With next week’s events at Royal Ascot already looking likely to feature one of the highest quality fields in recent history, with a record number of overseas entrants taking part, the further announcement that Awtaad will be joining the list of names will certainly only increase expectation among race goers. The Irish 2,000 Guineas winner will take part in the St James’ Stakes, with trainer Kevin Prendergast hopeful of further success, 40 years on from his Irish Guineas victory with Northern Treasure.
Awtaad will be joined in the race by Zonderland who is fresh off the back of an impressive victory at Sandown, and the duo will be looking to cause an upset by finishing ahead of current race favourite The Gurkha. As shown by the odds at bookies.com, the Aiden O’Brien trained horse is ahead of Galileo Gold and Massaat in the racing odds, having won the Poule d'Essai des Poulains at Deauville in only its third ever competitive race.
With over 160 international entries descending on Ascot this year, the meeting certainly has a different feel in the build-up this year, with US star Tepin perhaps being the standout name among the record figures. The former Breeders Cup Mile winner will take part in the much coveted Queen Anne Stakes, and with best odds of 3/1 from bookies.com, it is difficult to see any other winner at this stage.
Elsewhere, Japanese horse A Shin Hikari is set for a run in the Prince of Wales Stakes, and is also the favourite in the racing odds at Ascot. The five-year-old will face stiff competition from Time Test and New Bay among others, in what is looking likely to be one of the more open races at this year’s event.
Organisers are unsurprisingly delighted with both the quality and quantity of entrants this year, with over 300,000 visitors expected to embark on the iconic venue this summer. One disappointment for officials however is the withdrawal of famous Australian horse Chautauqua. Generally considered as the best sprinter in the world, trainers Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes have decided to withdraw their prized asset from the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, having been the early favourite in the racing odds.