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Awesome curtain-raiser just 48 hours away!

17 Jun 2012

Royal Ascot, the world's greatest race meeting, is at hand and a scintillating start to the five days is in prospect with Frankel the star attraction in the three QIPCO British Champions races on the opening day.

Frankel, pictured here winning the St James’s Palace Stakes on day one of Royal Ascot last year, will start this year’s Royal Meeting with a bang! Image courtsy of racingfotos.com.

Far from frightening off all the opposition, nine horses plus his pacemaking half-brother, Bullet Train, have been declared to take on Frankel in the Queen Anne Stakes, the opening race of Royal Ascot at 2.30pm on Tuesday and race three in the QIPCO British Champions Series Mile division.

Unbeaten in ten races, which he has won by an average winning distance of just over five lengths, Frankel is the best horse of the modern era who may yet prove himself the best of all time. What a treat it will be to see this awesome thoroughbred in action once again!

Old rival Excelebration, who has finished second or third to Frankel on four occasions, will once again have a crack at the Sir Henry Cecil-trained and Tom Queally-ridden superstar and must have every prospect of finishing second once again.

Strong Suit is the other big challenger, who posted his best effort to date at Newmarket last autumn and who was pulled out of the JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last month, when Frankel hammered Excelebration, because the ground was too soft.

If the ground is suitable, he is likely to give Excelebration a race for second place, while the rest have an awful lot of improvement to find if they are to trouble the three principals.

If seeing Frankel in action in the Queen Anne wasn’t enough excitement for day one of Royal Ascot, two other QIPCO British Champions Series races will follow hard on its heels.

An ultra-competitive King’s Stand Stakes over five furlongs, the second sprint in the Series, has attracted 23 declarations and sees Australian challenger Ortensia, who was so impressive when winning on Dubai World Cup Night in March, pitted against Britain’s top sprinter, Bated Breath, and France’s best, Wizz Kid.

Throw in last year’s winner, Prohibit, and Ireland’s top sprinter, Sole Power, plus Hong Kong challengers Joy And Fun and Little Bridge, not to mention plenty of viable outsiders, and a fantastic race is in prospect.

The ground is likely to play a big part in the outcome. While Bated Breath, Ortensia, Sole Power and the Hong Kong horses would all prefer fast ground, Wizz Kid, in particular, thrives on soft ground.

The weather over the next 48 hours will prove key. The going is currently Good-to-Soft with drying weather at the moment, but more showers are forecast tomorrow before the start of a bright and dry period on Tuesday.

The St James’s Palace Stakes, race three in the Mile division and for three-year-olds only (unlike the Queen Anne, which is for four-year-olds and up), is no less competitive.

Power, who won the Irish 2000 Guineas for trainer Aidan O’Brien last month, will start a worthy favourite, but there are a host of other potentially top class colts in opposition.

They include the QIPCO 2000 Guineas third, Hermival, the John Oxx-trained Born To Sea, who finished well after a slow start in the Irish Guineas, Brian Meehan’s highly regarded pair, Cogito and Most Improved, and the John Gosden-trained duo, Fencing and The Nile.

Richard Fahey’s Gabrial is another to note – he has a lot to find on ratings, but is clearly a colt with huge talent.

A pulsating day is in prospect as the curtain rises on the greatest race meeting in the world.

And the best news of all? There are four more days to follow it!

Get along to Ascot if you can. If you can’t, then soak up the atmosphere and the sensational racing live on BBC TV and At The Races.

To view the full race details and field for the Queen Anne Stakes, CLICK HERE.

To view the full race details and field for the King’s Stand Stakes, CLICK HERE.

To view the full race details and field for the St James’s Palace Stakes, CLICK HERE.