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Animal Kingdom heads 13 in the Queen Anne

16 Jun 2013

Animal Kingdom, who will bid to become the first horse in history to win Group 1 races on three different surfaces, will face 12 opponents in the opening race of Royal Ascot, the Queen Anne Stakes.

Animal Kingdom, seen here after his Dubai World Cup triumph, bids for more glory at Royal Ascot on Tuesday. Image courtesy of racngfotos.com.

The opening race of Royal Ascot looks at the mercy of USA superstar Animal Kingdom, who won America’s most famous race, the Kentucky Derby, in 2011 and ran away with the Dubai World Cup in March this year.

He is a class act and while he has never won over Tuesday’s trip of a mile, he was a fine second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile last November, form which is easily good enough to beat his 12 opponents at 2.30pm on Tuesday.

He may never have encountered a straight mile before, but the uphill finish should play to his strengths and he has been to Ascot for a canter to get used to it.

If Animal Kingdom is on song and handles the track, there’s surely only one winner as he bids to add a Group 1 turf victory to his Group 1 victories on dirt (Kentucky Derby) and Tapeta (Dubai World Cup). No horse has ever won at the highest level on three different surfaces before. 

If he isn’t, there are plenty in with chances in the third Mile race in the QIPCO British Champions Series.

Declaration Of War was very disappointing when fifth to Farhh in the JLT Lockinge Stakes, but has a huge home reputation and may run better this time now that trainer Aidan O’Brien has been able to assess that first run in a top level race.

Sovereign Debt and Aljamaaheer appeared to run their races when chasing Farhh home, but were over four lengths behind the winner who was not considered to be at full fitness. Ninety-nine times out of a 100 that would not be strong enough form to go close in a race of the quality of the Queen Anne.

John Gosden’s Gregorian seems to be improving, Trade Storm has claims for trainer david Simcock, while Penitent looks to be coming back to form and, having won a QIPCO British Champions Series race in the past, can’t be overlooked.

Gosden also runs Elusive Kate and although she has not run so far this season, she goes well fresh and has been in good form on the Newmarket gallops.

Gosden gave her a work-out on the July Course last week, which went well.

He could have taken a much easier option by running her in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes against her own sex, but the fact that she’s going for this race speaks volumes about the filly who has already won two Group 1 races. Indeed, other than Animal Kingdom, she is the only other horse in the race to have won at the highest level.

This race was upgraded to Group 1 status in 2003 and in the 10 runnings since, there has been just one winner at a double figure price – Refuse To Bend at 12-1 in 2004.

Only two favourites have won, but five second favourites have been successful in those 10 years.

Of the four odds-on favourites in that time, only one – Frankel last year – won, a statistic that may not go down too well wiith backers of the odds-on Animal Kingdom.