Frankel tops Ascot entries
The entries for the opening day of Royal Ascot were revealed yesterday and, unsurprisingly, they failed to disappoint.
Sensational English 2000 Guineas winner Frankel headed the field in the St James's Palace Stakes, for which 12 others were put forward at the six-day forfeit stage.
Henry Cecil's much-hyped Classic winner oozed so much speed in his Guineas win that connections naturally opted against stepping him up to the Derby trip of 1m4f and he will not stick to a mile for now where he is likely to go off a very short-priced favourite next week.
On official ratings, David Simcock's Dream Ahead is on the same mark as Frankel but that is puzzling after Frankel was seven-lengths clear of him when they met last season, and Simcock's three-year-old has yet to appear this season.
Dual Guineas runner up Dubawi Gold, who filled the runner-up spot at Newmarket and The Curragh, is also among the entries and likely to take his chance, while Aidan O'Brien is represented by Alexander Pope and Zoffany.
The superb week of racing gets under way with the Group One Queen Anne Stakes, for which eight names currently stand their ground, and the fascinating clash of super mare Goldikova and Canford Cliffs looks set to start the week.
Freddie Head's six-year-old and Richard Hannon's four-year-old will be joined by Aidan O'Brien's Cape Blanco in what is likely to be one of the races of the week, if not even the year.
Ireland has three possible representatives in the five-furlong King's Stand Stakes with Arctic, Sole Power and Sing Softly among 21 entries.
Irish hopes are high for the week and Jamie Spencer is looking forward to partnering O'Brien's former Irish Derby winner Fame And Glory in the Ascot Gold Cup.
The pair landed the Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown last month although, after that, Rite Of Passage was the eye-catcher from that race for many people.
The latter's participation is now in doubt and Spencer said: "Until he actually runs over two-and-a-half miles, nobody can say he is or isn't going to stay but he travels well, settles well and has a strong stamina pedigree."
Of the Leopardstown win, he said: "He cruised into the race and only beats what is put in front of him. At the end of the day, I was happy, Aidan was happy and that's all that matters really."
Another recent Leopardstown winner was the Charles O'Brien-trained Bewitched and she is set to try and follow up that victory in the Golden Jubliee Stakes on the final day of the meeting.
O'Brien admitted: "Her form fits in well with taking her chance in a race like that -- I went through the entries and couldn't find anything to put me off running her."