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Homeracing

California Chrome could face 10 in Prince of Wales's at Royal Ascot

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

June 11th, 2015

The likely field for Wednesday's Prince of Wales's S. (Eng-G1) at Royal Ascot is beginning to come into sharper focus -- and along with it, the magnitude of the task facing California Chrome.

At the six-day entry stage, the robust international cast includes Dermot Weld's highly regarded Free Eagle (currently the antepost favorite trading around 3-1); The Grey Gatsby,  who defeated Australia in last year's Irish Champion (Ire-G1); Japan's Spielberg, who beat Gentildonna in the Tenno Sho Autumn (Jpn-G1); French Group 1 star Ectot, who toppled both Karakontie and Adelaide in 2014; compatriot Gailo Chop, most recently second to the streaking Solow; John Gosden's duo of Western Hymn and Eagle Top (who is expected to opt for the June 20 Hardwicke [Eng-G2] instead); Australian multiple Group 1 hero Criterion, who has taken his game abroad with a couple of fine thirds in Group 1s at Sha Tin; the stealthy Cannock Chase from the Sir Michael Stoute yard; and the upwardly mobile The Corsican representing David Simcock.

By glancing at that list, you can see why California Chrome's price ranges from 8-1 to as high as 12-1, depending on the bookmaker.

Team Chrome has been quite candid about the nature of this challenge.

Last week, Alan Sherman didn't mince words when speaking to Chris Cook of The Guardian:

Obviously, we'd rather be home and running there.

It's not our decision, that was up to the owners [i.e., majority owner Perry Martin] and we're just going to do what we can that's best for the horse.

He's running against the best turf horses in the world, so. Like I said, he's a hard trier. If he's not good enough, he's not good enough.

During Thursday's press conference at Newmarket featuring a number of international connections, Team Chrome maintained an upbeat, positive tone while remaining diplomatically realistic.

Trainer Art Sherman:

We are going to try our best in the Prince of Wales's S. It is very competitive and we know how tough it is going to be. I am just hoping he can hit the board.

Co-owner/breeder Steve Coburn:

California Chrome was very tired after running in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1), and we were hoping to get him back to the States and prepare him for races leading up to the Breeders' Cup. And my partner, Perry Martin, decided to send him here to England, where he has been in good hands and is training well. California Chrome will give every ounce of his heart when he runs -- he always does...

This is probably going to be the toughest race of his life. Everything is new to him -- the course is new, the running up hill and downhill is new, and so it is going to be tough. He always tries his best -- he gives 100 percent of his heart every time. If this horse come out of the race sound, I will be happy.

As I've written before about Chrome's Royal Ascot bid, I very much appreciate a bold impulse to think internationally. I'm just not persuaded that this spot would put Chrome in the best light.

Now I'll crawl back into my research bubble and keep preparing for next week's Brisnet Daily Selections for Royal Ascot. As ever, my colleague Vance Hanson and I will be dividing up the five-day meeting between us, and posting our handicapping thoughts in the Daily Selections area on Brisnet.com.

And of course, stay tuned to the blog for additional comments and observations.

Photo of California Chrome on Thursday morning courtesy of @Ascot twitter feed.

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