AS SHAHRYAR TAKES ON LOCAL SENSATION BAY BRIDGE, JAPAN IS AIMING FOR ITS FIRST ROYAL ASCOT VICTORY


Although there isn't much left for Japanese horses to win in their quest for worldwide dominance, success at Royal Ascot remains at the top of their priority list.

With triumphs at the Breeders' Cup in the United States and the Hong Kong International Races, as well as a dominant performance at the world's richest meeting in Saudi Arabia and success on Globe Cup night in Dubai, Japan has conquered a big portion of the racing world in the last year.

The only time the Land of the Rising Sun has come near to winning at the royal meeting was in 2000, when Agnes World ran second in the King's Stand Stakes, and their most recent runner, Deirdre, placed sixth in the Group One Prince Of Wales's Stakes (2,000m).

On day two of Royal Ascot, the globetrotting Shahryar will aim to make history in that race, which will once again be the focus of Japanese interest.

Last year's Japanese Derby winner handily defeated 2021 Hong Kong Vase quinella combination Glory Vase and Pyledriver in the Group One Sheema Classic in Dubai in March.

Following that triumph, it may come as a surprise to some that British bookmakers have him as the second-favorite for Wednesday's Prince Of Wales's Stakes, with odds of roughly $4.15.

But that is largely due to Bay Bridge's outstanding performance in winning a Group Three at Sandown by an astonishing five lengths on his most recent run.

He is trained by Michael Stoute, who has won a record 82 races at this meeting, and his three-year-old has progressed at a remarkable rate, winning a Newbury handicap from a mark of 90 four starts ago and now competing in Group One company with a rating of 121.

Ryan Moore, a familiar figure to Hong Kong punters, will ride him, and he has a number of chances for Aidan O'Brien and Stoute the rest of the week.

While the day's premier event appears to be a match race, the rest of the card appears to be quite competitive.

The Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (1,600m) features betting more equivalent to an open handicap, and trainer Jane Chapple-Saffron Hyam's Beach might have a huge day as she takes on some of the country's biggest trainers.

The four-year-old filly, who won a Group One race at Newmarket in October and finished fourth against the males in the Group One Dubai Turf in March, returns to competing against her own sex here. She may be the best bet of the day based on ratings.

The 30-runner Royal Hunt Cup (1,600m) is likely to be the most popular race on the calendar, and it's worth paying attention to the first day's racing because the draw can be crucial, with the field taking up the entire Ascot straight.

With 10 of the last 12 winners at odds of 10-1 or higher and no winner since Forgotten Voice in 2009, it pays to think outside the box when it comes to betting on this event.

Etonian, who returns to handicap competition after being outclassed by Baaeed last time, and Aratus, who is stepping up to a mile for the first time, are two horses that could run well at long odds.

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