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O’Brien and Hughes top Series tables while Doyle hopes for a big week

17 Jun 2013

Aidan O'Brien and Richard Hughes top the Trainer and Jockey of the Series tables going into Royal Ascot, while James Doyle has three good rides in Series races and is hoping for success.

Al Kazeem, under a great ride from James Doyle, defeats Camelot in Ireland last month. Can he do the same on Wednesday? Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

Seven QIPCO British Champions Series races will be run at this week’s Royal Ascot, including a pulsating trio to open the meeting tomorrow, with the trainers’ and jockeys’ titles still wide open. All races will be shown live on Channel 4 for the first time.

Aidan O’Brien, last year’s QIPCO British Champions Series Champion Trainer, has already taken the lead this year thanks to his Investec Derby and Coronation Cup victories, though last year he had already racked up 120 points at this stage and this year he has only 45.

Unlike most Royal Meetings, he does not look like saddling a single favourite in the seven Series races so he may find it hard to extend his lead, although Declaration Of War (Queen Anne), Magician (St James’s Palace) and Camelot (Prince of Wales’s) are obviously strong contenders.

On the jockeys’ side, Richard Hughes leads the QIPCO British Champions Series jockeys’ table with 40 points after breaking his UK Classic duck with Sky Lantern in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and Talent in the Investec Oaks.

While he won his first UK jockeys’ championship last year, his strike rate in the top races of 2012 was below par by his standards.

He finished the Series in joint 14th place with just 25 points, thanks primarily to The Fugue’s Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes victory last August, but this season he has far greater top level ammunition.

With Toronado in the St James’s Palace Stakes and Sky Lantern in the Coronation Stakes his main hopes for the week, he will be looking to maintain his early lead.

One jockey hoping to make an impact this week is James Doyle, Roger Charlton’s stable jockey.

His big rides are Dundonnell in tomorrow’s St James’s Palace Stakes, Al Kazeem, favourite for Wednesday’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes, and Mince in the Diamond Jubilee on Saturday.

On the highly regarded Dundonnell, who came back to form at Newmarket last time, he said today: “It’s a tough race obviously with Dawn Approach now being declared, but the track will suit him and the way he’s been working, he will get the mile no problem.”

On Al Kazeem, he said: “He won very nicely in Ireland and surprised a lot of people by showing exactly how good he was.

“The race has fallen apart a bit with Snow Fairy and Farhh now not running, but it still leaves some decent horses in the line-up.

“We go with a favourite’s chance, but it is Ascot after all and you can never be too confident. Hopefully we will run into a place at least.”

Finally turning to Mince, he reflected: “She’s left us all scratching our heads.

“She was so good last year, but her comeback runs have been very disappointing.

“There’s nothing wrong with her, so we’re hoping it was just a lack of fitness.

“She’ll go to Ascot much fitter and very well in herself, so there’s absolutely no reason why she can’t run a big race.”