THE King’s Stand Stakes is a feature on the opening day of Royal Ascot, and Houtzen will bid for victory for Australia in the big sprint on Tuesday.
 
The Toby Edmonds-trained Houtzen is one of the international brigade trying to take the prize along with New Zealand’s Enzo Lad and American galloper Imprimis. 
 
The trio might be chancing their arm at the Royal Meeting, but the first three horses home in the 2018 renewal all square off again and look the one to concentrate on.
 
Blue Point is taken to successfully defend the crown he won twelve months ago, beating Battash and Mabs Cross for top honours.
 
Godolphin’s Shamardal entire ran out a two lengths winner on his first start following a short break, having failed to fire when contesting the Group One Chairman’s Sprint at Sha Tin in April; he had finished runner-up the time before behind Ertijaal in the Meydan Sprint back in February prior to that Royal Ascot success.
 
Things didn’t go to plan in two subsequent outings for Charlie Appleby’s star sprinter, and he could only finish seventh in that season’s July Cup behind US Navy Flag, and third to Alpha Delfini and Mabs Cross in the Nunthorpe although perhaps being drawn away from the pace didn’t help his cause.
 
Having wintered in Dubai, he went 3-3 at Meydan which culminated in a defeat of Belvoir Bay to win the Al Quoz Sprint, and he will return to Royal Ascot to defend his crown as a fresh horse having not been seen since.
 
He has a very decent record when fresh, and he is 3-4 at Ascot with his sole defeat at the Berkshire venue coming behind Caravaggio in the 2017 Commonwealth Cup.
 
The  rain in the days leading up to the opening day of the Royal Ascot meeting is a slight worry, and the Godolphin runner won’t want more of the wet stuff given his best form has come on top of the ground. 
 
But he can confirm last season’s winning run with Battash and Mabs Cross who can follow him home again.  – justracing.com.au.

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