Royal Ascot King’s Stand Stakes Ante-Post Preview
France have been successful with Nuclear Debate (2000), Chineur (2005) and Equiano (2008). Australia have struck with Choisir (2003), Takeover Target (2006), Miss Andretti (2007) and Scenic Blast (2009) and last year it was the turn of Hong Kong with Little Bridge.
Shea Shea is favourite to take the prize back to South Africa this season. He put himself in line for this race with an impressive victory in the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan at the end of March. Trainer Mike de Kock has left no stone unturned in preparing his star sprinter for this event and has all but ruled out an audacious attempt to follow up in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes later in the week.
The six-year-old gelding won at Meydan in the style of a champion and holds a number of his rivals on that form. Shea Shea has been given plenty of time to acclimatise in Newmarket whilst Australian raider Shamexpress has just arrived on these shores.
Danny O’Brien’s four-year-old won the Group One Newmarket Handicap over six furlongs last time out but connections are confident that he can handle the drop back in trip. O’Brien is best known in Britain for Star Witness who was runner-up in the King’s Stand before finishing third in the Golden Jubilee.
Irish trained Sole Power won the Palace House Stakes in fine style but was a shade disappointing in the Temple Stakes at Haydock. Veteran sprinter Kingsgate Native came out best on that occasion with Swiss Spirit second and Reckless Abandon third. The latter may have been inconvenienced by racing in the opposite side of the track and is expected to finish closer next time.
Spirit Quartz is a stable companion of Kingsgate Native and finished fifth at Haydock before going on to win at Group 2 at Chantilly. William Haggas may elect to run the three-year-old Rosdhu Queen here after failing to see out the seven furlongs of the Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury.
David Barron was forced to withdraw Pearl Secret from the Temple Stakes and the chestnut still has plenty of potential. He won his first four races before finishing ninth in the Nunthorpe at York in August.