x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Royal Ascot: Sprinters take centre stage

World Cup night runners ready for action as Sky Lantern and Richard Hughes secure Group 1 Coronation Stakes after wide draw.

Richard Hughes rides Sky Lantern, grey horse, to victory ahead of Kenhope and Just The Judge in the Coronation Stakes during Day 4 of Royal Ascot yesterday.
Richard Hughes rides Sky Lantern, grey horse, to victory ahead of Kenhope and Just The Judge in the Coronation Stakes during Day 4 of Royal Ascot yesterday.

Ascot, England // The form of horses who ran at the Dubai World Cup this year has taken a knock at Royal Ascot but the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes this afternoon provides a final opportunity for the sprinters who ran on the same card to sign off the five days with a flourish.

Krypton Factor ran third to Reynaldothewizard in the Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan Racecourse on World Cup night in March, after winning the same race in 2012, and flies the flag for the six-furlong sprint over the same distance here.

Gordon Lord Byron was seventh in the $US2 million (Dh7.3m) sprint and will join Krypton Factor in the line-up.

The subject of what a run at Meydan Racecourse on World Cup night is worth to the career of an international campaigner has been much discussed since Animal Kingdom failed in spectacular fashion in the Queen Anne Stakes on Tuesday.

The horses that followed him home in the $10m Dubai World Cup event also struggled to perform.

Red Cadeaux was the runner-up at Meydan and having collected over Dh1m on his return home via races in Japan and Singapore, he could finish only ninth of 11 behind Al Kazeem in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes on Wednesday.

Side Glance, who was fourth in Dubai, beat Red Cadeaux home to finish seventh.

Both the World Cup and the Golden Shaheen are raced on a Tapeta surface. Meydan's turf races, however, have so far stood up to scrutiny.

Shea Shea and Sole Power fought out a brutal final furlong with the Hong Kong raiders Joy And Fun and Eagle Regiment in the Al Quoz sprint. Sole Power got the better of Shea Shea when the two runners were split across the track in the King's Stand Stakes on Tuesday.

Krypton Factor had no problems translating his form to Ascot's rain-affected turf 12 months ago when running a huge race in the Diamond Jubilee to finish a close sixth to Black Caviar.

In front of him that day were Godolphin's Soul, in fourth, and Society Rock, in fifth.

Both are set to run today.

Krypton Factor's connections hope for an improved finish in the Diamond Jubilee. "He wasn't beaten far last year and the ground is more in his favour this time around," Oliver St Lawrence, the racing manager to owner and trainer Fawzi Nass, said. "He arrived in England in May after having a break in Dubai.

"He had foot problems throughout the Carnival that were holding him up but the bruising has gone and he has had no such problems since he arrived in England. He's stripped a lot fitter since he got here."

Representing Meydan turf form is Dandy Boy, the seemingly perennial Dubai World Cup Carnival runner.

Dandy Boy has run at the last three Carnivals but his most recent try was a disappointing ninth to Shea Shea in the Meydan Sprint in March. The seven-year-old Irish challenger then was 10th to Hitchens, another Carnival candidate, in a prep race for today at the Curragh in May.

Dandy Boy won the Wokingham Stakes on the same card as Black Caviar last year and beat the Australian mare's time over the same course and distance.

Understandably, the step up in class has been the target since Dandy Boy defeated 27 others 12 months ago.

"I wasn't disappointed with his last run. He had no luck in running and didn't run too badly," said David Marnane, the trainer. "He loves Ascot, he's two from three there, and we're looking forward to it."

Sky Lantern proved she is the exceptional filly of her European year group with a scintillating victory under Richard Hughes in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes yesterday.

Sky Lantern was drawn 16th of 17 runners and Hughes took the brave decision to drop out the grey filly.

As the field swept into the straight, Hughes pressed the accelerator and Sky Lantern motored home past most of her rivals and pulled clear of Kenhope, the French raider. Just The Judge, who she beat in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket in May, was third.

Sky Lantern is pencilled in for the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket next month, although Richard Hannon, the filly's trainer, is considering the surprising step of running the winner in the Prix l'Arc de Triomphe in October over four furlongs farther.

sports@thenational.ae