Royal Ascot Group Two Entries Revealed
Entries are revealed today for four of the Group Two races at Royal Ascot 2008, the Windsor Forest Stakes, the Ribblesdale Stakes, the King Edward VII Stakes and the Hardwicke Stakes.
A total of 30 fillies and mares have been entered for the £140,000 Windsor Forest Stakes, run on Wednesday, June 18, the second day of the Royal Meeting.
Cheveley Park Stud has taken two of the first four runnings of the mile contest with Peeress in 2005 and Nannina last season. This year the stud has Heaven Sent, who finished second behind Championship Point in the Listed Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot last year.
Mick Channon could be represented by Majestic Roi, who beat Nannina in the Group One Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket in October, while Henry Cecil has engaged Group One scorer Passage Of Time.
A strong Irish entry of seven is headed by Aidan O’Brien’s prolific Group One winner Peeping Fawn and last year’s 1,000 Guineas runner-up and Coronation Stakes fourth Arch Swing, trained by John Oxx.
There are also two entries from France, Sabana Perdida, who finished third in last year’s Windsor Forest Stakes, and the progressive Snow Key from the Jonathan Pease stable. Alamanni has been engaged by Italian trainer Emilio Borromeo.
South African trainer Mike de Kock is hoping that Bad Girl Runs will also line up in the Group Two contest. The six-year-old mare missed the race last season after finishing lame in the Group One Dubai Duty Free at Nad Al Sheba, but de Kock is hopeful that she will take her chance at the Royal Meeting this year.
De Kock said: “Bad Girl Runs has been entered in the Windsor Forest Stakes. She won a good race at Nad Al Sheba in March, 2007, before going wrong in the Dubai Duty Free later that month.
“We’ve given her a rest since then and she has been staying with Jamie Railton and is now cantering. She’s a very capable mare, having won twice at Group One level in South Africa, and we are hopeful of seeing her in action at the Royal Meeting.”
The £150,000 Ribblesdale Stakes, run on the third day of the Royal Meeting on Thursday, June 19, has attracted 83 three-year-old fillies including the Aidan O’Brien-trained Listen, who was an impressive winner of the Group One Meon Valley Stud Fillies’ Mile at Ascot on September 29. The daughter of Sadler’s Wells is one of the champion trainer’s 14 entries, which also include Kitty Matcham and Savethisdanceforme.
Dermot Weld, successful with Irresistible Jewel in 2002, has engaged the unexposed Chinese White and Mad About You, who finished third in the Group One Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp in October, while Andre Fabre, who took the Ribblesdale Stakes with Tulipa in 1996, has entered dual Group Three winner Gagnoa.
The home challenge includes leading 1,000 Guineas contenders Spacious and Muthabara, representing five-time Ribblesdale Stakes winning-trainer John Dunlop, as well as Oaks fancies Dar Re Mi and Cape Amber.
The Queen, who has won the Ribblesdale three times with Almeria (1959), Expansive (1979) and Phantom Gold (1995), could be represented by the Roger Charlton-trained Trianon, while John Oxx may bid to follow up Sahara Slew’s victory in 2001 with the unexposed Katiyra.
American trainer Kenny McPeek is considering letting My Baby Baby run in the mile and a half contest. The Kentucky-based handler, who sent over Hard Buck to finish second behind Doyen in the Group One King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 2004, will finalise his plans after the three-year-old runs at Churchill Downs on Friday (May 2).
McPeek said: “We have given My Baby Baby an entry in the Ribblesdale and we will make a final decision after she runs in the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs over an extended mile on Friday, May 2. If she runs well there, then I would love to bring her over to Royal Ascot.
“She was second on her first start and finished third behind Kentucky Oaks runner Awesome Chic in the Grade Three Florida Oaks at Gulfstream Park in March. I think she will have no problem in stepping up to a mile and half.
“We know the standard needed to run well at Ascot having sent out Hard Buck four years ago and I am quite excited about trying her over a further trip on turf, because she has taken to everything we have asked of her so far.”
A total of 86 colts have been entered for the £200,000 King Edward VII Stakes, run on the fourth day of the Royal Meeting, Friday June 20. Champion trainer Aidan O’Brien, successful in the mile and a half contest with Five Dynasties in 2004, has engaged 27 horses, including Kingdom Of Naples and Washington Irving.
John Gosden, who won this race with Plea Bargain in 2005, has entered recent Sandown Classic Trial winner Centennial as well as Bronze Cannon and Moonquake, while Saeed bin Suroor, who took the spoils with Mutafaweq in 1999, has Group One victors Ibn Khaldun and Rio De La Plata among his eight entries.
Tartan Bearer and Confront have been engaged by five-time King Edward VII Stakes winner Sir Michael Stoute, who could also rely on Doctor Fremantle and Dr Faustus, while Henry Cecil, himself a six-time victor of the ‘Ascot Derby’, has entered Group Three Craven Stakes scorer Twice Over, Unnefer, Kandahar Run, Tomintoul Flyer and Ancient Lights.
The race is also on the agenda for another Kenny McPeek-trained runner, Nistle’s Crunch, who finished seventh behind Kentucky Derby favourite Big Brown in the Grade One Florida Derby over nine furlongs on dirt at Gulfstream Park on March 29.
The Van Nistelrooy colt will also have his race schedule finalised after running in the Grade Three Crown Royal American Turf Stakes over an extended mile at Churchill Downs on Friday, May 2, but McPeek is hopeful that a good performance will book his ticket to Royal Ascot.
McPeek commented: “Nistle’s Crunch needs to run well on Friday and then we will seriously consider him for the King Edward VII Stakes. He’s similar to My Baby Baby in the fact that I think he will improve for a step up in trip.
“I’ve built a two mile right handed grass gallop at my Lexington training establishment so it gives us time to condition our horses for the unique demands of Ascot, it’s even got its own Swinley Bottom. We are trying to emulate the conditions of racing in Europe to give them the best chance when they come over.
“We are considering our options with jockeys. My first choice would be Kent Desormeaux, but the timing is important and Robby Alborado rides for me a lot. For them to ride a mile and a half is reasonably simple, but we have Drilling For Oil entered in the Gold Cup and he might be better off with a local jockey who has ridden in the race before.
“I haven’t been to Ascot since they redeveloped it and I am excited about coming back to see what they have done. I was glad that I was able to visit the old Ascot but I’ve seen the pictures and it looks very impressive. I hope that I am able to meet the Queen again this year, hopefully in the winner’s enclosure this time!”
The £150,000 Hardwicke Stakes, run on the final day of the Royal Meeting, Saturday, June 21, has attracted a quality entry of 68, including 2006 and 2007 scorer Maraahel, who could bid to become the first horse since Tristan in 1884 to win the one and a half mile contest three times.
Maraahel’s trainer Sir Michael Stoute has also entered seven other horses including Group Three Grosvenor Casinos Cumberland Lodge Stakes victor Ask, and Royal Ascot winner Papal Bull, while last year’s King Edward VII Stakes winner Boscobel and Group One Champion Stakes scorer Literato are among the nine Godolphin entries.
The last two winners of the St Leger, Sixties Icon (2006) and Lucarno (2007), have also been engaged along with Group One King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes second Youmzain and Andre Fabre’s unbeaten colt Coastal Path.
Champion South African stayer Thundering Star could also run in the Hardwicke Stakes. Trainer Mike de Kock has also entered the five-year-old in the Gold Cup over a mile further and will finalise plans after a prep run at Sandown at the end of May.
De Kock explained: “Thundering Star has been entered in both the Hardwicke Stakes and the Gold Cup. He had one start in France for Christophe Ferland but will be returning to my care and will be coming over to England shortly.
“His run at Longchamp in the Group Three Prix de Barbeville on Sunday (April 27) was not bad considering he had been off for a long time and was carrying a Group One penalty against some good opposition.
“He stays all day but we will run him in the Group Two Henry II Stakes at Sandown on May 29 before deciding which race to go for at Royal Ascot. He won the Canon Gold Cup over two miles at Greyville last year and is a very capable horse.”
Nick Smith, Ascot’s Head of Public Relations, is delighted with the quality of the entries for the four Group Two contests and is anticipating some vintage renewals at this year’s Royal Meeting.
Smith commented: “This year’s three-year-old and older Group Two races at Royal Ascot look set to be more competitive than ever and it is very satisfying to see such a strong international entry.
“We are particularly pleased that Kenny McPeek is set to return following Hard Buck’s excellent second in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes four years ago and we wish him all the best with his runners at the Royal Meeting.”
The three other Group Two races at Royal Ascot - the Coventry Stakes, the Queen Mary Stakes and the Norfolk Stakes - are for two-year-olds and entries close at the five-day stage.
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