Opening-day duel should be ideal for fans

RACING fans are in for a real treat if the clash between Solow and Able Friend in the Queen Anne Stakes lives up to the hype.

The Royal Ascot curtain raiser over the straight mile embodies all that is great about the five-day meeting, bringing together horses from all corners of the globe to clash with established domestic stars, headed by last season’s 2000 Guineas hero Night Of Thunder.

Hong Kong champion Able Friend is rated the best miler in the world and has been unextended in winning his last six races.

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Meanwhile French raider Solow was a most impressive winner at Meydan on Dubai World Cup night and he landed the Group One Prix d’Ispahan without coming under any real pressure in his only race since.

Trained by Freddy Head, who is no stranger to success at Ascot, Solow will aim to get favourite-backers off to the perfect start.

“There’s no doubt he’s a very good horse,” said Head. “He’s as well as he was when he won in Dubai, so I’m very confident, but I know it’s going to be a real tough race. Able Friend has been impressive in all his races.”

As well as travelling nearly 6,000 miles from Hong Kong, Able Friend will find Ascot’s vast expanse a new experience compared to the sharp turns of Sha Tin. Whatever the result, his connections should be commended for taking on the challenge with a horse who has nothing left to achieve at home. Jockey Joao Moreira said: “Whoever wins this will be rated one of the best horses in the world.”