Frankel set to steal the show
A TOTAL of 15 Irish-trained horses head across to Royal Ascot for the opening day of proceedings tomorrow, but regardless of what any of their trainers think, it is opening race favourite Frankel who is likely to steal the show.
When Frankel won the St James's Palace Stakes on the opening day of this meeting last year, you would have got a fairly generous price that he'd be back to run on the opening day of the Royal meeting for a third year in a row.
Frankel remains unbeaten, but, more importantly, remains in training as connections opted against retiring him to stud at the end of last season.
In tomorrow's opening Queen Anne Stakes, Frankel remains at a mile, the move to step him up in trip will come later in the season, and the bookmakers have priced him up as a 1/6 shot to see off Excelebration yet again and nine others including other Ballydoyle representative Windsor Palace.
There shall be no beating the monster that is Frankel and probably only the Queen rocking on to Ascot in a Union Jack bikini would steal the limelight away from Henry Cecil's stable star tomorrow, so on that reckoning, I think Frankel looks set to dominate.
The Irish raid on Ascot's opening day is an interesting one. The aforementioned duo of Excelebration and Windsor Palace are clearly fighting it out for minor honours in the first, but we have strong representation in the St James's Palace.
Aidan O'Brien's Power comes here on the back of his Irish 2000 Guineas success where he will renew his rivalry with John Oxx's Born To Sea.
There will be a day when Born To Sea will land a big pot and do the family name proud. Of course, he is a half brother to the legendary Sea The Stars, and don't be surprised if things fall right for him tomorrow and he runs a big race.
The hood worked almost too well when applied to Born To Sea at the Curragh and he finished well. The hood is reapplied tomorrow and the John Oxx team couldn't be in any better form.
The Ballydoyle runner Cristoforo Colombo has been well backed in the Coventry Stakes since betting opened last week, but if the Navan maiden winner is to claim Group Two honours on just his second start he will have to overcome Jim Bolger's favourite Dawn Approach.
The son of New Approach is three from three in what has been an impressive career to date and Jim Bolger has said that it will be a very good one to beat him, and Bolger's word is a good one.
Of course, it would be wrong not to mention the very consistent Sole Power who will be hoping to shrug off his bout of seconditis in the King's Stand Stakes for Eddie Lynam and Johnny Murtagh.
The fastest Irish horse in training is already a Group One sprinter but is without a win since last year's Temple Stakes at Haydock and this would be a nice way to return to winning ways.
Willie Mullins has booked the services of Ryan Moore for Simenon in the Ascot Stakes, the same race that sees John Queally and Pat Flynn also go for with Elyaadi and Scots Gaelic, while Tommy Stack's Dylanbaru and Aidan O'Brien's Parliament Square head for the concluding Windsor Castle Stakes.
Royal Ascot is undoubtedly the best week of the year for Flat racing, tomorrow it could be more special than ever as Frankel comes to town, and that is something to savour for all racing fans.
Hopefully, he'll be joined on the winners list with some of the strong Irish challengers.