Hayes looks to lead Australian assault on Ascot

Long cherished as a definitively British occasion, Royal Ascot is nowadays the most international meeting in the European calendar. Since the pioneering success of Choisir in 2003, overseas raiders have discovered a particular deficiency in the indigenous sprinters. Last year Wesley Ward arrived from California to press home the same advantage in the juvenile division.

The Americans are back for more next week, notably with Noble's Promise, the Kentucky Derby fifth, who contests the St James's Palace Stakes on Tuesday. Their stories will repay more detailed consideration but yesterday the focus was on the Australians, who have dominated the Global Sprint Challenge since its inception in 2005.

They have been joined, for the first time, by their outstanding trainer in David Hayes. He reckons Nicconi the best sprinter he has trained and has booked Frankie Dettori for the King's Stand on Tuesday. "I've been dying to put a visor on the horse for two years," Hayes said. "And he'll be wearing one for the first time next week. History's in his favour, but he is coming off two unplaced runs. When he wins, he wins well, but he can have a shocker, too so you can't be too confident."

Nicconi was one of several Newmarket lodgers to breeze during a media open morning. A dual Group One winner on home soil, Nicconi is excused those two recent failures by his trainer. "The first race was run in shocking conditions," Hayes explained. "There was a storm, and not one horse passed another in the final 600 metres – a herd mentality took over. Then I ran him back too quick, just two weeks later. He has won our premier sprint, he's undefeated first time up, and undefeated over five furlongs. I think the race will get more publicity in Australia than here. It has created a lot of interest, and people will be staying up all night to watch it."

Lining up alongside will be Gold Trail, trained in Sydney by Gary Portelli. He was fourth over an extra furlong in Singapore on his way here. "I lost my voice watching that race," explains Portelli. "Rocket Man is probably the best sprinter in the world and he dropped him off the bend, but I was brought back to earth by the 100-metre pole. He has not raced over the trip before but I think it will suit him."

The leading home candidate is probably Kingsgate Native, whose team continues in great form after Workforce's spectacular Derby performance. Sir Michael Stoute had another double at Newbury yesterday, and Ryan Moore rode another pair for Jeremy Noseda and John Gosden.

The French have a formidable hand for next week's meeting and Byword, trained by Andre Fabre, is favourite for the Prince of Wales's Stakes on Wednesday. Rip Van Winkle was also among the 13 acceptors, but is thought more likely to go for the Queen Anne Stakes on the opening day. His trainer, Aidan O'Brien, resisted any temptation to leave Fame And Glory in the race after his hard race to win at Epsom last Friday.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Plume (9.0 Goodwood) Hinted that she is on a very indulgent mark when hacking through the race before running green on her reappearance over 7f, and looks sure to appreciate this drop back in trip.

Next best

King's Masque (8.40 Chepstow) Flourishing for his new stable and gave the impression he had plenty in hand over course and distance last time, having gone well through the race, so a 6lbs higher mark should prove manageable.

One to watch

Verdant (Sir Michael Stoute) Got the Workforce team off to a frustrating start on Derby day, hampered and having to go back down the gears before finishing powerfully for third.

Where the money's going

Dandy Boy, a winner of one big Ascot handicap this season, is 8-1 from 9-1 with Sky Bet for the Hunt Cup next week.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us