Stars of Dubai World Cup Night and Sydney Championships head Royal Ascot international entries
Last Updated: 23/04/14 12:56pm
Amber Sky could represent Hong Kong at Royal Ascot
No fewer than 11 nations are represented amongst the entries for this year's seven Royal Ascot Group One races.
The Hong Kong-trained winners of both Group One sprints on Dubai World Cup night, Sterling City and Amber Sky, are expected to head the early betting markets for the Diamond Jubilee and King's Stand Stakes respectively.
Sterling City is set to take in the KrisFlyer Sprint in Singapore before a final decision is made on Royal Ascot but if successful there, he would be racing for the US$ 1 million bonus at Royal Ascot, having already won Dubai's leg of the Global Sprint Challenge.
The bonus is payable to the connections of any horse successful in three of ten legs of the Global Sprint Challenge. The next leg is the KrisFlyer Sprint in Singapore on 18th May, followed by the two Royal Ascot sprints and the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on 12th July.
The USA is represented in the initial entries for the King's Stand Stakes by Ancil, who broke the five-furlong track record when winning at Tampa Bay Downs in March. Trainer Joan Scott is expected to be the first lady trainer from the United States to saddle a runner at Royal Ascot.
South Africa's Shea Shea, was narrowly denied by fellow entry, Ireland's Sole Power, in last year's King's Stand and both are expected to line up again.
Australia, successful four times in the King's Stand Stakes, is represented by last year's champion three-year-old sprinter Zoustar, although he is more likely to take up his engagement in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes where in addition to Sterling City, international representation could include North American sprinters Occasional VIew and Laugh Track.
Occasional View won the Grade Three Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland on 12th April with Canadian-trained Laugh Track just under three lengths behind in third, the last named having been beaten just a neck in the Grade One Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita in November.
The Queen Anne Stakes has attracted its most cosmopolitan entries ever, with eight countries represented at the closing stage.
Australia's champion miler Sacred Falls heads the international cast having won the Group One Doncaster Mile on 12th April at The Championships in Sydney. He went on to finish second to the retired It's A Dundeel in the Group One Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, also at Randwick, the following week.
Hong Kong has three entries headed by Able Friend, second in the Hong Kong Derby over 10 furlongs in March and a winner back over a mile at local Group Two level on his next start. He heads next to the Group One Champions Mile at Sha Tin on 4th May where likely opponents could include fellow Queen Anne entries Gold Fun, second in the Group One Hong Kong Mile in December and Blazing Speed, who is a regular in the big Hong Kong races between a mile and 10 furlongs.
South Africa's entry is Soft Falling Rain, second in the recent Group Two Godolphin Mile in Dubai, whilst the USA could be represented by Golden Ticket, who dead heated in the 2012 Group One Travers Stakes and was second in the Group One Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile last year.
The USA is also represented by proxy in the Queen Anne through Verrazano, who was fourth in that Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile when trained by Todd Pletcher.
Germany (Indomito), France (Kenhope), and of course Ireland and the UK make up the nations with entries. Richard Hannon has entered Sussex Stakes winner Toronado, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner Olympic Glory and 1,000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes winner, Sky Lantern, although she is likely to start her year in the Group Two Duke of Cambridge Stakes.
The Prince of Wales's Stakes will be many people's idea of the race of the week this year with French-trained Arc winner Treve an intended runner pending her reappearance at Longchamp this weekend.
Compatriot and Ascot regular Cirrus Des Aigles and Ocovango, make up a powerful French entry for the race which also includes a fascinating possible runner from Hong Kong in Akeed Mofeed.
Akeed Mofeed, winner of Hong Kong's premier race last year, The Group One Hong Kong Cup, has been forced to miss this weekend's QEII Cup at Sha Tin through injury and also been ruled out of the Singapore Cup in May but has nevertheless been entered for Royal Ascot.
Breeders' Cup Turf winner Magician and Derby winner Ruler Of The World head Aidan O'Brien's entries whilst others of note include last year's Prince of Wales's Stakes runner-up Mukhadram, who was second in the Dubai World Cup in March; last year's Irish Derby winner Trading Leather, and Yorkshire Oaks winner The Fugue.
There is no doubt that the star name amongst the entries for the Gold Cup is The Queen's reigning champion, Estimate, although the favourite for the race is likely to be last year's St Leger winner Leading Light in what could be a fascinating clash between the last two winners of the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot.
The USA could be represented by Frac Daddy, a recent winner at Keeneland, whilst entries have also been received from France, Spain and Germany for Europe's long distance championship.
"We are delighted to see so many continents represented and especially pleased with the depth of entries from Hong Kong after their sprinters stole the show on Dubai World Cup night," said Nick Smith, Head of Communications and International Racing at Ascot.
"The entries from North America look high quality this year too and, in addition to a large contingent from Kenny McPeek at this stage, and the very quick Ancil and Laugh Track, we are expecting No Nay Never (Wesley Ward) to try to supplement his Norfolk Stakes win of last year in the Jersey Stakes. Wesley reports that he is putting together his usual string of two year olds for the trip and Todd Pletcher has also shown interest in sending juveniles this year.
"The new Championships in Sydney got off to a flying start over the last couple of weeks and we are very much looking forward to seeing Australia's champion miler, Sacred Falls, in the Queen Anne Stakes and, of course, Zoustar in the Diamond Jubilee.
"All the big names in the QIPCO 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas are entered for the St James's Palace Stakes and Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot respectively and the picture for those two events will become clearer after the Spring Classics around Europe, as ever.
"Arc winner Treve is the best horse in the world on official ratings so to have her headlining the Prince of Wales's Stakes is obviously excellent news and, needless to say, we will all be hoping to see The Queen's Estimate back to her best in the Gold Cup."