Frankel headlines Day One of Royal Ascot

June 18, 2012 at 6:27 PM
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ASCOT, England, June 18 (UPI) -- The Diamond Jubilee edition of Royal Ascot kicks off Tuesday with its very first race perhaps its best.

Unless, that is, you are Australian. In that case, the best race of the five-day meeting will be its final Group 1 event Saturday.

Explanation: Frankel, the world's top-rated thoroughbred, will be shooting for his 11th straight win without a loss in Tuesday's Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at 1 mile. Saturday, the world's top-rated sprinter, Aussie superstar Black Caviar, is to make her first start outside the island continent in quest of her 22nd win without defeat in the 6-furlong Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

First things first. Frankel, on his game, looks unbeatable in the Queen Anne. Ten others are set to give it a go with Excelebration the second pick by the local oddsmakers -- and a long shot for all of that. Frankel already has bested Excelebration four times, most recently by 5 lengths in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last month.

Nonetheless, Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Frankel's owner, Khalid Abdullah, reminded all parties there is a reason they run these races.

With one eye apparently on the European soccer championships, he said of Frankel's chances in the Queen Anne: "Everyone thinks everything is a penalty kick. But I don't know of a Group 1 that is a penalty kick, even for Frankel."

The Queen Anne is only one of three Group 1 races on the Day 1 card for the royal meeting. In the 5-furlong King's Stand Stakes, Australian hope Ortensia will warm up the ground for Black Caviar's later run. The 7-year-old has won three straight races, the latest being the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan on Dubai World Cup night.

Trainer Paul Messara said Ortensia is near the same peak of form she enjoyed in preparation for Dubai. But he expressed concern about the likelihood of soft going over the Ascot turf. "The ground is a concern," he said. "She has mixed form on rain-affected tracks and is better on top of the ground."

The King's Stand, with 23 projected starters, also features a pair from Hong Kong -- Little Bridge and Joy and Fun. Others to watch in a very competitive heat include Bated Breath, Sole Power, Tangerine Trees and Wizz Kid.

The St James' Palace Stakes for 3-year-old colts at 1 mile also is tough to puzzle out. Aidan O'Brien may have his best chance of the day's Group 1 events with Power, who fizzled badly in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket but rebounded to win the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh in his last start. This 16-horse field also includes Born To Sea, a half-brother to the great Sea the Stars. Born To Sea has but a single win to show from four starts but finished a close and closing fifth behind Power at the Curragh last time out.

The Group 2 Coventry Stakes for 2-year-olds attracted 23 starters with Sir Prancealot among the favorites off a 2-for-2 early record.

Queen Elizabeth II is expected to attend each day of Royal Ascot with the usual entourage.

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