Royal Ascot Group One Entries Revealed
This year’s Royal Ascot Meeting, which runs from Tuesday, June 17, to Saturday, June 21, boasts international representatives in all of the seven Group One events, entries for which are released today.
For the first time in Royal Ascot’s history, the five-day meeting will begin with three Group One contests on Tuesday, June 17, with the Queen Anne Stakes (2.30pm) followed by the upgraded King’s Stand Stakes (3.05pm) and the St James’s Palace Stakes (3.45pm). Each is worth £250,000.
With the last three renewals having been won by overseas-trained horses, it is no surprise that this year’s King’s Stand Stakes has again attracted a truly international entry, with 18 of the 47 potential participants hailing from outside Britain.
Last year Australia had three of the first four home in the five-furlong contest, including the winner, Miss Andretti, third-placed Magnus and the fourth Takeover Target, who triumphed in the race 12 months previously.
Trainer Joe Janiak looks set to send his star nine-year-old back to Royal Ascot for a third time and he could be joined by Magnus along with exciting three-year old sprinter Universal Ruler, who is trained by Darren McAuliffe.
New Zealand could have its first Royal Ascot runner courtesy of multiple Group One scorer Seachange, trained by Ralph Manning, while Hong Kong, successful in the 2005 Golden Jubilee Stakes with the David Oughton-trained Cape Of Good Hope, could be represented by Group One Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint victor Sacred Kingdom (formerly known as Jumbo Star in Australia).
South African trainer Sean Tarry is hoping to run his six-year-old National Colour in the race and is looking forward to seeing the former South African horse of the year return to action after an absence of over a year due to the mare chipping a bone in her knee.
Tarry explained: “We have entered National Colour in the King’s Stand Stakes. She’s already at Newmarket, having arrived on Monday and is staying at Geoff Wragg’s stables at the moment. I will be over-seeing her preparation for the race when I come over next month.
“She won three Group One races back to back in South Africa, the Computaform Sprint over 1000 metres, the SA Fillies Sprint over 1200 metres and the Mercury Sprint over 1200 metres, before going on to Dubai. She won her first race there like we expected but she needed knee surgery after her failure in the 2007 Group One Golden Shaheen on World Cup night.
“She’s very highly rated. We have taken our time with her and we are hoping that she will be right for the King’s Stand Stakes or, if not, the Coolmore Nunthorpe at York. She won her last start over five furlongs on turf, the Computaform Stakes, and I think she is brilliant over that trip. She does get six, but I would like to race her sparingly this season.
“Her ability is not going anywhere, but she needs four legs. Let’s hope that she comes back to her best.”
Maryland-based trainer John Fisher is also aiming his star sprinter Smart Enough at the King’s Stand Stakes and is hoping that the five-year-old gelding, who has won 10 of his 16 starts in the United States, will make an impact on his European debut.
Fisher said: “We have entered Smart Enough in both the King’s Stand and the Golden Jubilee Stakes. We are leaning towards the five-furlong race but we don’t want to preclude the fact that he might run very well and therefore take his chance four days later.
“He’s a very good shipper, putting on weight in most cases, and he comes out of his races well. He likes travelling around and we will aim to bring him over four or five days before the race, but the plans have yet to be finalised.
“He ran his first race for five months at Keeneland on April 13 and he got blocked and clipped heels coming round the turn, so he got shuffled back and still ran really well to finish second. John Velazquez rode him there for the first time because I want him to be on board at Ascot, but he just met bad luck on that occasion.
“There aren’t many Group One sprints around Maryland and I didn’t want to take him to California so we will go to Ascot instead. He’s won 10 races and the only time he finished out of the frame was when he threw a shoe coming into the turn and was pulled up.
“He holds five track records and we haven’t got to the bottom of him. He could even set a record at Ascot because he is such a legitimate and lovely horse.”
The home challenge looks set to be headed by last year’s runner up Dandy Man, now trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Group One Darley July Cup winner Sakhee’s Secret, Group One Prix de l’Abbaye scorer Benbaun, and Kingsgate Native, who triumphed as a juvenile in last season’s Group One Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes.
The King’s Stand Stakes is the second leg of the Global Sprint Challenge and 27 of those engaged in that race have also been entered in the Challenge’s third leg, the £375,000 Golden Jubilee Stakes (3.45pm) on Saturday, June 21, the final day of Royal Ascot. The six furlong contest has received an entry of 68, of whom 22 are trained overseas.
Smart Enough, Takeover Target, Magnus, Universal Ruler, Seachange and Sacred Kingdom are in the race, along with Benbaun, Sakhee’s Secret and Kingsgate Native. Godolphin has entered Dandy Man alongside the talented quartet of Diabolical, Elusive Warning, Greek Renaissance and Wingbeat.
The last two winners of the Golden Jubilee Stakes, Les Arcs and Soldier’s Tale, have been entered, while Aidan O’Brien, bidding to give the Irish their first victory since College Chapel in 1993, has a total of 10 horses, including last year’s Group Two Coventry Stakes scorer Henrythenavigator and Group Three Jersey Stakes runner-up US Ranger.
Nick Smith, Ascot’s Head of Public Relations, was pleased with the international quality of the entries for both the King’s Stand Stakes and the Golden Jubilee Stakes and is looking forward to seeing some high quality sprinters in action at the Royal Meeting.
Smith explained: “We have witnessed some of the world’s superstars at Royal Ascot in recent times, especially in the sprint events where we have been treated to the likes of Choisir, Cape Of Good Hope and Miss Andretti.
“I am delighted that 2006 King’s Stand winner Takeover Target and last year’s third Magnus will return this summer having run so well here last year and I am also excited about the prospect of seeing the likes of Sacred Kingdom, Seachange and Smart Enough take on the best that Europe has to offer.
“It’s a shame that Daiwa Scarlett, probably the most exciting horse in Japan at the moment, has had a slight setback as she was to be entered for the Prince of Wales's Stakes. We will now concentrate on trying to entice her connections to the King George and the Juddmonte International. We are also talking to representatives of Roc De Cambs, Meisho Samsom, Matsurida Gogh and Asakusa King with the King George in mind as the July slot does generally suit them better than June.”
The Queen Anne Stakes returns to its traditional place as the first race of Royal Ascot for the first time since 2002 and this year’s superb entry of 35 looks certain to produce another fantastic contest following on from last year’s thrilling contest which saw a four-way photo-finish with the game Ramonti prevailing by a short-head from Jeremy, with Turtle Bowl and George Washington in close proximity.
The possible French challenge this year is headed by Alain de Royer-Dupre’s Darjina, who finished third in last season’s Coronation Stakes, while Ramonti spearheads the four-strong Godolphin challenge, which also includes Blue Ksar, Creachadoir and Diabolical. Their trainer Saeed bin Suroor is seeking a seventh victory in the mile event. South African trainer Mike de Kock has entered Bad Girl Runs.
77 entries have been received for the St James’s Palace Stakes, including 12 from the Aidan O’Brien stable, which has triumphed in the mile contest with Giant’s Causeway (2000), Black Minnaloushe (2001), Rock Of Gibraltar (2002) and Excellent Art (2007).
Henry Cecil has entered the impressive Group Three Craven Stakes winner Twice Over, while the famous Khalid Abdulla silks could also be represented by Cecil’s Timetable, Confront, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, and recent Leopardstown Group Three scorer Famous Name.
Godolphin, successful in the race with Sharmadal in 2005, has a dozen horses, including Group One Racing Post Trophy scorer Ibn Khaldun and Rio De La Plata. Saeed bin Suroor could also run Fast Company, who chased home Irish entry New Approach in the Group One Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in October.
The £375,000 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (3.45pm), highlight of the second day of the Royal Meeting on Wednesday, June 18, has attracted 45 entries, including Ramonti and Champion Stakes victor Literato, who are among the eight entries from Godolphin, victorious in the race with Dubai Millennium (2000), Fantastic Light (2001), and Grandera (2002).
The Mike de Kock-trained Sun Classique is set to make her European debut in the 10-furlong contest following an excellent win in the Group One Dubai Sheema Classic at Nad Al Sheba on March 29, while the South African handler has also entered Archipenko, who finished a close third in the Group One Dubai Duty Free on the same card.
Archipenko’s former handler Aidan O’Brien could aim for his first Prince Of Wales’s Stakes victory with prolific Group One winning filly Peeping Fawn and last year’s St James’s Palace Stakes runner-up Duke Of Marmalade. He may also be represented by Group One Irish Derby victor Soldier Of Fortune and Haradasun, who has joined the Ballydoyle stable following two Group One triumphs in Australia.
Manduro defeated the subsequent Arc winner Dylan Thomas in Prince Of Wales’s Stakes last season, and the Andre Fabre-trained colt was judged by the world’s official handicappers to have put up the best performance of a horse anywhere in the world in 2007.
O’Brien also looks to have a strong hand in the £250,000 Gold Cup (3.45pm), run over two and a half miles on the third day of the Royal Meeting, Thursday, June 19, which has attracted 39 entries.
The champion trainer has entered five horses, including Yeats, who is set to bid to become the first horse since Sagaro to win three consecutive Gold Cups, as well as dual Group Two scorer Septimus and Melbourne Cup second Mahler, who scored in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot last season.
The £250,000 Coronation Stakes (3.45pm), highlight of the fourth day of the Royal Meeting on Friday, June 20, was last year contested by the winners of the English, Irish, French and German 1,000 Guineas, and this season’s renewal will undoubtedly be another high-quality affair, with 65 fillies entered for the mile contest
Alain de Royer-Dupre has engaged Zarkava, who was an impressive winner of the Group One Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp in October, while Pascal Bary could be represented by Group One Cheveley Park Stakes heroine Natagora.
John Gosden, successful in the race with Nannina in 2006, has entered recent impressive Group Three scorer Infallible and she could be joined by Muthabara, who took the Group Three Dubai Duty Free Stakes in eye-catching fashion at Newbury over the weekend.
Charles Barnett, Ascot’s Chief Executive, commented: “We are very pleased with the Group One entries for Royal Ascot. Nick’s hard work in talking to owners and trainers around the world has again been a great success with the King’s Stands Stakes and the Golden Jubilee Stakes having very strong international representation.”
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