Ad Oisin Murphy riding Asfoora celebrates winning the King Charles III Stakes during Royal Ascot 2024 at Ascot Racecourse on June 18, 2024 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Asfoora sweeps Royal Ascot sprint prize

19 June 2024 Written by Racing & Sports

Henry Dwyer’s ambitious Royal Ascot task pays off with Asfoora taking out the King Charles III Stakes.

A change of name but a familiar scene as Asfoora became the sixth Australian-trained sprinter to take out the feature sprint on the opening day of Royal Ascot.

Formerly run as the King's Stand Stakes, the newly named Group 1 King Charles III Stakes (1000m) held no fears for Ballarat-based Henry Dwyer who set the five-year-old mare the task of following the likes Choisir (2003), Takover Target (2006) and Nature Strip (2022) among the five to have already claimed the race for Australia.

Asfoora ($7), with Oisin Murphy in the saddle, veered towards the centre of the course from her near grandstand side rail barrier to beat Regional ($7) with $3.30 favourite and 2023 Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Big Evs in third.

"I am really struggling for words, funnily enough," Dwyer said.

"We have come a long way from Ballarat, but it's been an amazing experience from start to finish. We've been so well looked after and we're so grateful for that."

Asfoora had won twice at group two level in Melbourne while also placed in Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) behind Uncommon James, and ran second in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) behind Imperatriz last September.

"We got a bit of stick from home for bringing her over because she wasn't seen as one of our better sprinters, but we were just so confident that she was really textbook wheelhouse five furlongs and she's proven that today," he added.

"We just didn't have the races for her in Australia and she's proved she's up to it and I'm thrilled for everyone involved.

"We needed a lead-up run at Haydock, so she came over early, but just with the changing of seasons we wanted to be here before it was too cold in Australia and too warm over here.

"We came over in the nice interchange period, and we needn't have worried because she settled in brilliantly, and the proof was in the pudding today."

It was a twelfth Royal Ascot winner for Murphy who replaced Mitch Aitken for this group one ride.

"I wasn't focusing on Big Evs, I was focusing on Regional, who gave me a perfect tow to halfway," Murphy said.

"She lugged a little bit right under pressure, looking for company, but how good was she at the line."