Frankel, Black Caviar set to dazzle at Royal Ascot
LONDON (AP) -- It's Frankel versus Black Caviar at Royal Ascot this week - just not in the same race.
The top-ranked horse in the world, Frankel, and Australian sensation Black Caviar can both extend their unbeaten records at the five-day meet after their much-anticipated showdown failed to materialize.
Frankel is at 1-6 with bookmakers to improve to 11-0 in the 11-horse field of the 1-mile Queen Anne Stakes on the opening day Tuesday.
The 4-year-old colt has built such a considerable following that his handlers say they are feeling the pressure of expectation, but they vow not to disappoint his fans.
"You always feel nerves with horses like that, he has a great following and you don't want to let anyone down," Frankel's trainer, Henry Cecil, told At The Races. "I'm very proud of what he's achieved, we're lucky to have him.
"People love champions, whatever the sport ... so let's hope he continues."
Queen Elizabeth II, celebrating the Diamond Jubilee to mark her 60-year reign, is expected to attend a race every day of the meet. The $7 million in prize money is up 20 percent from 2011.
The handlers of Black Caviar know all about high expectations ahead of the 5-year-old mare's first international race, the 6-furlong Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes on Saturday.
Black Caviar recently broke a long-standing Australian record for consecutive wins, eclipsing the 19 victories of Desert Gold from 1915-17 and of Gloaming from 1919-21.
Owned by a consortium of families and friends in Melbourne, Black Caviar is unbeaten in 21 starts.
"Everything has gone to plan so far with her," said Jeff O'Connor, the racing manager for Black Caviar. "We've covered a lot at home and achieved everything we wanted to achieve there. Winning at Ascot, that is a pretty big thing."
Cecil thinks Frankel, who was rated the best horse for at least the past 25 years by the British Horseracing Authority last month, is special because of his long stride.
"You can see when he's racing, he's taking one stride while the others are having to just do that little bit extra to keep up with him," Cecil said. "The idea is not to win by massive margins, but as long as he can win nicely that would be fantastic."
O'Connor said Black Caviar is in a similar position with little to prove.
"There's nothing for her to add to on top of her record. We know she's a champion," he said. "If she was 17 from 21 maybe we'd be able to enjoy it more with the pressure off, but she's an unbeaten horse."
The Queen's horse, Carlton House, will run in the Prince of Wales's Stakes on Wednesday. The 4-year-old is trained by Michael Stoute, finishing third in last year's Epsom Derby and fourth in the Irish Derby before winning at Sandown.
Excelebration is Frankel's main rival in the Queen Anne Stakes despite finishing behind the favorite four times this season already.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained horse got closest when Frankel was ridden aggressively at this course and over this distance in last year's St James's Palace Stakes.
Another hoping to pick up some prize money is Charlie Hills, trainer of Red Jazz.
"Obviously with Frankel running, we are part of the race for second," Hills said.