A Dozen Nations Come Together in Royal Ascot Group One Entries
Exciting global entries have been revealed for the seven Group One races run this year at Royal Ascot, which takes place from Tuesday, June 18 to Saturday, June 22 inclusive.
In total, there are 367 Group One entries – up from 344 in 2012 – and the highest figure since 2008.
Further international representation is expected in Royal Ascot’s Group Two contests, the entries for which are revealed next week, while American handler Wesley Ward is considering sending a team to contest the two-year-old contests at the meeting.
All the Group One races at Royal Ascot are part of the QIPCO British Champions Series, with the King’s Stand Stakes and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes being the first two British legs of the Global Sprint Challenge.
“We are delighted with the number of entries, the range of countries that they represent and the overall quality,” said Nick Smith, Head of Communications and International Racing at Ascot.
“The interest from the USA is particularly strong this year, headlined by arguably the highest profile horse in the world in Animal Kingdom. If he were to add a Royal Ascot Group One to victories in the Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup he would cement and enhance his position as an all-time great on the world stage.
“It’s particularly good to see Mike De Kock planning to have runners for South Africa after another tremendous Dubai Carnival. It is probably worth noting that there were eight thoroughbred races on the card on Dubai World Cup night – the world’s most international race meeting – and seven of them have been entered across the Royal Ascot Group One programme.
“Australia’s star act, so long as he comes through the All Aged Stakes on Saturday in good shape, is Black Caviar’s half-brother, All Too Hard, and he heads a habitually strong team from there. The Japanese three-year-old A Shin Top has looked special to date and the Hong Kong sprinters are always to be feared, especially having hit the board here with Little Bridge last year.
“In addition we have more familiar European stars to look forward to seeing in June including, hopefully, some of Cirrus Des Aigles, Camelot, St Nicholas Abbey, Moonlight Cloud and Dawn Approach. The three-year-old picture will become clearer after the QIPCO Guineas Meeting, of course.”
Day 1 – Tuesday, June 18, 2013
£350,000 QUEEN ANNE STAKES, ONE MILE
The opening race of Royal Ascot, the £350,000 Queen Anne Stakes over the straight mile, has been a highlight of the meeting in the last few years with Goldikova (2010), Canford Cliffs (2011) and Frankel (2012) having taken the honours.
ALL TOO HARD (John Hawkes, Australia), a half-brother to wonder mare Black Caviar, is a three-time Group One winner Down Under and Australia’s best seven-furlong/mile performer, having taken the 2012 Caulfield Guineas as well as the Group One Orr Stakes and Group One Futurity Stakes, both over seven furlongs, at the same venue this year. He runs in the All Aged Stakes this Saturday in Sydney and all being well will ship to the UK after that.
South Africa is represented by SOFT FALLING RAIN (Mike de Kock), who was last seen taking the Group Two Godolphin Mile at Meydan on Dubai World Cup night, March 30. He also holds an entry in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
Europe is also well represented, with six entries from Ireland, three from France and two from Germany.
One of the French-trained trio, DON BOSCO (David Smaga) is owned by screen legend and world-renowned bridge expert Omar Sharif.
£350,000 KING’S STAND STAKES, FIVE FURLONGS
Run over five furlongs, the King’s Stand Stakes is the first British leg of the Global Sprint Challenge and has attracted 49 entries.
Australia has taken the King’s Stand Stakes four times and the two entries from that country in 2013 are SHAMEXPRESS (Danny O’Brien), winner of the Group One Newmarket Handicap at Flemington on March 9, and SEA SIREN (John O’Shea), successful in the Group One Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley in October, 2012 and runner up to Mental in the Patinack Farm Classic at Flemington the following month.
OVERDOSE (Josef Roszival, Hungary) finished fourth in the 2011 renewal and could return as an eight-year-old, while SHEA SHEA (Mike de Kock, South Africa) was successful in the Group One Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan on Dubai World Cup night and is firmly on course to give that country’s most famous trainer a debut Royal Ascot success.
£350,000 ST JAMES’S PALACE STAKES, ONE MILE
The St James’s Palace Stakes, worth £100,000 extra this year, is the third Group One on the opening day and has 58 entries.
The £350,000 contest brings together the cream of the three-old colts over the round mile and there are entries from around the world.
Those entries include the Japanese-trained A SHIN TOP (Masato Nishizono), a leading two-year-old in his homeland last year and a Group Two winner last time out at Nakayama on April 6. He runs in the NHK Mile Cup in early May and a good run there will see him book his ticket.
Java’s War announced himself as a serious contender for the Kentucky Derby when coming from an unfavourable position to land the Grade One Toyota Blue Grass Stakes on Polytrack by a neck at Keeneland on April 13. The son of WarPass, who made a winning debut on turf in September, had previously chased home Kentucky Derby favourite Verrazano in the Grade Two Tampa Bay Derby on dirt in March.
McPeek revealed: “Java’s War has been good since his win in the Blue Grass Stakes and there have been no problems but whether or not he goes to Royal Ascot would depend on how he is running and doing over the next several weeks.
“He ran an excellent race in the Blue Grass and he is a horse who certainly understands what he is supposed to do when he is out there. I would be a little bit concerned that the St James’ Palace Stakes will be a little bit too short for him but the way the track is, it plays out a little further and brings stamina into play.
“I think he likes the synthetics but he has run well on everything we have put him on and his pedigree suggests turf. Mr Fipke (the owner) will ultimately decide where we run but I think it is a good option for him.
“He will definitely run in the Kentucky Derby next and his run behind Verrazano is obviously good form because he (Verrazano) is now favourite for the race. The Kentucky Derby is a different race though – at a mile and a quarter – anything can happen.”
War Dancer, a son of War Front, has won two of his three starts on turf and scored decisively over a mile and a furlong at Keeneland on April 10.
McPeek continued: “War Dancer was very impressive on his latest start. He got left at the gate but proceeded to win anyway and is a horse with a big future.
“We really like this horse on the grass and I would love to think he could make the St James’ Palace Stakes.
“Although he hasn’t had a lot of racing, I know he is very talented and we are going to run him in the Grade Two American Turf at Churchill Downs on May 3.
“If he was to win that, I would be really interested to see how he would get on in a race like the St James’s Palace.”
Owner Ken Ramsey has been a great supporter of Royal Ascot and he could be represented by CHARMING KITTEN (Todd Pletcher, USA), who was third behind Java’s War in the Blue Grass Stakes.
Day 2 – Wednesday, June 19, 2013
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes on day two could well prove to be the one of the races of the meeting with a possible clash between CAMELOT (Aidan O’Brien, Ireland), the 2012 2000 Guineas and Derby winner, and CIRRUS DES AIGLES (Corine Barande-Barbe, France) a strong possibility. Cirrus Des Aigles won the QIPCO Champion Stakes in 2011 and beat all bar the mighty Frankel in the same race last year. He is currently the highest-rated horse in the world.
A total of 40 entries have been received, with multiple Group One scorers ST NICHOLAS ABBEY (Aidan O’Brien, Ireland) and SNOW FAIRY (Ed Dunlop) adding further spice to the mix.
DAY 3 – Thursday, June 20, 2013
Always one of the highlights of the meeting, the 54 entries for this year’s renewal of the Gold Cup include two of the last three winners in COLOUR VISION (Saeed bin Suroor), the 2012 scorer, and RITE OF PASSAGE (Dermot Weld, Ireland), the winner in 2010 who returned from a long layoff to capture last season’s QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot in October.
SIMENON (Willie Mullins, Ireland) was a dual winner at the Royal Meeting in 2012, taking the Ascot Stakes and the Queen Alexandra Stakes.
DAY 4 – Friday, June 21, 2013
£350,000 CORONATION STAKES, ONE MILE
The mile contest for three-year-old fillies has attracted 58 entries for the 2013 renewal after being boosted in value to £350,000 from £250,000.
As well as the usual strong European representation, McPeek could be represented by PURE FUN, who was a top-class two-year-old in the USA last season, annexing the Grade One Hollywood Starlet Stakes on Cushion Track at HollywoodPark in December.
The daughter of Pure Prize was third on her return in the Grade Three Fathead Bourbonette Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in March but found life tougher against the colts in the Grade Three Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 20, when seventh.
McPeek said: “I wanted to have the Coronation Stakes as an option for Pure Fun. She is owned by a nice group of people and it will depend on how she runs in the Kentucky Oaks.
“She has been competitive on the grass and she has already won a Grade One so to even place in another one would be a big deal.
“There have been excuses for her performances this season. I think she needed the run first time out and then she was in against the colts next time. The original plan was the run in the Honeybee Stakes and then the Fantasy Stakes but things didn’t work out.
“We have had a couple of misfires but we are regrouping and I think she is well prepared for the Kentucky Oaks. We feel like we have got her right and she travelled from Keeneland to Churchill yesterday and will train here up until the Oaks.”
McPeek is no stranger to having runners at Ascot, having sent over Hard Buck to finish second in the 2004 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, while his most recent runner at the Royal meeting, Casper’s Touch, was third in the 2010 Chesham Stakes.
DAY 5 – Saturday, June 22, 2013
£500,000 DIAMOND JUBILEE STAKES, 6f
The six-furlong Diamond Jubilee Stakes often proves to be the most cosmopolitan race of the week and that will almost certainly be the case again in 2013 with no less than eight countries represented entries at entries stage.
A brace of entries from the USA could see two new faces have their first runners at Royal Ascot. HANDSOME MIKE (Doug O’Neill) is a versatile performer stateside, with his victories including the nine-furlong Grade Two Pennsylvania Derby and the Grade Three Commonwealth Stakes over seven furlongs at Keeneland. HAVELOCK (Darrin Miller) has been campaigned mostly over six and seven furlongs and was last seen out taking the Shakertown Stakes over an extended five furlongs at Keeneland on April 13.
Raiders from Hong Kong have become a regular feature at Royal Ascot and the two possible challengers this year are LUCKY NINE (Caspar Fownes), a four-time Group One scorer at Sha Tin (runs next in the KrisFlyer in Singapore), and TIME AFTER TIME (John Moore), who was last seen out when second in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup at Sha Tin on March 17.
Bahrain’s representative is the well-travelled KRYPTON FACTOR (Fawzi Nass), a close sixth in the 2012 running of the Diamond Jubilee.
A strong European challenge is headed by MOONLIGHT CLOUD (Freddy Head, France), who gave Black Caviar the fright of her life when the fast-finishing head runner-up last year.
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