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Ribchester heads sweet 16 left in Queen Anne Stakes

18 Jun 2017

Richard Fahey-trained four-year-old seeks successive wins in Champions Series

William Buick gives Ribchester a celebratory pat after the combination had won the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Dual Group 1 winner Ribchester heads a final bumper field of 16 for the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on Tuesday, part of the mile category of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

The Richard Fahey-trained four-year-old, who will be joined in the line-up by stablemate Toscanini, his pacemaker, won the Jersey Stakes at last year’s meeting and has since struck twice at the highest level, winning the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on his latest start. On that occasion he had Lightning Spear behind in second and he has finished in front of him on the four occasions they have met.

The Queen Anne is the first of eight races at this week’s meeting that form part of the QIPCO British Champions Series and has a tremendously international flavour with Miss Temple City, from the yard of Graham Motion, and the Todd Pletcher-trained American Patriot attempting to scoop the spoils for America for the second year running following the victory of Tepin 12 months ago. Meanwhile, Spectre will fly the flag for Germany.

In addition, it will feature Michelle Payne, who created history in 2015 when becoming the first female jockey to ride the winner of the Melbourne Cup aboard Prince Of Penzance.

A movie about her life is in the making – Payne is uncertain who is playing her – and the producers will have to include another chapter if the 31-year-old, who arrived in England five days ago, partners the Australian-owned Kaspersky to success for Jane Chapple-Hyam.

Kaspersky has won 12 of his 21 races, including twice at Group 2 level, but is among the outsiders in the betting. Payne is unperturbed, hardly surprising given that Prince Of Penzance was 100-1 when winning Australia’s greatest race and that Chapple-Hyam herself won with an 80-1 chance at Newbury on Thursday.

“Jane has Kaspersky in great order and he’s peaking perfectly for the big day,” Payne said. “I’ve been riding him in his recent work and he is a quality galloper who is in great order. Just trotting off on him you can feel his quality. There’s some fantastic horses lined up against him but it will be very exciting to have a go and hopefully he can make his presence felt.

“Who knows what can happen in racing? The possibilities are endless. If you work hard, you never know. Royal Ascot is a fantastic occasion and it’s a dream to be involved. Everyone at home is excited for me as well and setting their alarms to be up early to watch.”

Payne intends to walk the course tomorrow and will be back at Ascot in August to compete at the Shergar Cup meeting.

Aidan O’Brien, bidding for a fourth win in the race, relies on Cougar Mountain and Deauville. The latter, in common with the Robert Cowell-trained Dutch Uncle, has been supplemented for the race.

Mutakayyef, who was third in the Juddmonte International Stakes last year, represents William Haggas. Oh This Is Us, Kool Kompany, Dutch Connection, Jallota and Ennaadd complete the field.