Overseas raiders have achieved great success in the King's Stand Stakes, with four Australian-trained winners, one French-trained winner and one Spanish-trained winner since Choisir kicked things off in 2003.
And the foreign challenge looks as good as ever this year, too.
The mighty Black Caviar remains prominent in the market for the King's Stand Stakes, but the Diamond Jubilee on the Saturday of Royal Ascot is her reported target so Aussie representation is instead likely to rest with Paul Messara's Ortensia, winner of the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint out in Meydan, where she arrived late to defeat the 2010 Nunthorpe winner Sole Power. A Timeform rating of 120 leaves Ortensia with a bit to find but that may not tell the whole story, as she's unbeaten in three starts since joining the trainer and there's a good chance that her new handler can get more from her even at the age of seven. Connections are keen to stress that she's improving and she should be suited by the way the race will develop (usually well run) as a hold-up performer, so expect to see her arriving on the scene late.
Joy And Fun, who finished third behind Ortensia in the Al Quoz Sprint, is another likely international runner. The Hong Kong- trained nine-year-old is rated 122 by Timeform after an impressive victory at Sha Tin back in February and has experience of the Ascot track, having finished down the field in the Golden Jubilee of 2010, the same year that he himself won the Al Quoz. Whilst there is a school of thought that suggests Joy And Fun may be better suited to six furlongs, that run in Dubai did prove he can cut it at the minimum, but he'll still do well to turn around form with the pair that finished in front of him.
Another challenger hailing from Hong Kong is Little Bridge. The six-year-old bay finished one place behind his compatriot when fourth in last season's Hong Kong Sprint and remains relatively lightly raced over the minimum trip having tried various distances in the past 12 months. Victories on his last two starts suggest he is as good as ever and he looks a live contender.
The home defence is likely to be headed by Roger Charlton's Bated Breath, who defeated Sole Power in the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock last time. Bated Breath was attempting the minimum trip for only the second time in his career but he didn't have any trouble as the race went, travelling best of all and quickening well to take a length out of the field when things began to hot up. The stiff five furlongs at Ascot is likely to play to his strengths and, whilst Sole Power was only a neck behind the five-year-old at the finish, it is difficult to envisage Edward Lynam's runner reversing the form with an even greater emphasis on stamina.
Sole Power has already been mentioned a few times, on account of him having form lines with a number of his opponents in the King's Stand. However, admirable and consistent as he is, it is difficult to see him being turning the form around with either Ortensia or Bated Breath and he's probably playing for places at best again.
Robert Cowell's Prohibit, winner of the King's Stand a year ago, is the other main contender from Britain. Prohibit supplemented his 2011 Royal Ascot victory with a good third in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, but he has been below form in two starts at Meydan this year and again disappointed when down the field behind Wizz Kid in the Prix du Gros-Chene at Chantilly last time.
Robert Collet's Wizz Kid was winning the Prix du Gros-Chene for the second year running (had narrowly defeated Prohibit in 2011) and looks one of the few potential improvers in the field, still relatively lightly raced at the age of four. She was an unlucky-in-running fifth in the Nunthorpe Stakes last season and filled the same position in the Prix de l'Abbaye on Arc Weekend, and connections have presumably brought her back with the aim of winning a Group 1, something she should prove capable of.
French-trained Wizz Kid looks one of the over-priced runners in the field at 15.014/1, but the Australians have a strong record in the King's Stand and can register a fifth success courtesy of Ortensia, who looks a good bet at 7.613/2.
Back Ortensia @ 7.613/2 in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot
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