International Flavour At Ascot

Royal Ascot, now a five-day fixture, is the highlight of the Flat racing season and this year it is even more international than ever.

Royal Ascot, now a five-day fixture, is the highlight of the Flat racing season and this year it is even more international than ever.

Traditionally the Irish and French are represented en masse but after the success in the big sprint prizes of Choisir in 2003 and Takeover Target last year, top speedsters from both Austrlia and New Zealand will face the starter this week.

The domestically-trained sprinters, headed by Duke Of York winner Amadeus Wolf, trained by Kevin Ryan, are nothing special and the three Aussies (Bentley Biscuit, Takeover Target and Miss Andretti) are very much fancied to dominate.

Miss Andretti is the outstanding sprinter down under and she will have a legion of followers in Tuesday's King's Stand Stakes with the Irish-trained Dandy man heading the European defence.

The three Australian horses are due to turn out again in Friday's Golden Jubilee over six and the extra furlong will count against the flying filly and in favour of her two compatriots against Amadeus Wolf.

Tuesday's Queen Anne Stakes sees the return to action of George Washington; last year's 2000 Guineas winner proved himself an outstanding miler, but at stud he proved a shy breeder and the decision was taken in January to put him back into training.

Kieren Fallon will be unable to ride at the meeting ahead of his trial for conspiracy in September. Mick Kinane is favourite to mount George

Washington with Christophe Soumillon expected to retain the ride on Dylan Thomas in Wednesday's Prince Of Wales's Stakes.

Kinane is favourite to end up to pjockey at the meeting for the fifth time. Frankie Dettori will struggle for winners with Godolphin's representatives thin on the ground - that means more embarrassment for Sheikh Mohammed and his brothers, who must be pulling their hair out at their lack of success.

On Thursday, Aidan O'Brien's Yeats attempts to become the first since Royal Rebel five years ago to complete back-to-back victories in the Gold Cup. Tough-as-teak Sergenta Cecil, the 2005 Northumberland Plate winner, may prove his biggest threat.

The Guineas winners Cockney Rebel and Fisceal Beo line up for the St James's Palace Stakes on Tuesday and the Coronation Stakes respectively on Friday.

Henry Cecil - with a total of 70 Royal Ascot winners - has enjoyed a revival this year, highlighted by Light Shift's victory in the Epsom Oaks.

He has a sound chance in Wednesday's big handicap, the Hunt Cup with Sound Of Nature.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer