Able Friend Takes Aim at Royal Ascot Opener

Able Friend Takes Aim at Royal Ascot Opener
Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club
Able Friend

The top-rated miler in the world, Able Friend, will take aim at the Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I) June 16 when the prestigious Royal Ascot meet gets off to a flying start with three group I races.

Leading the way will be the Queen Anne, which will open the meet at 2:30 p.m. local time (9:30 a.m. EDT). Two other group I races on Tuesday's card are the King's Stand Stakes at five furlongs and the St. James's Palace Stakes for 3-year-old milers.

A winner of six straight stakes in Hong Kong—all group I or group II events—where he registered clear victories, Australian-bred Able Friend will add the challenge of travel to Europe and competing on an unfamiliar course when the 6-year-old Shamardal gelding starts in the Queen Anne.

"Everyone asks me how much he has left at the end of his races when he wins so easily but it's hard to say, I haven't fully asked him most of the time because I haven't needed to and I hope I won't have to," said his jockey, Joao Moreira. "Obviously I respect all the other horses, but I have confidence. It's a prestigious race, one of the most prestigious in the world, (and) people aren't running for fun. There are lots of other great horses, but I'm full of confidence in my boy."

Sprinters will take center stage in the King's Stand in which 19 horses have been entered, including Sole Power, who will try to become the first three-time King's Stand winner after winning the race in 2013 and 2014.

"I'm very happy with him. He's in a real good place and I'm looking forward to him," trainer Eddie Lynam said of the 8-year-old Kyllachy gelding. "This is his fifth Royal Ascot, which is unusual. He has won the last twice and was placed in it and he was down the field in it, but he hascarried us for years. He's a great horse."

In the St. James's Palace, QIPCO Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) and Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) winner Gleneagles will try to add another group I score.

"We're happy with him since the Curragh and everything has gone well," said trainer Aidan O'Brien, who is pursuing his seventh victory in the race.

The card includes the Conventry Stakes (Eng-II) for 2-year-olds at six furlongs, in which U.S.-based Wesley Ward has entered Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Ice Wine Stable's Finnegan, who will be ridden by Joel Rosario. In his second career start, Finnegan won a five-furlong maiden race on the turf by five lengths May 16 at Pimlico Race Course.

Ward has been thinking about the Conventry from the start for the son of Unbridled's Song.

"From the first time we breezed him I felt this was his race," Ward said. "He's a different type to some of the speed horses I've brought over in the past. I know the Coventry Stakes is a very prestigious race with a lot of history, it is first and foremost a race I would like to win at Royal Ascot and it would be an honor to do it."

Queen Anne S. (Eng-I) 
2:30 p.m. local time (9:30 a.m. EDT)
No. Horse Trainer Jockey

1. Able Friend John Moore Joao Moreira
2. Cougar Mountain Aidan O'Brien Ryan Moore
3. Glory Awaits Kevin Ryan Silvestre De Sousa
4. Here Comes When Andrew Balding Jim Crowley
5. Night Of Thunder Richard Hannon James Doyle
6. Solow Freddy Head Maxine Guyon
7. Toormore Richard Hannon Richard Hughes
8. Esoterique Andre Fabre Pierre-Charles Boudot

King's Stand Stakes (Eng-I) 
3:40 local time (10:40 a.m. EDT)
No. Horse Trainer Jockey

1. G Force David O' Meara Pat Smullen
2. Goldream Robert Cowell Martin Harley
3. Hot Streak Kevin Ryan Jamie Spencer
4. Jack Dexter Jim Goldie Fergal Lynch
5. Justice Day David Elsworth J F Egan
6. Lancelot Du Lac Dean Ivory Robert Winston
7. Medicean Man Jeremy Gask Joao Moreira
8. Muthmir William Haggas Paul Hanagan
9. Pearl Secret David Barron Andrea Atzeni
10. Rangali H-A Pantall Fabrice Veron
11. Robot Boy David Barron Graham Gibbons
12. Sole PowerEdward Lynam Richard Hughes
13. Spirit Quartz X. Nakkachdji Gregory Benoist
14. Stepper Point William Muir Martin Dwyer
15. Steps Roger Varian Jim Crowley
16. Take Cover David Griffiths Adam Kirby
17. Mecca's Angel Michael Dods Paul Mulrennan
18. Shamal Wind Robert Smerdon Ryan Moore
19. Wind Fire David Brown Oisin Murphy

St. James's Palace S. (Eng-I) 
4:20 p.m. local time (11:20 a.m. EDT)
No. Horse Trainer Jockey

1. Aktabantay Hugo Palmer Andrea Atzeni
2. Belardo Roger Varian James Doyle
3. Consort Sir Michael Stoute Frankie Dettori
4. Gleneagles Aidan O'Brien Ryan Moore
5. Latharnach Charlie Appleby William Buick
6. Make Believe Andre Fabre Olivier Peslier

Coventry S. (Eng-II) 
3:05 p.m. local time (10:05 a.m. EDT)
No. Horse Trainer Jockey

1. Age of Empire Richard Hannon Richard Hughes
2. Air Force Blue Aidan O'Brien Ryan Moore
3. Beaverbrook Mark Johnston James Doyle
4. Black Beach J F Levins Gary Carroll
5. Buratino Mark Johnston William Buick
6. Destroyer William Muir Martin Dwyer
7. Eltezam Richard Hannon Frankie Dettori
8. Finnegan Wesley Ward Joel Rosario
9. First Selection Simon Crisford Silvestre De Sousa
10. Maccus Brian Meehan Jimmy Fortune
11. Ocean Eleven John Ryan Adam Kirby
12. Ode to Evening Mark Johnston James McDonald
13. Qeyaadah Ed Dunlop Paul Hanagan
14. Round Two J S Bolger Kevin Manning
15. Sign of the Kodiac James Given Tom Eaves
16. Sir Roger Moore Charles Hills Andrea Atzeni
17. War Department William Haggas Tom Queally
18. Young John Richard Fahey Tony Hamilton

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