Impressive Al Quoz Sprint (UAE-I) winner Shea Shea will attempt to become the first South African horse to win at Royal Ascot in the King's Stand Stakes (Eng-I) on opening day June 18.
The 6-year-old National Emblem gelding is the 2-1 favorite among 19 runners for the five-furlong turf test, carded as the day's second race and set to run at 10:05 EDT.
Trained by Mike de Kock, Shea Shea won the Emirates NBD Al Quoz Sprint on the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) undercard March 30. He set a Meydan course record for 1,000 meters (about five furlongs) for the second time in as many starts there following his Meydan Sprint win over English group I winner Sole Power on the March 9 Super Saturday card.
A multiple South African champion trainer, de Kock is seeking a breakthrough win at the Royal meet after several placings with his runners. He has been training Shea Shea uphill in an attempt to familiarize him with Ascot's demanding finish.
Challengers include Irish-trained Sole Power and Australian group I winner Shamexpress, as well as English and French group I winner Reckless Abandon, currently the 6-1 second favorite who represents England.
A 3-year-old Exchange Rate colt, Reckless Abandon posted back-to-back wins at the group I level at age 2 in the Darley Prix Morny (Fr-I) last August at Deauville and the Vision.AE Middle Park Stakes (Eng-I) in October at Newmarket to cap the season.
Trained by Clive Cox, Reckless Abandon comes in off a close third-place finish behind winner Kingsgate Native and Swiss Spirit in the Betfred Temple Stakes (Eng-III) at Haydock May 25. The winner and runner-up both re-oppose in the King's Stand.
Australian-based runners have won four of the last 10 editions of the race, and Shamexpress looms a threat after his victory in the Lexus Newmarket Handicap (Aus-I) March 9 at Flemington. The 4-year-old O'Reilly gelding launched an explosive rally from the back of the field and wore down favorite Moment Of Change for a last gasp win for trainer Danny O'Brien.
Prohibit, winner of the 2011 King's Stand, also is entered and will try to halt an eight-race winless streak.
South African trainer Mike De Kock trains Al Quoz Sprint winner Shea Shea.