Led by Godolphin's Haydock Sprint Cup (G1) winner Harry Angel (IRE), Merchant Navy Syndicate's Merchant Navy (AUS) and defending champion The Tin Man (GB), a field of 12 horses has been entered for Saturday's Group 1, six-furlong Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, with the winner receiving an automatic berth into the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) through the international Breeders' Cup Challenge.
The Breeders' Cup Challenge is an international series of 82 stakes races, whose winners receive automatic starting positons and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, which will be held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, Nov. 2-3.
As a part of the benefits of the Challenge series, the Breeders' Cup will pay the entry fees for the winner of the Diamond Jubilee winner to start in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, which will be run at 5.5 furlongs. Breeders' Cup will also provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships. If not Breeders' Cup eligible, the Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders' Cup program by the pre-entry deadline of October 22 to receive the rewards.
Trained by Clive Cox, the 4-year-old Harry Angel comes into Saturday's race with five wins in nine career starts, and his most recent victory being a two-length score in the six-furlong Duke of York Clipper Stakes (G2) at York on May 16 as the 4-9 favorite. Ridden by Adam Kirby from post 8, Harry Angel, a bay son of Dark Angel (IRE), won last year's 32Red Sprint Cup in a tour de force, powering down the stretch at York by four lengths in front at the wire. He suffered hard luck in his next race, the six-furlong QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes (G1) at Ascot, in which he reared at the start and had a troubled trip, winding up fourth. At Royal Ascot last year, Harry Angel finished second to Caravaggio in the Commonwealth Cup (G1).
Merchant Navy came from Australia earlier this year from the yard of trainer Aaron Purcell to Aidan O'Brien at Ballydoyle for the Marchant Navy Syndicate of Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor. In Australia, Merchant Navy, a 3-year-old bay son of Fastnet Rock (AUS), won the Coolmore Stud Stakes (G1) at Flemington on Nov. 4 by a head at odds of 18-1. This year, after two third-place finishes in the Schweppes Rubiton Stakes (G2) at Caulfied on Feb. 10, and in the Group 1 six-furlong Lexus Newmarket Handicap at Flemington on March 10, Merchant Navy was shipped to Ireland, and made his debut there on May 26 at The Curragh in the six-furlong Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes (G2), winning it by a length over stablemate Spirit of Valor. Merchant Navy breaks from post 7 under Ryan Moore.
Another Australian runner is the 7-year-old English-bred Redkirk Warrior, who has won six of nine career starts Down Under, including his last two at Flemington. Owned by MB Lee and Miss YCS Tam, Redkirk Warrior, won the five-furlong Black Caviar Lighting Stakes (G2) on February 17 and the Lexus Newmarket Handicap (G1) at six furlongs on March 10, with Merchant Navy just a neck back in third. A chestnut gelding by Nowaycato (GB) out of Flag (GB) by Selkirk, and trained by David A & B Hayes and Tom Dabering, Redkirk Warrior will be ridden by Frankie Dettori (post 9), who was leading all Royal Ascot riders through Thursday with four wins at the meeting.
Fred Archer Racing's The Tin Man (GB), a 6-year-old gelding seeking his ninth career win, won last year's Diamond Jubilee by a neck over Tasleet (GB). Trained by James Fanshawe and ridden from post 12 by Tom Queally, The Tin Man was third in the 32Red Sprint Cup and fifth in the British Champion Sprint Stakes to close out last year. He made his 2018 debut a winning one, taking the listed six-furlong Weatherbys Hamilton Leisure Stakes was by three-quarters-of a length as the 7-4 favorite.
Owner and trainer Wesley Ward has entered Kentucky-bred Bound For Nowhere (Joel Rosario, post 12), fourth in last year's Commonwealth Cup at Ascot, who comes into this year's Diamond Jubilee with a dominant four-length win in the 5.5 furlong Shakertown Stakes (G2 at Keeneland).
The Diamond Jubilee Stakes is the second Turf Sprint qualifier to be run this year. On June 9, the 6-year-old Disco Partner earned the first berth into the race by winning the Jaipur Invitational (G2) at Belmont Park.
Saturday's race is the fourth Breeders' Cup Challenge “Win and You're In” race to be held at Royal Ascot this year. On Tuesday, Accidental Agent (GB) won the Queen Anne Stakes (G1), and earned a free berth into the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1. On Wednesday Poet's Word (IRE) won the Prince of Wales's Stakes (G1) and gained an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf. Thursday's Norfolk Stakes (G2) was won by the 2-year-old filly Shang Shang Shang, who gained a free berth into the new Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.
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