British Champions Series
Royal Ascot gets under way on Tuesday and the action will come thick and fast – with three Champions Series races alone on the opening afternoon. Below are five horses with the potential to enhance their reputations at the meeting.
Trainer: John Gosden. General odds: 11-4
Many fancied the Frankel colt to make an impact in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas last month but a late setback ruled him out.
Instead, he ran in the Listed Heron Stakes at Sandown last month and preserved his unbeaten record with a workmanlike success on soft ground which connections believe did not show him in the best light.
Conditions promise to be quicker at Ascot and it is difficult to forget the previous impressions he left when scoring in fine style at Newcastle and Yarmouth.
Frankel’s flawless career included five victories at Ascot – including in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
Trainer: John Gosden. General odds: 11-10
Cracksman took the breath away with his seven-length triumph in the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot in October and his first appearance at the Royal Meeting is eagerly anticipated.
He picked up from where he left off with a fluent win in the Prix Ganay at ParisLongchamp in April but was less impressive when winning the Investec Coronation Cup by a head at Epsom last time.
The manner of his victory will encourage rivals that the 130-rated performer can be beaten just 19 days later but, in his defence, the son of Frankel banged his head in the stalls at Epsom and did not look at home on the track.
Trainer: Charlie Hills. General odds: 5-1
Charlie Hills won the first running of the Commonwealth Cup with Muhaarar three years ago and that outstanding colt went on to become champion sprinter.
Does he have another champ in Equilateral? He looked an exciting prospect when winning on his debut at Bath as a two-year-old and confirmed that impression when routing ten rivals on his reappearance at Doncaster in a time swifter than solid older sprinters later on the card.
He will have a lot more on his plate elevated to Group 1 company in the Commonwealth Cup but the son of two-time King’s Stand Stakes winner Equiano is a fascinating contender who fits into the “could be anything” bracket.
When: Hardwicke Stakes on Saturday
Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute. General odds: 2-1
Sir Michael Stoute went into Royal Ascot last year needing one more winner, a 76th, to become the most successful in the history of the great meeting.
He failed to achieve it, leaving him level with the late Sir Henry Cecil for another 12 months, but it will be a surprise if he suffers another blank.
Crystal Ocean split Capri and Stradivarius in the William Hill St Leger last year and this term has scooped Group 3 prizes at Sandown and Newbury. He will be a tough nut to crack in the Hardwicke Stakes and is presumably being aimed to the QIPCO-sponsored King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes back at Ascot next month.
When: Wokingham Stakes on Saturday
Trainer: John Gosden. General odds: 4-1
A Group horse in a handicap? Very possibly.
The beautifully bred Dreamfield, who cost 1,000,000 as a yearling, was unbeaten in two starts as a juvenile but missed last season after fracturing his pelvis.
His return last month, when easily winning a 15-runner handicap at Ascot when backed down to odds-on, suggests he will make up for lost time and he will line up in the Wokingham off an 8lb higher mark of 103.
It speaks volumes for the regard he is held in that he is also engaged in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes, plus Darley July Cup.