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Royal Ascot Week

Royal Ascot‘s opening day is Tuesday, starting things off with the Queen Anne Stakes — for those new to Royal Ascot, the race is for 4-year-olds and up over a mile. Haradasun (pictured), the Australian son of Fusaichi Pegasus (and half-brother to champion Elvstroem), will shortly be retiring to stud, so this race will be a last chance to see him. This is no walkover, however (even though he has a rabbit in Honoured Guest) – top fillies Darjina and Finsceal Beo will certainly make him work for any victory, as will hard-knocking 7-year-old Cesare who keeps just missing out on Group 1 victories.

The British leg of the Global Sprint Challenge is the King’s Stand Stakes (3 year-olds and up over 5 furlongs) which offers an opportunity for Takeover Target to cement his reputation; fellow Aussie Magnus is also in the mix — this will be his final race meet before heading off to stud. South Africa and Spain are also represented in the race by the mare National Colour and Equiano (a 3-year-old French-bred colt), respectively. Locally-trained entrants include Kingsgate Native (who won against older horses as a 2-year-old in the Nunthorpe) and Godolphin’s Abraham Lincoln, a 4-year old by Danehill. Fleeting Spirit, last year’s outstanding 2-year-old filly, will also be heavily favored.

Henrythenavigator (who skipped the Derby due to the soft ground) stars in the St James’s Palace Stakes (3-year-olds, 1 mile); his main competition should come from Rio de la Plata (if he is fit – he was reported to be a little sore after the French 2000 Guineas) and Falco (the French 2000 Guineas winner) — North American readers may be interested to know both colts are US-bred.

The Coventry Stakes (2-year-olds, 6 furlongs) is a bit more of a shot in the dark but Peter Tchaikovsky (by Dansili, so carrying that strong Hasili blood) has a win so far and Art Connoisseur is being touted as one to watch.

The Ascot Stakes itself is one of a sort we rarely see carded in the US; it’s a 2 mile and 4 furlong handicap race for 4-year-olds and up. I am leaning toward the German-bred mare Power of Future (largely because German-breds seem to want to run all day).

The Windsor Castle Stakes (2-year-olds, 5 furlongs) is another opportunity to see future stars in the making; Brae Hill and the filly Moss Likely seem like solid choices, although given the large field, anything can happen.

If, indeed, Curlin does head to the Arc, some of his toughest competition will be on show during the next week — so set your TiVos now.

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