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We all know our own racing venues pretty well, but keeping track of international racing to the same degree can really be a challenge. This year at Royal Ascot 2012, the stars of thoroughbred racing are aligned — Frankel, Black Caviar, So You Think, Fame and Glory, St. Nicholas Abbey, Helmet, Sepoy, Ortensia and a host of other elite thoroughbreds whose names are less familiar to many.

This article reviews some of the top horses and their connections who are slated to run at Royal Ascot next week. The content is designed to keep our readers on top of all the key information as it is known at this time. The goal is to provide VAULT readers with an informed viewing context. 

We doubt that readers will digest all of the content in one sitting, so the article will remain posted until Wednesday, June 20th for those who might want to visit again before specific races, or read up on some of the winners. Then, on Wednesday Part Two will be posted and cover the remainder of Thursday at Ascot, as well as Friday and Saturday.

NOTE REGARDING ROYAL ASCOT COVERAGE IN N. AMERICA: TVG begins its live coverage of Royal Ascot on Tuesday, June 19th and HRTV will provide re-caps in the evening throughout Royal Ascot, for those who won’t be able to tune-in for the live coverage. Just check SCHEDULE on the HRTV home page. If you’re not on HRTV, the UK’s Racing Post has a ROYAL ASCOT page where all of the races will be shown, though probably after the fact. (Not entirely sure whether the live stream is available without registering.) As well, there is the UK site, At The Races. Just go to this address and click on the VIDEO tab. Most races will be posted, although not in real time. The e-address is: http://www.attheraces.com/ascot 

Too, Blood-Horse, DRF, Thoroughbred Times, The Paulick Report and other popular North American racing websites will likely post the results of the most prestigious races the same or next day. In Canada, CBC Television televises Royal Ascot on June 23 for one hour only (sigh!) from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. (We’re assuming that Black Caviar’s run will feature, as well as Frankel’s.)


RACE CARD

In the UK, the racing program is referred to as a “race card.” As of today, the cards still reflect all the horses who’ve been nominated. Coolmore-Ballydoyle’s So You Think, for example, is listed in more than one race.  Below is the schedule for the full  5 days of Royal Ascot 2012, courtesy of the UK’s Racing Post. Entries in each race should be finalized about 24 hours before the race. If you refer to the Racing Post link (above) there is a section labelled CARDS that will be updated and tell you exactly who is running on the day.

Upcoming races at Royal Ascot 2012

ASCOT – Tue 19 June

Upcoming races at Royal Ascot 2012

ASCOT – Tue 19 June

View all these cards on one page

2:30 Queen Anne Stakes (British Champions Series) (Group 1) 1m BBC1
3:05 King´s Stand Stakes (British Champions Series & Global Sprint Challenge) (Group 1) 5f BBC1
3:45 St James´s Palace Stakes (British Champions Series) (Group 1) (Entire Colts) 1m BBC2
4:25 Coventry Stakes (Group 2) 6f BBC2
5:00 Ascot Stakes (Handicap) 2m4f BBC2
5:35 Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed Race) 5f BBCi
Final declarations will be available 48hrs in advance

ASCOT – Wed 20 June

View all these cards on one page

2:30 Jersey Stakes (Group 3) 7f BBC1
3:05 Windsor Forest Stakes (Group 2) (Fillies & Mares) 1m BBC1
3:45 150th Anniversary of Prince of Wales´s Stakes (British Champions Series) (Group 1) 1m2f BBC2
4:25 Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap) 1m BBC2
5:00 Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2) (Fillies) 5f BBC2
5:35 Sandringham Handicap (Listed Race) (Fillies) 1m BBCi
Final declarations will be available 48hrs in advance

ASCOT – Thu 21 June

View all these cards on one page

2:30 Norfolk Stakes (Group 2) 5f BBC1
3:05 Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2) (Fillies) 1m4f BBC1
3:45 Gold Cup (British Champions Series) (Group 1) 2m4f BBC2
4:25 Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap) (Colts & Geldings) 1m BBC2
5:00 Tercentenary Stakes (Group 3) 1m2f BBC2
5:35 King George V Stakes (Handicap) 1m4f BBCi
Entries for all Thursday’s races will be available 5 days in advance

ASCOT – Fri 22 June

View all these cards on one page

2:30 Albany Stakes (Group 3) (Fillies) 6f
3:05 King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2) (Colts & Geldings) 1m4f
3:45 Coronation Stakes (British Champions Series) (Group 1) (Fillies) 1m
4:25 Wolferton Handicap (Listed Race) 1m2f
5:00 Queen´s Vase (Group 3) 2m
5:35 Buckingham Palace Stakes (Handicap) 7f
Entries for all Friday’s races will be available 5 days in advance

ASCOT – Sat 23 June

View all these cards on one page

2:30 Chesham Stakes (Listed Race) 7f –
3:05 Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2) 1m4f
3:45 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (British Champions Series & Global Sprint Challenge) (Group 1) 6f
4:25 Wokingham Stakes (Heritage Handicap) 6f
5:00 Duke of Edinburgh Stakes (Handicap) 1m4f –
5:35 Queen Alexandra Stakes (Conditions Race) 2m5f159y –

FRANKEL

Frankel and his regular jockey, Tom Queally.

First up is the undefeated FRANKEL (Galileo) who runs on Tuesday in the 1-mile Queen Anne Stakes. This will be Frankel’s first race at a mile. The brilliant 4 year-old will be taken on by 3 from Coolmore-Ballydoyle (Aidan O’Brien): Excelebration (Exceed and Excel) whom Frankel has already beaten, champion So You Think (High Chaparral) and 7 year-old Windsor Palace (Danehill Dancer). Australia’s Helmet (Exceed and Excel) has also been nominated, but may start against Black Caviar in the Diamond Jubilee instead. Should he run against Frankel, Helmet is not to be underestimated. He was a 2 year-old superstar in Australia and has continued his winning ways, albeit erratically because he tends to act up on race day and ruin his own chances. But he has the speed and, if he’s sharp, the determination. Frankel will have his half-brother Bullet Train (Sadler’s Wells) in there too. Bullet Train has raced with the champ twice and tends to play the role of pacesetter, even though he’s a very good colt in his own right.

Here’s trainer, Sir Henry Cecil, talking about his colt’s chances:

BLACK CAVIAR

Black Caviar and jockey, Luke Nolan.

Arguably, the other superstar to grace the turf at Royal Ascot 2012 is Australia’s Black Caviar. She will have her regular jockey, Luke Nolan, in the irons and we assume that Peter Moody, her trainer, will also be present — Moody is currently training his great mare from afar, relying on modern technology to watch her works each day. (Nolan has landed Medicean Man in the King’s Stand on Tuesday and may pick up more mounts prior to the Diamond Jubilee.) At the present time, 57 horses have been nominated to go up against the undefeated mare in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on the last day of the meet, Saturday, June 23rd. That number will change as we get closer to race day, so be sure to check the race card on the Racing Post site. At present, Black Caviar’s rivals include 4 from Aidan O’Brien: Power (Oasis Dream), Reply (Oasis Dream) and the fillies After (Danehill Dancer) and Wave (Dansili). And as if that’s not enough, there’s Society Rock (Rock of Gibraltar), a colt who won this race at Ascot last year and loves the going there. Too, Australia’s Helmet is also nominated, as is Roger Charlton’s Bated Breath (Dansili). Charlton is rated 4th best trainer in the UK and feels his colt’s chances against the Aussie heroine are better than good. These last 3 have also been nominated in other Royal Ascot races, so there may be defections.

Still, as the Australian racing community sees it, their superstar mare will make all of the running, even though she’s had to travel halfway around the world to do it.

We start our video line-up with Black Caviar’s arrival at Newmarket, followed by a look at Society Rock’s trainer, James Fanshawe and then wind up with pre-race ditties and analysis, courtesy of TVN Racing Network (Australia) under the title “Black Caviar’s Destiny.” Note the ties sported by announcer Bruce Clark and analyst Mick Sharkey — TOO CUTE!

THE KING’S STAND STAKES (Tuesday, June 19)

The King’s Stand is going to be very competitive this year and we might expect several defections from the Diamond Jubilee to run, since it is also a sprint. Chief among these might be the promising Bated Breath (Dansili). Ortensia (Testa Rossa) who has already had 30 starts and is 11-3-4 is going to be a contender for certain: the 7 year-old Aussie mare is on a winning streak, having just completed a hat-trick of victories, including a come from behind effort in the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan.  Other horses of interest include Little Bridge (Faltaat) who has had 19 starts, winning the last 2, Sole Power (Kyllachy) who has a track record of 24-4-5-4 and might be sitting on a big effort and Tangerine Trees, who has won 12 of 35 starts and won twice the last 3 times out. Of interest: Luke Nolan (Black Caviar’s regular jockey) rides Medicean Man.

The lovely Ortensia, a 7 year-old Australian mare, is one of the favourites in this race.

Here’s the great Ortensia, pulling a Zenyatta and winning the Al Quoz Sprint recently at Meydan:

ST. JAMES’S PALACE STAKES  (Tuesday, June 19)

This prestigious race features a few familiar names from Coolmore-Ballydoyle: Daddy Long Legs (also nominated for the King Edward VII on Friday, June 23), Power (Oasis Dream) and Wrote (High Chaparral). Another starter from trainer Aidan O’Brien is Requisition (Invincible Spirit) who is lightly raced and has won his last 2 starts. The brilliant Lucayan (Turtle Bay) also looks to be running in the St. James; he’s also won his last 2 starts and can be counted on to be very well placed early in the race. William Haggas has Nine Realms (Green Desert) nominated here as well and he’s another lightly raced colt who won the last time out. Green Desert was a fabulous sire and Nine Realms could be described as promising. For Street Cry fans, Fencing, trained by the incomparable John Gosden also looks to be starting in the St. James.

Lucayan, shown here winning the Poule d’Essai des Poulins at Longchamps (France) earlier this year.

Here is Lucayan winning at Longchamp:

COVENTRY STAKES FOR 2 YEAR-OLDS (Tuesday, June 19)

The babies are on-track late in the day for the running of the Coventry Stakes. Of interest here are Annnunciation (Proclamation), Artigiano (Distorted Humour) who will have Godolphin’s skilled Frankie Dettori aboard, William Haggas’ Odooj (Pivotal) who is also nominated for the Windsor Castle (earlier on the same day), Richard Hannon’s Jalaa (Street Cry) and 2 from Coolmore-Ballydoyle: Lines of Battle (War Front) and Pedro the Great (Henrythenavigator). Given their age and experience, it’s really anyone’s race!

The fabulous Street Cry, captured here by Australian photographer extraordinaire, Bronwen Healy.

Claiborne’s War Front also finds himself represented at Royal Ascot in the Coventry Stakes.

WINDSOR CASTLE STAKES for 2 year-olds (Tuesday, June 19)

The wonderful stallion, Pivotal, is one of the UK’s leading sires.

Young sire, Acclamation, is starting to make his mark.

The last race on the Tuesday card again highlights promising 2 year-olds. Aidan O’Brien brings Gale Force Ten (Oasis Dream) and Parliament Square (Acclamation), while famed trainer, Richard Hannon, has loaded the race with 7 nominated colts: Alhebayeb (Dark Angel), Annunciation (Proclamation), Ask Dad (Intikhab), Ceelo (Green Desert), Lyric Ace (Thousand Words), Master of War (Compton Place) and Mister Marc (Acclamation). One would not overlook trainer William Haggas’ Odooj, a son of Pivotal, one of the UK’s truly outstanding sires.

British trainer William Haggas has the distinction of being Lester Piggott’s son-in-law. But far more impressive — for a trainer with a modest number of horses at the turn of the century —  is the fact that he has a 100% success rate in the the Epsom Derby and the Investic Oaks; he won the Derby with long shot Shaamit (Mtoto) in  1996 and came back again with the great filly, Dancing Rain (Danehill Dancer) to win the Oaks in 2011.  Below is an interview with Haggas that focuses on his 2012 Royal Ascot hopes, including Roy & Gretchen Jackson’s (Barbaro) filly, Sentaril.

150th Anniversary running of the Prince of Wales Stakes (Wednesday, June 20)

A highlight in this race, at least for any who has yet to see him, is HRH the Queen’s champion colt, Carlton House.  The son of Street Cry out of Talented (Bustino) is lightly raced at 4, although 2 of his three wins have come in stakes races. Trained by Sir Michael Stoute,  Carlton House is bound to be the sentimental favourite in this Jubilee year. UPDATE: So You Think has been confirmed for this race and it may set up as quite the dual!

The absolutely gorgeous Carlton House (Street Cry) owned by HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

QUEEN MARY STAKES: 2 YO FILLIES  (WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20)

It would be fair to say that this 5-furlong race will be hotly contested since, as of today, well over a dozen of these babies have wins, places or shows already chalked up. But, they are babies. Which means that almost any of them stand a decent chance of winning.

If you’re looking for a North American connection, Smart Strike’s Madame Mojito, bred at Lane’s End, is 2 for 2. Star Up In The Sky is a daughter of Speightstown who has only run once before and came in a respectably 4th. And there’s also Jadanna, a daughter of Mujadil (USA), who is also 2 for 2.

The great Smart Strike, pictured here at his home, Lane’s End, in Versailles, Kentucky. His daughter, Madame Mojito, runs on Wednesday at Royal Ascot.

Other fillies that might sparkle include: Lady Phill (4 starts and never out of the money); JillNextDoor, a daughter of Henrythenavigator who is 2 for 2; a very good daughter of Pivotal with the unenviable name Hairy Rocket; a daughter of Tagula called Projectisle who is 2-1-1-0, as are the fillies Miss Diva (Acclamation) and Satsuma (Compton Place). Upward Spiral (Teofilo/BM sire Fantastic Light) comes in undefeated, with a maiden under her belt.

Sire Speightstown’s Star Up In The Sky may be poised to break her maiden at Royal Ascot in the Queen Mary Stakes.

RIBBLESDALE STAKES FOR FILLIES  (THURSDAY, JUNE 21)

This race is setting up to look very much like a re-play of the 2012 Investic Oaks, with most of the principals nominated to start as of today.

We should also mention that Coolmore-Ballydoyle (Aidan O’Brien) have no less than five GALILEO fillies nominated for the Ribblesdale: Was (winner of this year’s Oaks), Maybe (brilliant winner for her sire, having only lost twice in 7 starts), Kissed (2 for 2), Twirl (who is 5-1-2-1 and whose BM sire is none other than Storm Cat) and Up (6-1-2-1).

The brilliant Maybe, Joseph O’Brien up.

Other stars who ran extremely well in the Oaks and are entered in the Ribblesdale include Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s lovely filly, The Fugue (Dansili) who, despite a troubled trip was closing like an express train to finish third in the Oaks. Trained by the brilliant John Gosden, we can expect a great run from her. The Fugue’s race record to date is  4-2-0-1.

The Fugue, an exquisite filly with the heart of a lion, can be expected to run big in the Ribblesdale.

Another filly to watch, who ran second in the Oaks, is Shirocco Star (Shirocco). Then there is William Haggas’ Vow (Motivator) who, if she runs, will be looking to improve a rather disappointing performance in the Oaks.

Here’s the running of the 2012 Investic Oaks — a kind of “dress rehearsal” for the Ribblesdale, as it turns out. Note the effort from The Fugue in particular. Shirocco Star is also a contender.

NOTE: Remember to tune in next week on Wednesday, June 20 for PART TWO (Royal Ascot racing from Thursday, June 21 – Saturday, June 23)

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