Tuesday 16 June 2015

Ascot braced for 'Chromies' invasion

There are not too many racehorses who can claim to have their very own band of followers charting every move they make.
American superstar California Chrome is one such horse. Winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in the States last year, he was named 2014 US Horse of the Year after failing to land the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes and valiantly going down fighting in the Breeders' Cup Classic in November.
So devout are the followers of unlikely big-time success story California Chrome, they have become known as 'Chromies'.
Royal Ascot is a million miles removed from the Stetson-inhabited world of California Chrome's part-owner Steve Coburn.
Arriving at Newmarket to oversee his horse's final preparation for Ascot, Coburn acknowledged he would be swapping the Stetson for the top hat and tails in time for the Prince of Wales's Stakes on day two of five-day extravaganza.
Trainer Art Sherman touched down on British soil and, having reviewed California Chrome's Bet fair odds for the 1m2f Ascot contest, declared it would be "the toughest race of his life".
Regularly a short-priced favourite to win his races, California Chrome is set to go off at double figures odds in a race containing Dermot Weld's Free Eagle and Kevin Ryan's The Grey Gatsby.
Sherman acknowledged that the Ascot turf is going to be a different test to anything California Chrome has faced in his career to date.
Having spent over a month at Rae Guest's Newmarket yard in preparation for the Prince of Wales, the four-year-old has had plenty time to settle in and all reports have been positive.
Bred for a paltry fee in the Unites States, California Chrome is the original underdog story. Small-time owners hitting the big time and proving that the small guys can also live out the big dreams.
Victory at Ascot would cement the fairytale story of this American dream horse. Having acquired William Buick to ride at Ascot, Coburn is convinced fate is on his side.”