Dubai: Dubai-owned runners look to have serious claims as Royal Ascot, British racing’s sporting highlight of the summer, begins behind closed doors on Tuesday.
Unfortunately due to COVID-19 this year’s event will feature no Royal procession, no top hats nor fascinators, and no trophy presentations. But the quality of racing remains at its very best.
Both Godolphin, the stable created by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, are well represented in the seven-race card which features a pair of scintillating Group 1 contests and three Group 2s.
The Queen Anne Stakes has been a favourite target for Godolphin, who have won the mile contest on no less than eight occasions, while Sheikh Hamdan has won it twice with Waajib in 1988 and Lahib in 1992.
Godolphin rely on the John Gosden-trained filly Terebellum - ridden by Frankie Dettori - who comes up against the males for the first time in her career having produced an eye-catching performance two weeks earlier when landing the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket.
Commenting on the daughter of Sea The Stars’ chances, Gosden told the Godolphin website: “Terebellum won well at Newmarket and has a lot of speed. I think a straight, stiff mile will suit her and she has been in great form since the Dahlia Stakes.”
Sheikh Hamdan meanwhile has three contenders in the race including Mutamaasik (Jim Crowley), Motakhayyel (Dane O’Neill) and outsider Turjomaan (David Egan).
However, the horse who will take all the beating is Circus Maximus, last year’s St James’s Palace Stakes hero, who will be ridden by big-race jockey Ryan Moore.
Run over a straight five furlongs, the King’s Stand Stakes, is the equivalent of the 100 metres at the Olympics and takes a very, very fast horse to win it.
Godolphin, who won the last two running’s of the race with Blue Point, have no representatives in the race this year, leaving Sheikh Hamdan’s star sprinter, Battaash as the Dubai flag-bearer.
Sheikh Hamdan is looking for a second King’s Stand trophy having last won the race back in 1990 with Dayjur.
Battaash is yet to win at the venue having finished second in the last two running’s of the race behind Blue Point.
There is no denying his natural speed considering Battaash smashed the course record at York when winning the Nunthorpe Stakes last August.
His trainer, Charlie Hills, also saddles Equilateral, who ran twice in Dubai during the winter.
Sheikh Hamdan can land a Royal Ascot double should Nazeef reproduce the form that saw her edge out Billesdon Brook in the Snowdrop Fillies’ Stakes at Kempton earlier this month.
Trained by John Gosden Nazeef won three of her starts last season but was taking a jump up in level in this mile event.
Royal Ascot at a Glance
Day 1 (All races times UAE)
4.15pm: Buckingham Palace Handicap (3yo+), 7f, 24 runners
Latest odds: 13/2 Daarik, 8/1 Kaeso, 9/1 Mutamaasik, 12/1 Motakhayyel, 14/1 Cliffs Of Capri, 16/1 Blown By Wind, Brian Epstein, First Contact, Glen Shiel, Greenside, Keyser Soze, Straight Right, 20/1 Flaming Spear, Hey Jonesy, Jack’s Point, Lethal Lunch, War Glory, 25/1 Documenting, Ebury, Firmament, Gifted Master, Habub, Silent Attack, 33/1 Alexander James, Dirty Rascal, So Beloved, 40/1 Shelir.
4.50pm: Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1) 1m, 16 runners
Latest Odds: 5/2 Circus Maximus, 4/1 Terebellum, 8/1 Duke Of Hazzard, Fox Chairman, 12/1 Mohaather, Mustashry, Roseman, Skardu, 14/1 Space Traveller, 16/1 Billesdon Brook, Plumatic, Turjomaan, 33/1 Marie’s Diamond, 40/1 Accidental Agent, Bless Him, Escobar.
5.25pm: Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2) 1m4f, 11 runners
Latest Odds: 7/4 Frankly Darling, 5/1 Miss Yoda, Trefoil, 13/2 Born With Pride, 8/1 Passion, 10/1 Ennistymon, 20/1 Hold Fast, West End Girl, 25/1 Golden Lips, 33/1 Anastarsia, Bharani Star, So I Told You.
6pm: King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2) 1m4f, 6 runners
Latest Odds: 8/11 Mogul, 4/1 Mohican Heights, 6/1 Arthur’s Kingdom, 7/1 Papa Power, 16/1 Pyledriver, 25/1 Sound Of Cannons.
6.35pm: King’s Stand Stakes (Group 1) 5f, 11 runners
4/7 Battaash, 9/2 Glass Slippers, 12/1 Liberty Beach, 14/1 Equilateral, 20/1 Shades Of Blue, 25/1 Kurious, Tis Marvellous, 28/1 Well Done Fox, 40/1 Rocket Action, Sergei Prokofiev, 50/1 Hit The Bid.
7.10pm: Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (Group 2) 1m, 11 runners
Latest Odds: 3/1 Nazeef, 7/2 Jubiloso, 5/1 Miss O Connor, 6/1 Lavender’s Blue, 7/1 Queen Power, 8/1 Wasmya, 9/1 Magic Lily, 16/1 Invitational, 33/1 Agincourt, Posted, 100/1 Iconic Choice.
7.40pm: Ascot Stakes Handicap, 2m4f, 20 runners
Latest Odds: 7/2 Verdana Blue, 9/1 Moon King, 10/1 Land Of estOz, Summer Moon, 11/1 Diocletian, 12/1 Dubawi Fifty, Pianissimo, 14/1 Blue Laureate, Coeur De Lion, San Benedeto, Smart Champion, 16/1 Mancini, Quloob, Rochester House, 25/1 Charlie D, Fair Mountain, 33/1 Ashutor, Carntop, Cliffs Of Dooneen, Yaa Salaam.