica winner Royal Julius.

His top earner has been Grade 2 winner Battle Of Hastings, who started out with Michael Bell, while son Deeds Not Words won 17 times.

Royal Applause's son Acclamation has become an influential sire of sires
Royal Applause's son Acclamation has become an influential sire of siresCredit: Peter Mooney

More importantly, he has had a strong influence on the breed - reportedly much to the Queen’s pleasure - most notably through his Diadem winner turned important sire Acclamation.

His rising star son Romantic Warrior was a Group 1 winner only this month in the Hong Kong Cup, and the Rathbarry Stud stalwart is also the sire of Expert Eye, Aclaim, Dark Angel, Mehmas, Equiano and Harbour Watch, among others, not to mention a record-breaking mare in Marsha.

Royal Applause is also the damsire of Blue Point, a brilliant sprinter himself and now Kildangan Stud sire, along with Adaay, Cappella Sansevero and Forest Of Dean.

Giga Kick, winner of The Everest at Randwick in October, is Royal Applause's highest earner in this role, that hugely valuable sprint prize boosting his haul to not far off £4 million.

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Racing Post Bloodstock Staff
Published on 24 December 2022Last updated 10:34, 26 December 2022