Sixteen horses will line up for Royal Ascot’s traditional curtain raiser, the G1 Queen Anne Stakes, which carries with it the added bonus of an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile for the winner.
Connections of the successful horse will not only collect £367,197 in prize money but$60,000 in entry fees paid for the Mile, a $10,000 Nominator award and a travel allowance of $40,000 for an international winner or $10,000 should the victor come from America.
Previous Queen Anne winners Barathea (1994) and Goldikova (2010) both won the Breeders’ Cup Mile in the same season.
This year’s field is headed by Aidan O’Brien’s 4-year old filly Rhododendron, who will be ridden by world #1 jockey Ryan Moore. The Coolmore star earned her third G1 triumph in the one-mile Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on May 19, her fifth career win.
Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor's hopes for an eighth Queen Anne win rest squarely on the mighty shoulders of the 4-year-old Benbatl, winner of three of four starts in 2018. The bay son of Dubawi was an impressive 3¾-length winner of the G1 Dubai Turf, over nine furlongs at Meydan on World Cup night. He will have Belgian jockey Christophe Soumillon (ranked #10 in the world) on board.
U.S. challenger Yoshida – who is owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, SF Racing and Head of Plains – brings strong form with him after an impressive victory in in his first start in nearly seven months - the G1 Old Forester Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 5.
Elsewhere in the field, David Simcock’s 7-year old Lightning Spear rolled back the years at the Lockinge when falling just a short head behind Rhododendron. Spanish trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias sends Recoletos, winner of both his starts this year, including a G1 score in the nine-furlong Churchill Coolmore Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp on May 27.
The Queen Anne is the sixth Breeders’ Cup Mile qualifier thus far in 2018: Mozu Ascot, won the G1 Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo; Legal Eagle won of the G1 L’Oramins Queen’s Plate at Kenilworth in South Africa; Happy Clapper captured the G1 Star Doncaster Mile at Royal Randwick in Australia; Nuevo Maestro won the G1 Gran Premio Club Hipico Falabella at Club Hipico in Santiago, Chile, and Hunt won the Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita.