Nijinksy

King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes 1970
Coral

Ascot is without doubt the showcase of British horse racing this right handed flat and national hunt course is home to some of horse racings finest moments, but none more so than Nijinksy's victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth diamond Stakes on 25 July 1970.

The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth diamond Stakes is considered one of the most important test for 3yo and 4yo horses in Europe, this race which was first run in 1951 as the Festival of Britain Stakes it's purpose to test 3 year olds against their elders for the first time at group one level.

Nijinksy was a horse who had it all, a superb pedigree a son of Northern Dancer out of Flaming Page. Trained in Ireland by Vincent O'Brien under whom he was unbeaten as a two year old.

He matured into a magnificent looking 3 year old athletic tall and that cockiness about him that class brings. He won the Gladness stakes at the Curragh, from there he went to Newmarket and captured the 2000 guineas with ease, moved on to Epsom for the Derby and won that by two and a half lengths, moved back to Ireland and took the Irish Derby. All this was building him up for the greatest test the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes.

Nijinksy was the only 3 year old that year to enter this race the field was small but of top quality. Blakeny had won the Derby the year before while Hogarth had won the Italian Derby Karabas had won the Washington International in 1969 Crepellana had won the Prix de Diane and Caliban the Coronation Cup, without doubt this was the strongest field Nijinksy had faced so far. he started the race at 85-40 on to win it. The Italian Hogarth led for the first furlong then Caliban took the lead followed by Hogarth, Karabas, Blakeney and Nijinksy with Crepellana at the back of the field. This was how they ran down the hill into Swinley Bottom and made the long turn before beginning the climb to the straight.

As they turned for home Karabas came up to challenge Caliban with Hogarth desparately trying to hold his place. Meanwhile Geoff Lewis on Blakeney was staying on the inside, while Lester Piggott on Nijinksy was biding his time. At 2 Furlongs from home Caliban started to falter and Karabas took a short lead from Hogarth with Blakeney making a move on the rail.

Piggott Master Craftsman

Blakeney nearly caught them

Piggott the master craftsman took Nijinksy into the middle of the course and gave him his head, the response was immediate Nijinksy shot forward as though out of a gun his acceleration was unbelievable, so far ahead did they shoot that Piggott had time to look around and wonder if his rivals had stopped.

He eased back on his mount and Blakeney nearly caught them before Piggott gave Nijinksy a further push to put the result beyond doubt and they won by two lengths.

In his next race he became the first horse to win the triple crown in 35 years, unfortunately after this race he developed an attack of ringworm which severly weakened him and he hadn't recovered properly before his next race at Longchamps the Prix de la Arc de Triomphe where he was beaten by a short head by Sassafras.