06/18/2010 12:00AM

Kinsale King faces daunting task


It's Kinsale King versus the world at Royal Ascot on Saturday when the Dubai Golden Shaheen winner faces 23 rivals from six different countries in the Group 1, $665,000 Golden Jubilee Stakes. The six-furlong sprint has drawn most of the best turf sprinters from around the globe in a race in which nothing can be taken for granted.

Kinsale King will break from post 9 on the stands side of the gate with Kieren Fallon aboard in an effort to win for the fifth time in a row at the distance. Trained by Carl O'Callaghan, Kinsale King faces a number of obstacles, however. This will be his first try on turf, his first outing on a straight course, and his first race in Europe. He must also overcome a 14-week layoff, yet he might just be good enough to win.

Kinsale King was shipped from Dubai to Hollywood after his Golden Shaheen victory over Singapore hotshot Rocket Man.

On his way to England, he stopped over at Belmont for a few days, where Fallon arrived from England to partner him in a sharp 48.55-second, four-furlong main-track work on June 3. He has been training at Newmarket for the past 10 days and will be vanned the 73 miles to Ascot on Friday morning.

Showcasing is an up-and-coming 3-year-old who will go off as the favorite even though he was beaten a half-length into second in the six-furlong, Group 2 Duke of York Stakes by Prime Defender, who also goes here. By Oasis Dream, Showcasing will be making just his sixth career start and has a world of improvement in him.

The selection, however, is Starspangledbanner. An Australian-bred Group 1 winner Down Under, he is now trained in Ireland by Aidan O'Brien. He gave considerable weight on the scale when he was fifth, beaten two lengths, in the Duke of York. Johnny Murtagh will ride.

Hong Kong raider Happy Zero will have his backers, but he finished behind Rocket Man when third in the Krisflyer Sprint, a race in which his countrymate Joy and Fun was only sixth after a win in Meydan's Al Quoz Sprint. The lone Australian runner, Alverta, is coming off a Group 1 victory at a mile at Rosehill and may lack the necessary pace.

Four entries from France, a country hardly known for its sprinters, are led by 2008 European sprint champ Marchand d'Or, who won the five-furlong, Group 3 Prix de Saint-Georges two back, and Varenar, who beat Goldikova in the Prix de La Foret last fall. Not to be overlooked is the speedy Jeremy Noseda-trained Fleeting Spirit, a filly who has beaten males in four group race sprints.

As an aid to handicapping, the best Racing Post ratings of the principals are: Kinsale King 124 (on synthetics), Marchand d'Or 123, Fleeting Spirit 122, Happy Zero 121, Joy and Fun 120, Starspangledbanner 120, and Showcasing 116.

Saturday's opener features the Ken McPeek-trained Casper's Touch in the listed, seven-furlong Chesham Stakes, but victory for this Touch Gold colt would be a big upset. He finished 9 1/2 lengths fourth behind Metropolitan Man in his lone start at Keeneland, and Metropolitan Man struggled in finishing ninth in the listed Windsor Castle Stakes on Tuesday.

The Group 2, $185,000 Hardwicke Stakes at 1 1/2 miles for older horses looks ready-made for the improving Harbinger, a 4-year-old son of Dansili. Yet another of Michael Stoute's seemingly endless supply of top-class middle distance horses, he has looked terrific winning the Group 3 John Porter Stakes and the Group 3 Ormonde Stakes this spring. This modest step up in class is well within his grasp, and with Ryan Moore aboard, he should take the measure of Crowded House, Jukebox Jury, and Claremont, all of whom have disappointed of late, as well as Alainmaar, who has won four in a row in lesser company.