Dubai: Royal Ascot, the most anticipated flat racing meeting on this planet, which attracts the sport’s leading horses, jockeys and trainers, is almost upon us with some mouth-watering contests on the cards.
Held over five days from Tuesday to Saturday British racing’s summer highlight features 30 high-quality races including 18 Group races.
The actions features some traditional rivalry between the world’s powerhouse stables and this year’s renewal looks no different.
UAE-owned horses have been successfully campaigned at the meeting with the likes of Godolphin, the private racing stable created by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, enjoying several success over the years.
Rich in history, heritage and fashion, the Festival kicks-off in spectacular style, literally, on Tuesday with the Royal Procession, which is one of the great traditions of British racing.
The opening day features three Group One races — the Queen Anne Stakes, the King’s Stand Stakes and the St James’s Palace Stakes, which make of a thrilling start to what promises to be an action and fun-filled five days at the historic racecourse.
Day two offers fans a breather with a slightly less high-energy card where the Prince of Wales’s Stakes run over 2,000 metres is the showpiece race. The card is supported by the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes and the Queen Mary Stakes.
Thursday’s racing is highlight by the historic Gold Cup, the most prestigious race of the year for stayers, which is run over a shade less than two and a half miles. Thursday is also famous as being ‘Ladies Day’ where racegoers try t impress in designer clothes and millinery masterpieces.
Friday inclues two Group 1 races, the As the Commonwealth Cupand Coronation Stakes while the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes is the showpiece on the final day.
How they stack up:
Although the £600,000 Queen Anne Stakes, the first of three Group 1 races on the opening day, looks a rather open contest, Mustashry has solid claims going by his decisive victory in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last month. He faces several strong rivals led by Irish-trained Le Brivido who looks a genuine threat.
Verdict: Mustashry to assert his supremacy once again.
Despite finishing four lengths behind Mustashry in the Lockinge, the former French-trained Le Brivido has thrived since joining Aidan O’Brien’s in-form Irish stable. He caught the eye when staying on well at the closing stages in that race. Relatively unexposed, he is held in high regard by three-time Queen Anne winning handler O’Brien.
Verdict: May have to play second fiddle to Mustashry.
Godolphin’s sprint star absolutely loves the track at Ascot where he has posted three wins, including a 1 3/4 length beating of Battaash in the King’s Stand Stakes last season. Scored a hat-trick of wins at Meydan earlier this year. Makes his UK debut for 3019.
Verdict: Needs a big run.
Should he bring his “A Game” to Royal Ascot, Battaash will be very hard to beat. Never won at Ascot but looks in good form as evidenced by his recent victory in the G2 Temple Stakes at Haydock. A seasoned sprinter he is the market leader to take the spoils.
Verdict: Big chance.