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Shea Shea and Animal Kingdom lead inter-continental challenge

13 Jun 2013

In Newmarket today, the connections of most of the overseas challengers on target for next week's Royal Meeting told a throng of racing media how their charges had settled down in the UK ahead of the big test that awaits.

Shea Shea relaxes in his new surroundings in Newmarket, where he has been stabled for the last month. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

No disrespect to Aussie sprint hopes Sea Siren and Shamexpress or USA sprinter Havelock who arrives next week, but the big QIPCO British Champions Series international contenders for next week’s Royal Ascot are surely South African sprinter, Shea Shea, and USA superstar, Animal Kingdom.

The former is almost certain to run in the five-furlong King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday, race two in the Sprint division, while Animal Kingdom will contest the preceding race that opens the world’s greatest race meeting, the Queen Anne Stakes over a mile.

Top South African trainer, Mike De Kock, said of Shea Shea this morning: "I’m very happy with what’s happened so far.

"He’ll have been here five weeks by next Tuesday and has done well at hill work.

"He’s been to work on the July Course and has worked up Long Hill a few times.

"I’ve only had places at Ascot so far, and it’s one meeting any trainer would certainly love to have a winner."

Looking ahead, the six-furlong Darley July Cup next month is also very much on the agenda, with De Kock saying: "He’s won over seven furlongs in South Africa so the July Cup should be very suited to him."

Animal Kingdom, winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby and 2013 Dubai World Cup, has been stabled in Lambourn, but had an away day at Newmarket yesterday where the work watchers were very impressed.

His trainer, British-born Graham Motion, said today: "When I started out I never dreamed I would have a horse as capable as this one.

"When a Kentucky Derby horse gets injured as he did, they normally go straight to stud.

"This fellow had surgery on his hock and was stuck in his box for two months after the Belmont (Stakes).

"The second injury was not as bad, but to me it’s been remarkable that he’s been able to come back like he has.

"To be running in the race Frankel won so spectacularly last year is an honour.

"I was concerned when we worked him at Ascot as it was very soft, something totally new to him that he had never raced on, but he handled the work well.

"To be here at Royal Ascot is amazing. It’s very special to me.

"Doing this is like a dream come true."