Animal Kingdom’s chances of swanning off into his stud career with a third Group 1 win in Royal Ascot’s Queen Anne Stakes received a significant boost with news that chief rival Farrh will miss the meeting having been found to be lame.
Last seen when a comfortable winner of the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes over 1m at Newbury, Farhh had emerged as the most credible opponent the American Dubai World Cup winner was likely to face.
Animal Kingdom has never won over 1m dead at any level and whilst he came a narrow second to Wise Dan in last season’s Breeder’s Cup Mile on the Santa Anita turf, he would have potentially been vulnerable to defeat against members of the highest echelon of world-level milers such as Saeed Bin Suroor’s five-year-old.
Farhh’s defection follows the withdrawal of Roger Charlton’s Cityscape and leaves Elusive Kate as his next best challenger on Racing Post ratings.
John Gosden’s filly has put in some strong runs in defeat against the colts – none more so than a one-and-a-half length third to the then 125-rated Excelebration in a Deauville Group 1 on her preferred good ground last autumn – and it’s possible that the market underrates her chance at 12/1, amidst a dearth of top quality rivals for place honours.
The Aidan O’Brien duo Declaration Of War and Most Improved sit in front of Elusive Kate in the betting, but both have questions to answer.
The former is tried at the top level again after finishing a disappointing fifth behind Farrh when a well-backed favourite in the Lockinge, whilst the latter was hammered in two of his three races since winning at this meeting last year.
Most Improved – a 10/1 shot – is the only other runner in the field to have scored at the top level in mixed gender company, with Giofra and Beauty Parlour scoring their Group 1 successes in fillies and mares contests.
Given the race’s lack of strength in depth, 4/5 looks a fair price about Animal Kingdom swelling his stud value with a first Group 1 success over 1m.
Whilst there may be doubts over whether H. Graham Motion’s entire is at his very best over 1m, his Breeder’s Cup second – in which he was denied a clear run before flying home to grab second behind a course record-setting winner – suggests he’s more than up to winning what could be a weak race for this level.