Ben Asgari – @BenAsgariRacing
We know plenty about the four-pronged Aussie contingent heading to Royal Ascot but who will be Criterion, Brazen Beau, Wandjina and Shamal Wind’s biggest dangers?
Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m), Tuesday June 16 – Aussie Contenders: Shamal Wind, Brazen Beau (undecided)
Sole Power is the obvious one to beat with the eight-year-old looking for a third-straight victory in the race. Though the Ed Lynam-trained sprinter goes into the race off a sixth placing at Group 2 level in Ireland, the start prior the son of Kyllachy recorded the fifth Group 1 win of his career in the Al Quoz Sprint (1000m) in Dubai.
Muthmir certainly doesn’t possess the record of Sole Power but the five-year-old raced into King’s Stand calculations with an impressive win at Group 2 level last start in France. That race was the son of Invincible Spirit’s first run over 1000m and also his biggest win to date.
Mecca’s Angel boasts seven wins from 10 runs at 1000m including a two-length victory first-up at Group 3 level in France. Significantly in that win the four-year-old mare defeated Hot Streak by four lengths, who finished third behind Sole Power in last year’s King’s Stand.
Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2000m), Wednesday June 17 – Aussie Contenders: Criterion
Australian race fans know all about the ability of two-time Melbourne Cup-winning Irish horseman Dermot Weld, who prepares the Prince Of Wales’s favourite Free Eagle. The lightly-raced son of High Chaparral, who has won two of his four career starts, hasn’t been seen since finishing third behind Noble Mission in the Champions Stakes (2000m) at Ascot in October. Notably, the second, fifth and seventh placegetters from that race have since won at Group 1 level.
Twelve months ago California Chrome was feted as the three-year-old that would end America’s 36-year wait for a horse to complete the famous Triple Crown. Though the Art Sherman-trained horse could only manage fourth in the Belmont Stakes (2400m), he has since won the Hollywood Derby (1810m) on turf and finished runner-up in the Dubai World Cup (2000m).
French four-year-old Ectot strung together six-straight victories between 1400m to 2400m before finishing 17th behind Treve in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m). A Group 1 winner over a mile as a two-year-old, the son of Hurricane Run has never raced outside of France.
The Grey Gatsby was a dual Group 1 winner as a three-year-old, having dominated the Prix du Jockey Club (2100) in France before defeating star colt Australia in the Irish Champion Stakes (2012m). This preparation the Kevin Ryan-trained son of Mastercraftsman beat all bar Queen Anne Stakes (1600m) favourite Solow in the Dubai Duty Free (1800m), before finishing fourth in the Tattersalls Gold Cup (2000).
Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1200m), Saturday June 20 – Aussie Contenders: Wandjina, Brazen Beau (undecided)
Mustajeeb will be looking for a second-straight success at Royal Ascot after winning the Jersey Stakes (1408m) 12 months ago. After finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (1609m) on turf in November, the four-year-old resumed with a strong win over 1200m at Group 2 level in Ireland.
Tropics may have finished ninth behind Slade Power in last year’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1200m) but the seven-year-old is expected to provide a more serious threat this time around. Since that run, the Dean Ivory-trained sprinter has finished runner-up behind both Slade Power in the July Cup (1200m) at Newmarket and Gordon Lord Byron in the Champions Sprint Stakes (1200m) at Ascot. He goes into the race on the back of a first-up victory at Listed level at Windsor.
G Force recorded a career-highlight with a victory over Gordon Lord Byron in the Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup (1200m) at Haydock in September. The four-year-old’s first-up effort in the Temple Stakes (1000m) should also be forgiven as he was badly checked as he attempted to work his way into the race.