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Gold-Fun aims to sparkle during exciting Diamond Jubilee Day simulcast


Gold-Fun’s run for glory in the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes is the main draw in a fascinating six-race simulcast from the fifth and final day of Royal Ascot on Saturday, 18 June, which also features the G2 Hardwicke Stakes, two of the week’s toughest handicaps and the longest Flat race in the UK calendar.

Hong Kong’s representative at the royal shindig faces stiff competition from nine rivals in the Diamond Jubilee, notably last year’s winner, the Wesley Ward-trained US raider Undrafted, and a slew of exciting European four-year-olds all jostling to be top dog in the 1200m ranks.

Hong Kong’s Cape Of Good Hope snared the prize 11 years ago at age seven and is the oldest winner of the straight track sprint since at least 1971. Gold-Fun is the same age and on Tuesday a nine-year-old mare landed the Ascot Stakes, so age should be no bar to success. More of an unknown factor is how the Le Vie Dei Colori chestnut will handle the prevailing soft ground. Showers were still falling on Thursday morning and were forecast to continue throughout the meeting.

Trainer Richard Gibson is not overly concerned about that and earlier this week revealed: “The reason we’re here is because we think he will be well-suited to this track profile – and some ease in the ground, I think that will suit him.” Although he did note that “no trainer likes extreme going.”

Gold-Fun will break from gate five, with Undrafted berthed in two. But with a small field this year, the draw should not be too crucial to the outcome.

The younger guns in the Diamond Jubilee include Godolphin’s Australian-trained three-year-old Holler, winner of the G1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) in March and a narrow second in the G1 William Reid (1200m) last start.

The European four-year-old contingent features Twilight Son, winner of the G1 Sprint Cup (1200m) at Haydock last term who warmed up for this with a promising fifth first-up behind another of his peers, Magical Memory, in the G2 Duke Of York Stakes (1200m) last month. Others to note are progressive The Tin Man, French raider Signs Of Blessing and Duke Of York runner-up Suedois.

The day’s other Group race feature is the 10-runner G2 Hardwicke Stakes over 2400m, a prize that has fallen to some top class gallopers down the years, the pick of recent times being subsequent wide margin G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes hero Harbinger, trained by Sir Michael Stoute.

Stoute has won six of the last 10 renewals, including the last two. His Freemason Lodge Stables will send out two eye-catching runners this time, Her Majesty the Queen’s Dartmouth, a dual G3 winner at beyond 2400m this term, and the exciting Juddmonte homebred Exosphere who slammed the re-opposing Simple Verse last start in Newmarket’s G2 Jockey Club Stakes (2400m). Ryan Moore was in the plate that day and looks set to renew the partnership in Saturday’s contest. 

“He started off and kept surprising me last year,” said Stoute after Exosphere’s most recent win. “He's worked better this year than last, so you've got to be happy with that. It was a good performance, we've a nice horse on our hands.”

Simple Verse won the G1 St Leger and, at the course and distance, the G1 British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes in 2015. She was fourth behind the outstanding Postponed in the G1 Coronation Cup (2400m) at Epsom two weeks ago but should relish any cut in the ground. Also among the declarations for the high-class contest is a horse familiar to Hong Kong race fans, the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) winner Highland Reel, as well as last season’s King George runner-up Eagle Top, Godolphin’s recent G2 Middleton Stakes (2100m) heroine Beautiful Romance and last start winner Mount Logan.

The Wokingham Stakes (1200m) is always one of the hottest and most puzzling sprint handicaps of the year. Kevin Ryan claimed the spoils in 2013 with York Glory and the trainer has one of the market leaders this time, Brando. The four-year-old broke his maiden last August and has won three of his last five, including a soft ground win at the distance last September, and heads in off a smart second over 1000m at York last month. With 31 runners declared for the 30-runner charge, there are plenty with solid claims. 

Another mindbender of a race is the Wolferton Handicap. Three favourites have won the 2000m Listed contest, first staged in 2002, but there have been seven winners at odds ranging between 10/1 and 25/1.

The day kicks off with the Chesham Stakes over 1400m for staying two-year-olds. Ireland’s champion trainer Aidan O’Brien has won the contest twice, latterly in 2011 with Maybe and he has the Moore-ridden Churchill, third in a soft ground maiden on debut last month. The meeting’s finale is the Queen Alexandra Stakes over a marathon 4345m and last year’s winner Oriental Fox is among the leading contenders once again.


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Diamond Jubilee Stakes Day


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