Ascot, England: A record number of overseas entries from eight countries feature among a total of 394 entries for the eight Group One highlights at Royal Ascot in June this year.
There are 164 overseas entries in all, as against a previous best of 156 in 2013, including a record 35 from outside Europe (previous highest 27 in 2011).
There is representation from Ireland (81), France (44), the USA (18 - the highest ever level - previous highest 13 in 2011), Australia (9), Germany (4), Hong Kong (4), Japan (2) and Singapore (2), plus 230 British-trained entries.
The European challenge in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes is led by last year’s winner Solow (Freddy Head FR) and Coronation Stakes scorer Ervedya (Jean Claude-Rouget FR). Australian import Vancouver is one of four entries for Ireland’s champion Flat trainer Aidan O’Brien, while A Shin Erwin (Hidemasa Nakao JPN) and Godolphin’s Australian-trained Bow Creek (John O’Shea, AUS) are two other possibles.
A Shin Hikari (Masanori Sakaguchi JPN) is set to fly the flag for Japan in the 10-furlong Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (39 entries), worth £750,000 (Dh3.95 million), on the second day, Wednesday, June 15 while Breeders’ Cup Turf heroine Found (Aidan O’Brien IRE) and Champion Stakes victor Fascinating Rock (Dermot Weld IRE) head a strong European contingent in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.
The £600,000 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (44 entries) could see a fascinating clash between top Australian sprinter Chautauqua (John Hawkes AUS) and last year’s winner Undrafted (Wesley Ward USA).
There is also very strong international interest in the opening day’s £400,000 King’s Stand Stakes (59 entries) over five furlongs, in which Irish stalwart Sole Power (Eddie Lynam IRE may bid for an unprecedented third victory.
Group One scorer Japonisme (Chris Waller - also entered in the Diamond Jubilee) heads three Australian contenders, while Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint scorer Mongolian Saturday (Enebish Ganbat USA - also entered in the Diamond Jubilee) is among eight entries from the USA.
There could be representation from the Far East courtesy of Not Listenin’tome (John Moore HK - also entered in the Diamond Jubilee) and Kiwi Karma (Michael Clements, SING).
The 59 entries for the £400,000 Commonwealth Cup will be hoping to emulate last year’s winner Muharaar who went on to be crowned European champion sprinter following a Group One four-timer.
Aidan O’Brien holds a strong hand in both the mile contests for three-year-olds, with Air Force Blue headlining 56 entries for the St James’ Palace Stakes (Tuesday, June 14) and Minding among 54 entries for the Coronation Stakes (Friday, June 17), with each having £400,000 in prize money.
Melbourne Cup runner-up Max Dynamite (Willie Mullins IRE), Order Of St George (Aidan O’Brien IRE) and St Leger heroine Simple Verse (Ralph Beckett) star among 42 entries for the £400,000 Gold Cup In Honour Of The Queen’s 90th Birthday over two and a half miles on Thursday, June 16.
Nick Smith, Director of Racing and Communications at Ascot, said: “It is gratifying to see numbers up generally and record international entries, but what really counts in the later respect is quality and spread.
“To have one of Japan’s leading middle-distance horses in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes once again is tremendous; Chautauqua is most people’s idea of the world’s top sprinter and headlines several high profile Australian entries; Tepin’s record speaks for itself and she is really picking up the public’s attention home and abroad; Wesley Ward has many more Group One entries than before including in the Commonwealth Cup, which was such a welcome addition to the card last year.
“Our thanks naturally go to all the owners and trainers with entries at Royal Ascot, for whom a warm welcome awaits.”
Ascot Racecourse announced in January that Royal Ascot prize money has been increased by £1 million (18% uplift on 2015) this year, bringing total prize money on offer to a record £6,580,000 over the week, Tuesday, June 14 to Saturday, June 18.
The three main prize money boosts were for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes - £750,000 from £525,000, the Queen Anne Stakes - £600,000 from £375,000 and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes - £600,000 from £525,000.