herald

Saturday 19 January 2019

Frankel set to storm palace

Cecil’s charge can step closer to greatness at Ascot

COMPARISONS between Royal Ascot and all big sporting events are made annually and while it's a line that is guilty of becoming stale, this week's Royal Ascot meeting could overshadow any that have gone before.

As always, it gets underway tomorrow with a six-race card, the first three of which are Group Ones and on offer is the best race mare of her generation in Goldikova, and the talking horse of the season so far, 2000 Guineas winner, FRANKEL.

This is just spectacular equine entertainment, spectacular sporting entertainment – it's simply not to be missed.

Frankel came into the season with a lofty reputation from his juvenile season and it was wondered if he could be the next to follow in the hoof steps of Sea The Stars and become a Guineas, then Derby and then Arc hero.

At Newmarket, though, in the 2000 Guineas, Frankel showed that he was all power and speed and in quite scintillating fashion he annihilated his rivals in the opening Classic of the season by making virtually all the running.

ANTICIPATION

Ever since, the mouth has been watering in anticipation of his next competitive appearance as Frankel could well become one of the greatest milers that we have ever seen. Even his routine pieces of work at home are reported to be out of this world.

Just days after he received a knighthood from the queen, Henry Cecil could celebrate that deserved achievement by sending his stable star out to win tomorrow's St James's Palace Stakes, and few are going to back against what is likely to be one of the shortest priced favourites of the week.

Frankel faces eight rivals, one of which is the sole Irish runner in the field, Zoffany, who has a lot of improvement to find if he is going to finish anywhere near the long odds-on favourite.

Richard Hannon and Richard Hughes have been frustratingly forced to settle for second place in both the Irish and English 2000 Guineas, and back for another crack at Frankel it may be a third consecutive runner-up placing for Dubawi Gold here tomorrow afternoon.

Hannon and Hughes will be hopeful of getting the day off to a good start in the Queen Anne Stakes, a race that could provide us with one of the best match-ups of the season.

horses were declared for the curtain-raiser of this year’s Royal Ascot and although the likes of Cape Blanco and Rio De La Platta are no bad yardsticks, this appears to be a twohorse race between CANFORD CLIFFS and the great Goldikova.

First of all, credit has to be given to Freddie Head and all connections of Goldikova for keeping the six-year-old in training and she has now won 16 of her 22 career starts, including her only start thus far this season in Group One company.

Twelve months ago, Goldikova came out on top against Paco Boy, another Hannon inmate and tomorrow she will have to get the better of four-time Group One-winning miler Canford Cliffs, who himself was victorious on the opening day of Royal Ascot last year by winning the St James's Palace.

There is little between the two but a chance is taken on last year’s Irish 2000 Guineas winner, Canford Cliffs, to come out narrowly on top in a race where a dead-heat would probably be a fitting result to what is sure to be an epic race.

Of the six Irish runners making the trip over tomorrow, two of them will line up in the five-furlong King's Stand Stakes where the speed will certainly be on and this is set to be a very wide open race.

Eddie Lynam's charge, SOLE POWER, proved that his Nunthorpe win last season at York was no fluke when he impressed last time out at Haydock, and although he has to step up again, he's worth siding with – once too much rain doesn't fall.

Sole Power is one of the better Irish chances of the day, and even of the week, but punters will be hoping that Aidan O'Brien's POWER can claim the Coventry Stakes later in the afternoon.

A massive field of 23 runners go to post for the six-furlong juvenile event and a total of 17 of them won last time out and only four have not won at all so far.

American trainer Wesley Ward goes after more Royal Ascot success having taken the place by storm a couple of seasons ago, while there are a number of two-time winners in the race who have big reputations across the Irish Sea.

However, Power was a gutsy winner last time out and is expected to come on further for that run and should run a very big race for O'Brien and Ryan Moore.

Punters should tread with caution in the concluding Windsor Castle Stakes, where again Wesley Ward may have one to follow in Gentlemans Code - if the rain doesn't get into the ground too much, while Magic City and FREDERICK ENGELS will be dangerous.

Willie Mullins sends over RATTAN for the Ascot Stakes – having not ran on the Flat for almost two years – and the booking of Richard Hughes is a big plus.

At a decent price, you couldn't be put off backing him each-way but Cheltenham Festival winner Junior has been well supported to follow on his win in this race last year and win back-to-back renewals for David Pipe with Ryan Moore this time in the saddle.

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