Aussie Challengers Headline Glittering International Cast for Royal Ascot Sprints
Scenic Blast (Daniel Morton, Australia), winner of the Coolmore Lightning Stakes at Flemington in January, the first leg of the 2009 Challenge, and Takeover Target (Joe Janiak, Australia), are on course to bid to continue Australia’s fine recent record in Royal Ascot’s Group One sprints.
Scenic Blast’s main targets in the UK are the King’s Stand Stakes and the Darley July Cup (leg four of the Global Sprint Challenge), possibly via the Golden Jubilee Stakes. The five-year-old has carried all before him in Melbourne’s showpiece events this year, including latterly a last gasp victory over Oakleigh Plate winner Swiss Ace under top weight in the Group One Newmarket Handicap (“the sprinters’ Melbourne Cup”).
Meanwhile, Takeover Target’s powder had been kept dry until Saturday’s Group One T.J. Smith Stakes in Sydney, when he made all and slammed a top class field including last year’s champion Australian sprinter, Apache Cat. Joe Janiak immediately nominated the Golden Jubilee Stakes as the ten-year-old’s main 2009 target, with the July Cup also on the agenda.
Takeover Target, who will be running at his fourth Royal Ascot, will bid for a second KrisFlyer Sprint in Singapore in May en route, where he could be joined by fellow Royal Ascot aspirant Inspiration (John Moore, Hong Kong). Inspiration won the final leg of last year’s Challenge, the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint, and proved that surprise win no fluke in February when winning the Group One Centenary Sprint Cup back at Sha Tin.
Inspiration is entered in the Golden Jubilee Stakes and there could be further Hong Kong representation this year with the up-and-coming Tuscan Spirit (John Size) entered for both sprints at Royal Ascot.
Cannonball (Wesley Ward, USA), runner-up in the Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland, one of America’s top turf sprints, is entered for both Royal Ascot sprints and is a possible to carry the stars and stripes for the first time at Royal Ascot since Mighty Beau was fifth in the 2005 King’s Stand Stakes. He could be accompanied by stablemate Regardlessofoutcome, one of the fastest horses from the stalls in the country, who is entered in the King’s Stand.
South Africa’s number one trainer, Mike De Kock, abandoned plans for J J The Jet Plane to contest the Dubai Golden Shaheen on dirt after one unsuccessful venture on the surface, and has since been targeting the King’s Stand Stakes and Golden Jubilee Stakes for his multiple Group One-winning five-year-old.
There could be further representation for South Africa with Mythical Flight (Sean Tarry), seventh behind Inspiration in last year’s Hong Kong Sprint, entered for both events at Royal Ascot.
The European defence at Royal Ascot is likely to be headed by Marchand D’Or (Freddie Head, France), winner of the 2008 Darley July Cup.
The six-year-old confirmed himself Europe’s Champion Sprinter in 2008 with victory in the Prix De L’Abbaye at Longchamp. However, whether he would have beaten Overdose (S Ribarszki, Hungary) the “winner” of the void running of the race and unable to contest the re-run, was one of the hottest topics of the 2008 flat season. That question could well be answered at Royal Ascot.
Amongst those entered for both races for the United Kingdom are last year’s King’s Stand Stakes winner (then trained in Spain), Equiano (Barry Hills), and last year’s Golden Jubilee Stakes winner, Kingsgate Native (Sir Michael Stoute).
“It is extremely encouraging to have attracted entries from all over the world for the King’s Stand Stakes and Golden Jubilee Stakes,” said Ascot’s Head of Communications and International Racing, Nick Smith.
“In Scenic Blast we have Australia’s new kid on the block and a first in that he is trained in Western Australia – his win in the Newmarket under top weight was breathtaking as he came from miles back to nail a last time out Group One winner.
“What more can you say about Takeover Target? The horse is a living legend and if anything he is getting better and better. The Golden Jubilee will be the seventh Royal Ascot race he has contested in four visits and so far he has never been out of the first four.
“The entries from Hong Kong, South Africa and the USA could really add spice to an already international mix, which stretches all over Europe. For a lot of people the highlight of the whole meeting, along with Yeats’s bid for a Gold Cup four-timer of course, will be seeing Hungarian sprint sensation, Overdose, tested at the very highest level for the first time, following the unfortunate situation in France in October.”
ROYAL ASCOT 2009 ORDER OF RUNNING
SECOND DAY - WEDNESDAY 17th JUNE
THIRD DAY - THURSDAY 18th JUNE
FOURTH DAY - FRIDAY 19th JUNE
FIFTH DAY - SATURDAY 20th JUNE
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