Royal Ascot boasts a distinctly UAE flavour this week with Abu Dhabi becoming associated with Queen Elizabeth II meeting for the first time and a generous handful of potential winners making the trip from Dubai. UAE-based jockeys Frankie Dettori and Ahmed Ajtebi get proceedings under way in today's opening turf mile, the Group One Queen Anne Stakes, as they pilot Godolphin hopefuls, Alexandros and Gladiatorus at 5.30pm UAE.
Godolphin also saddle Dandy Man in the Kings Stand Stakes sprint over five furlongs at 6.05pm UAE. Tomorrow, designated Abu Dhabi Day following the fledgling partnership between Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and Ascot, Saeed bin Suroor saddles another for the boys in blue, Trincot, who takes on Sir Michael Stoute's excellent Tartan Bearer under champion jockey Ryan Moore in the Group One Prince of Wales Stakes over 1m 2f.
Post time is 6.45pm but before that, at 5.30pm, bin Suroor is double handed in the Group Three, seven furlong Jersey Stakes with Ashram under Dettori and UAE favourite, Ted Durcan, on Donativum. Thursday is bumper day for Godolphin as they start three in the prestigious Gold Cup stamina test over 2m 4f. Ajtebi dons the blue silks again as he is reunited with Dubai Sheema Classic winner, Eastern Anthem, who will be attempting the distance for the first time, and is joined by Dettori on Veracity and Durcan on Sagara.
Aidan O'Brien's sensational three-time Gold Cup winner, Yeats, gets the chance to prove himself again after disappointing in his only start of 2009. Those runners start at 6.45pm. Friday's main race, the Group One Coronation Stakes for fillies at 6.45pm, sees the renewal of a rivalry that began in the 1,000 Guineas. The lightly raced Ghanaati, owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, and trained by Barry Hills, won on that occasion from the more fancied Rainbow View, prepared by John Gosden, who could only manage fifth at Newmarket then fourth over the longer trip of the Epsom Investec Derby.
Whether she will have found her race remains to be seen but the pair line up alongside Godolphin's outside chance, Moonlife, ridden by Dettori, who was second in a Listed race last month. Saturday, the closing day, features the showpiece Golden Jubilee Stakes when Dubai-based Mike de Kock's South African speedster, JJ The Jet Plane, under Kevin Shea, takes on former Hong Kong champion sprinter and Singapore comeback king, Sacred Kingdom, handled by Ricky Yu, and the ever-popular Australian campaigner, Takeover Target, trained by former taxi driver Joe Janiak.
Heading to the post at 6.45pm, the trio are likely to be joined by bin Suroor's ever consistent Diabolical, with Dettori in the irons. email@example.com