2015 Royal Ascot: Australian connections talk through their chances
The Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket played host to a press conference this morning with connections of international challengers from Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and the USA talking about their hopes for Royal Ascot next week.
Here’s what Australian connections had to say on their chances at the five-day spectacular:
Sprinter Brazen Beau, trained by Chris Waller, holds entries in the Group King’s Stand Stakes over 5f on the opening day of Royal Ascot (Tuesday, June 16th) as well as the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes over 6f on the final day (Saturday, June 20th) and is expected to go for the latter for which he is currently the 3/1 favourite with Coral.
He is a dual Group 1 winner in Australia, with his latest high-level success coming in the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington on March 14. He races in the colours of the 38-strong On Track Thoroughbreds, although he has been purchased by Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley operation and is set to retire to stud in Australia following his European campaign.
Joanne Taylor, assistant to Chris Waller who travelled to the UK with Brazen Beau, added: “I could honestly not have asked for a better horse to travel. He was phenomenal during the long flights and we had quite a lengthy delay at Singapore.
“If you see him just walking around, you would not even think he was a colt. He is very laid back and just takes everything in his stride.
“He is very different from most of Chris’s other horses. We have been fortunate enough to have some good staying horses but it is nice that Brazen Beau is a sprinter that Chris has trained from the start, starting from scratch.
“Bringing Brazen Beau over for Royal Ascot has been a life-changing experience for me. I have been fortunate to travel all over Australia with him but I could never have envisaged myself sitting here 12 months ago, so this horse really has changed my life.”
The mare Shamal Wind is set to take in Tuesday’s King’s Stand Stakes and is currently with 8/1 Coral.
The six-year-old was successful last time out in Group 1 company, taking in the extended 5f Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield on February 28th.
Her trainer Robert Smerdon reported: “Shamal Wind’s win in the Oakleigh was typical of her style in that she is a run-on sprinter. She is explosive burst but you have to time it exactly right and she has been narrowly beaten in races. She is a tricky ride. Against that, we have the services of Ryan Moore which should stand us in good stead.
“She has taken the travelling well. She is a tough mare with a determined attitude. It is a great a mare of her age still being competitive at the top level.
“She would be below the form of horses like Brazen Beau and Lankan Rupee in Australia but she has got great form when she is a fresh from a break and her 1,000 metre (5f) form is her best.”
Legendary Australian handler Gai Waterhouse has yet to taste success at Royal Ascot but is hoping to change that in 2015 with Wandjina, who is set to take in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (12/1 with Coral).
The four-year-old won the mile Group 1 Australian Guineas over a mile in March and was last seen out when going down by a head in the seven-furlong Group 1 Schweppes All Aged Stakes at Royal Randwick on April 18th.
Waterhouse said: “Wandjina is a very honest horse. He is athletic and masculine. He carries himself well and is already a Group 1 winner.
“I spoke to the owners and they said they would like to expose him to racing in the northern hemisphere, as he will retired to stud in August. I think ideally 1,400 (7f) to 1,600 metres (1m) is best for him but he is versatile. He hasn’t run for a while so is fresh.
“I was happy with his last run and I know jockey Damien Oliver was very pleased too. He is a laid back horse and the ground doesn’t seem to bother him, just takes it as it comes.
“We wouldn’t be here is we didn’t think we could be competitive. We have been here before and didn’t succeed, so we are coming back to try and succeed.”
Criterion is set to take in the 1m 2f Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday, June 17th, and is 12/1 with Coral.
Owned by Sir Owen Glenn, the five-year-old New Zealand-bred is a three-time Group 1 winner in Australia and was last seen out when third in the Group 1 QEII Cup at Sha Tin, Hong Kong, on April 26th.
Trainer David Hayes said: “Sir Owen Glenn said if we had the right horse we should go to Royal Ascot.
“After watching Australian horses do so well in the sprints, I’ve always thought that if I had a horse that was good enough it would be great to take the English on at their own game with middle-distance horses.
“The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes is going to be a very hard task, with a tough international field. But all I can say is Criterion is very healthy and I have been very happy with his work.
“The horse had a look around Ascot last Tuesday. I was pleased with him and young Chad Schofield who rode him said he handled the undulations very well.
“It is going to be a tough race but I think Ascot will suit him. I am confident he can be competitive. I hope the weather forecast is wrong as he prefers some cut in the ground.”