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'It won't make any difference' – Fahey on wide Ribchester draw
19 Jun 2017 | 

Richard Fahey has played down the significance of the draw despite Queen Anne Stakes favourite Ribchester being set the task of winning from one of the outside positions in the joint-biggest field for the race in modern times.

The Lockinge Stakes winner drew stall one on Sunday, on the far side of the straight mile, and is also nine stalls away from stablemate and fellow Godolphin-owned Toscanini, who is in the 16-strong field as a potential pacemaker.

Ribchester was not the only favourite to draw wide, with Lady Aurelia getting stall 18 of 18 for the King's Stand Stakes, one of three Group 1 prizes on the first day of the royal meeting on Tuesday, when the stalls on the straight course will be in the centre.

Ribchester did not need Toscanini – who was very slowly away – in the Lockinge, where he made all to beat Lightning Spear, and Fahey said: "I don't think the draw will make any difference."

With Lockinge runner-up Lightning Spear drawing 14 and his likely pacemaker Dutch Uncle in stall five, Fahey joked: "We'll see if we can get together and swap it round!"

The last time there were 16 starters in the Queen Anne was in 2004, when Refuse To Bend overcame his own wide draw as the field congregated towards the stands' rail.

William Buick steered Ribchester to a comfortable win over Lightning Spear at Newbury and does not expect him to turn the tables.

He said: "Ribchester is coming to the Queen Anne off the back of a brilliant win in the Lockinge, in which he showed just how versatile he is in his style of running.

"He gives me the impression he's still improving, and with that in mind he should again hold Lightning Spear.

"He handled the soft ground very well that day, but he'll be just as much at home on fast ground. It was officially good to firm when he finished a close third to The Gurkha in the Sussex last year."

The 2,000 Guineas winner Churchill will face seven in the St James's Palace Stakes, with Barney Roy and Rivet, the mount of Andrea Atzeni, in opposition.

Lady Aurelia's opponents include Marsha, Signs Of Blessing, Priceless and last year's first and second Profitable and Cotai Glory.

Declarations for Wednesday's Group 1 highlight, the Prince of Wales's Stakes, are made on Monday morning and Highland Reel, who also has the Hardwicke entry, looks set to be among them.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien said on Sunday: "We'll decide in the morning but it's very likely that we'll declare Highland Reel for the Prince of Wales's Stakes on Wednesday."

Watering was due to resume at Ascot on Sunday night to ensure conditions remain good to firm, good in places, following a hot weekend.

Clerk of the course Chris Stickels said on Sunday afternoon: "We finished watering on Saturday lunchtime and are about to start again on the round course and then in the morning up the straight.

"There's a minor risk of occasional thunderstorms, perhaps Tuesday. There was a risk today but it hasn't materialised. The course is in lovely condition. To maintain good to firm, if we don't get any thundery shows we could water again on Tuesday night and then take it from there."

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