388 entries representing 10 countries have been received for the eight Group One races to be staged at Royal Ascot this year headlined by “America’s Horse,” California Chrome (Art Sherman) and the world’s best miler, Hong Kong’s Able Friend (John Moore).
The number of entries for the established seven Group One races (311) pretty much mirrors the number received in 2014 (309). However, with a bumper entry of 77 in the new Commonwealth Cup, by far the highest entry received for any Group One race at the Royal Meeting this year, no fewer than 388 entries have been taken in total, including a record number from France (46).
Entries for Royal Ascot have been received from the UK (237), Ireland (75), France (46), the USA (11), Australia (8), Hong Kong (4), Germany (3), Japan (2), Spain (1) and Sweden (1).
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes is shaping up as a truly international clash with 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, California Chrome, recently second in the Dubai World Cup, already in the UK ahead of the Royal Meeting, with a run in the Al Shaqab Lockinge at Newbury possible in mid-May first.
Spielberg (Kazuo Fujisawa), winner of the Group One Tenno Sho (Autumn) in November (defeating Japan’s Horse Of The Year Gentildonna in the process), is set to represent Japan whilst Criterion (David Hayes), winner of the Group One Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes at The Championships in Sydney earlier in the month, could carry the Australian flag.
Ireland’s emerging star, Free Eagle (Dermot Weld), Ascot regular and French stalwart Cirrus Des Aigles (Corine Barande-Barbe) and The Grey Gatsby (Kevin Ryan), trained in the UK to win the Irish Champion Stakes last year, are amongst a strong European contingent lying in wait.
The Queen Anne Stakes could feature a fascinating showdown between Able Friend and France’s recent winner of the Dubai Turf, Solow (Freddy Head). Also possibles are Lelouch (Kazuo Fujisawa) for Japan and last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile winner, Karakontie (Jonathan Pease), another strong option for France.
All eyes at the beginning of the week will be on Ireland’s Sole Power (Eddie Lynam), who will be bidding for an unprecedented third King’s Stand Stakes win. Opposition from Australia is set to come through Brazen Beau (Chris Waller) and Shamal Wind (Robert Smerdon), both Group One winners on their last starts. Undrafted (Wesley Ward) and Holy Lute (James Cassidy) have been entered for the USA and Gold-Fun (Richard Gibson) is in the race for Hong Kong.
Brazen Beau, Undrafted and Gold-Fun are also entered for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes along with Wandjina (Gai Waterhouse), winner of the Group One Australian Guineas, Not Listenin’tome (John Moore) and the fascinating Big Macher (Richard Baltas), a most unlucky fifth in the Dubai Golden Shaheen for the USA.
The King’s Stand Stakes and Diamond Jubilee Stakes are the first British legs of the Global Sprint Challenge, which continues with the Darley July Cup at Newmarket in July.
The Gold Cup features recent Dubai Gold Cup winner, Brown Panther (Tom Dascombe) along with QIPCO Long Distance Cup winner, Forgotten Rules (Dermot Weld), amongst an assembly of all the top emerging and established quality stayers in Europe.
The St James’s Palace Stakes and Coronation Stakes will likely as not provide a showdown for Europe’s top Classic generation milers, following the English, French and Irish Guineas and they could be joined by Americans Hootenanny and Luck of the Kitten (both Wesley Ward) in the St James’s Palace and by Miss Temple City (Graham Motion) in the Coronation.
Amongst the huge entry for the Commonwealth Cup are last year’s star two-year-old fillies, Anthem Alexander (Eddie Lynam) and Tiggy Wiggy (Richard Hannon), first and second in the 2014 Queen Mary Stakes; Coventry Stakes and Middle Park Stakes winner, The Wow Signal (John Quinn), and entries for the USA; Hootenanny, Luck of the Kitten and Sunset Glow (Wesley Ward). Of significant interest also are the two entries for Australia, who are Southern Hemisphere two-year-olds; Godolphin’s Holler (John O’Shea) and the unraced and soon to be unleashed Cyrus Rocks (Gai Waterhouse).
Guy Henderson, Chief Executive at Ascot, commented: “To have 10 countries represented at this initial stage is very pleasing, especially as there are star international names in the two races we most want to build as global events - the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and the Queen Anne Stakes.
“There is a long way to go, of course, but to have champions from the USA, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia either here or under serious consideration for Royal Ascot, where the very best from Europe including the powerhouses of Coolmore, Godolphin, Qatar Racing, Juddmonte and Al Shaqab naturally gravitate, is exactly where we would want to be in April. We are very grateful to all connections from home and abroad for providing the initial cast for what will hopefully be the racing event of the summer.”
Nick Smith, Head of Communications and International Racing at Ascot, added: “As much as the names of the horses, the names of the trainers pay testament to the lure of Royal Ascot as there are none more high profile in their respective homes than the likes of John Moore, Gai Waterhouse, Chris Waller and Kazuo Fujisawa, the latter pair who will be having their first Royal Ascot runners all being well. It is great too to see Wesley Ward aiming a big team at the meeting again.
“We are particularly delighted that of all the races, the new Commonwealth Cup has the most entries, rewarding the confidence of the responsible parties that there was a requirement for this race on the programme. To get American and Australian entries in year one is an added bonus.”
All 8 Group One races at Royal Ascot are part of the QIPCO British Champion Series.
Tickets for Royal Ascot 2015 start from £27 per person or from £21 for groups.