Australian superstar Black Caviar will face 14 rivals when she puts her unbeaten record on the line in Saturday's Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot. It marks the first international foray for the Peter Moody-trained mare, and Black Caviar is currently recognized as the greatest sprinter in the world and the second highest-rated horse behind miler Frankel, a spectacular winner of the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes on Tuesday's opening-day program.
Black Caviar collected her 20th straight victory in the Group 1 Sportingbet Classic (Robert Sangster) at Morphetville April 8, beating the previous Australasian record of 19 straight wins at metropolitan tracks. The six-year-old tuned up for the Diamond Jubilee with a comfortable score in the Group 1 Goodwood, also at Morphetville, on May 12.
Regular rider Luke Nolen will guide Black Caviar, who has been drawn in stall 15 of 15, and she will be odds-on to extend her unbeaten record in Saturday's featured event over six furlongs.
Her main rival is another mare, Freddie Head's French raider Moonlight Cloud. She made a winning return to action in a Longchamp Group 3 earlier this month, but has proven form at the highest level. The same can be said for the James Fanshawe-trained Society Rock, winner of this event 12 months ago and a respectable third in the Group 2 Duke of York Stakes on his seasonal reappearance.
Krypton Factor must be considered a major contender for Bahrain trainer Fawzi Nass following a successful campaign in Dubai earlier this year. The fourth foreign challenger is Restiadargent. Hughie Morrison will run Haydock Group 3 winner Pastoral Player, while others hoping to pick up prize money include Hitchens, The Cheka and Genki.
Last year's Group 1 Melbourne Cup first and second, Dunaden and Red Cadeaux, are among the 13 runners set for Saturday's Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The Mikel Delzangles-trained Dunaden also landed the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase last term, but has this season failed to fully fire in two starts over this 1 1/2-mile trip. By contrast, Red Cadeaux has won the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup for Ed Dunlop and also finished an admirable second to St Nicholas Abbey in the Group 1 Coronation Cup. He is one of two runners for Dunlop, with ex-French filly Testosterone due to make her debut for the Newmarket handler.
John Gosden is another with two irons in the fire as he prepares to saddle the progressive Aiken, who has only been beaten once in seven starts, and Coronation Cup third Masked Marvel. However, the latter is not a certain starter as Gosden has warned last year's Group 1 St Leger winner will only run if the ground is suitable.
"He's a horse that appreciates top of the ground, nice summer ground, which we don't seem to be getting a lot of at the moment," Gosden said of Masked Marvel.
Sir Michael Stoute fields Sea Moon and Fiorente, with the former, who finished second in the Breeders' Cup Turf last term, the choice of Ryan Moore. Aidan O'Brien relies on Memphis Tennessee, while Hunter's Light will represent the Godolphin team. Allied Powers, Calico Cat, Jakkalberry and Quest for Peace complete the line-up.
One of the biggest handicaps of the season, the Wokingham Stakes, will also be offered on Saturday, with 28 runners entered for the charge up the Ascot six-furlong straight. Medicean Man, trained by Aussie Jeremy Gask, takes the eye following his fourth in the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes on Tuesday.
Bolger, successful with Dawn Approach on Tuesday, will be hoping for another high-profile juvenile winner when Move to Strike lines up for Saturday's opening event, the Chesham Stakes over seven furlongs.
The Duke of Edinburgh Handicap at 1 1/2 miles will see another bumper field of 22, headed by Godolphin's Anatolian, and the festival closes with the marathon 2 3/4-mile Queen Alexandra, in which Simeon will bid for a second win at the meeting.