By Tony Elves
A week may be a long time in politics, but twelve months is an eternity for a winner-hungry jockey and William Buick will certainly be chomping at the bit when he bids to improve and already impressive Royal Ascot portfolio next week.
Buick had to sit on the sidelines in 2019 as he recovered from post head injury syndrome and watch his old faithful Blue Point notch up a remarkable King’s Stand Stakes/Golden Jubilee Stakes double under his great friend James Doyle but there was delight for him being part of the Godolphin team even though he had to watch from the stands.
Watch every race of Royal Ascot 2020 live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) from Tuesday 16th June to Saturday 20th June.
William said: “It feels very different when your used to being a jockey and riding at the meeting and all of sudden I was going there as a supporter with no real job, but there was nothing I could do about it at the time and at least it was nice to see the horses taking part and having such a great week.”
“You have the Classics, the Derby and then Royal Ascot and this a week you look forward too every year and you prepare yourself a long time in advance and hope to make sure you have a good book of rides.”
Buick who currently stands on 23 winners for the meeting had scored at least one success in the previous eight years and his treble with Blue Point (King’s Stand Stakes), Aljazzi (Duke of Cambridge Stakes) and Old Persian (King Edward VII) in 2018 once again underlined his great prowess over the Royal slopes.
“Royal Ascot is the greatest race meeting in the World and certainly the most prestigious. It brings everything to the table – quality racing atmosphere and the five days at Ascot just covers everything.
“I never used to go to Royal Ascot as I was always in school in Norway when I was younger, and I don’t think I went there until I rode. I had my first couple of rides there and I remember it was daunting and on horses that had very little chance on the handicap, but it just gave me a taste of what it was like.”
Buick didn’t have to wait long in his fledgling career to notch up his first success at the Royal meeting when delivering a power packed finish to bring home the four-year-old filly Dark Missile a neck in front of Intrepid Jack in the 2007 Wokingham Handicap when he was still a 5lb claimer.
He said: “I remember Dark Missile very well as she was a filly, I had ridden quite a lot at home and so I knew her quite well. Beforehand, we thought it was a very good opportunity for me to ride a winner at the meeting and it worked out perfectly as she was always finding enough to hold the runner-up after leading two furlongs out. She was a very good filly and it was a dream come to true to ride a winner there.”
William had to wait another four years to add to his score, but it was the shape things to come as he guided Nathaniel to victory in the King Edward VII Stakes and supplement that win on board Beachfire in the Wolferton Handicap.
Ryan Moore was crowned Champion jockey at the meeting in 2012 but it was on countback of placed horses that he deprived Buick of that title as he also notched up five successes with Fallen For You bringing William a Group 1 success in the Coronation Stakes and his other four winners also coming courtesy of John Gosden as Joviality took the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes, Newfangled the Albany Stakes, Gatewood the Wolferton Handicap and Camborne the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap.
“That was a memorable year with some real nice winners amongst them. Every Ascot winner is obviously very important, and I particularly remember Fallen For You that year as she came from a long way back and won impressively.”
If any evidence was necessary to prove that Buick was the man for the big occasion it was unearthed in what could only be considered a stellar field for the 2014 Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
His mount, The Fugue was an 11-2 shot for the ten furlong contest and was engaged in battle with the remarkable filly Treve who went off at 8-13, Magician who had beaten her a neck in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita in November 2013 and Mukhadram who had the John Gosden-trained mare behind when a neck runner-up to Al Kazeem in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes in 2014.
However, on this occasion it was Buick who held the aces as The Fugue ran the race of her life to score by a length and three quarters from Magician with Treve a length back in third and Mukhadram another length and a half a way in fourth.
“When The Fugue won the Prince of Wales’s it was a great race – she was always a very good filly but on that day she was an exceptional filly and it was a fantastic performance that left you tingling.”
“That was wonderful but to be honest every Royal Ascot winner is so important - Blue Point in the King’s Stand and Old Persian in the King Edward VII two years ago readily spring to mind – but they all stand out and you simply can’t leave any of them out as they are so hard to come by in races that are fiercely competitive.”
Going home winnerless at the end of the week is clearly something William is not accustomed too but he is aware of the task asked of him and his weighing room colleagues.
He said: “It’s a tough place to win at – everyone’s bringing their best horses to the meeting and have aimed their horses for Ascot for months if not a year in advance. The best jockeys are all there and all the races are very hard to win. It’s always important to get a winner early in the week as it just sets you off on the right foot and you just want to be getting winners there.”
Buick will be ticking away the hours for the commencement of the meeting on Tuesday even though it will be held behind closed doors and is awaiting plans to be finalised for what he hopes will be a very busy week.
He said: “We will have to wait and see closer to the time, but I think we will be represented in all if not most of the races in some shape or form. I will be riding PINATUBO in whatever race he runs at Ascot and he is obviously a horse I am looking forward to riding again – he ran very well in the Guineas.”