Shea Shea - Meydan 30.03.2013

Shea Shea will run in the King's Stand, for which he is the 5-2 favourite

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

De Kock shakes up Jubilee as duo miss race

BETTING on the Diamond Jubilee Stakes looks set for a major shake-up after trainer Mike de Kock revealed that neither Shea Shea (6-1) or Soft Falling Rain (12-1), both of whom won on the Dubai World Cup card in March, are likely to run.

The South African maestro confirmed on Monday that Sheikh Hamdan's unbeaten three-year-old Soft Falling Rain, as short as 9-1 for the race, needs more time and will miss Royal Ascot entirely.

Shea Shea, 5-2 ante-post favourite for the King's Stand Stakes on Tuesday, is also vying for favouritism for the Diamond Jubilee. Although De Kock said he is "fairly chuffed" with the progress of Shea Shea, who landed his third Group 1 in the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai, he isn't keen to run the five-year-old twice in a week and will concentrate on Tuesday's race in preference to the longer contest.

"He runs in the King's Stand and I doubt he'll run in the other one," he said. "I wouldn't be at all confident about that. The horse is fresh and well and we got a good bit of work into him on the July Course. I am very happy with him at this stage but it would be hard to run twice in a week and I'm not sure he'd have the legs for that; I think that would be optimistic."

Soft Falling Rain, unbeaten in seven career starts, was a champion juvenile in his native South Africa before recording a hat-trick in Dubai, where he won both the UAE 2,000 Guineas and the Group 2 Godolphin Mile.

Coming to the end of his three-year-old season in southern hemisphere terms, he is one of 15 horses in training for De Kock at Abington Place in Newmarket. "We definitely won't run now at Ascot," said De Kock. "He has just had a hard campaign and he had a month off and he's just not ready. I'd like to have him ready for the July Cup but we'll have to see how it goes.

"It can be a big issue for our horses getting used to working uphill when they come to Newmarket," added De Kock. "In South Africa and Dubai it's all flat and now it's undulating and it's something they've never done, so obviously it has been very different for him, and all the others.

"We find that can be a bigger issue than acclimatisation and we've had problems with horses going unsound in the past. It does involve physiological changes and as he's a young horse, we didn't want to force the issue with him."

THINK Flat racing and most think of Royal Ascot. The hats - running the gamut from stunning to misguided - the pageantry, the Queen in her carriage, the tops 'n' tails, the champagne on lush green lawns and, not forgetting, the incredible racing come together to form one of Britain's most iconic sporting events.

Over five days in mid-June the nation's great and good descend upon the royal racetrack for an occasion rich in every sense - in heritage, in sporting merit,and in the vast array of wealth represented by the crowds of dukes, earls and oligarchs strutting before the grandstand.

For mere mortals Royal Ascot is a chance to watch and wonder at the elaborate outfits donned at the Berkshire racecourse and watch in wonder as the cream of British and Irish Flat talent square off against each other and - increasingly - the steady stream of raiders from Australia, America and other corners of the globe.

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