AFTER a miserable week thus far at Royal Ascot, the all-powerful Aidan O’Brien stable will have to rely on former Australian sprinter Starspangledbanner to restore some prestige in Saturday night’s (AET) Group 1 $A780,000 Golden Jubilee Stakes (1200m).

Now racing in the colours of Coolmore Stud after changing hands for $A10 million, this season’s Caulfield Guineas and Oakleigh Plate winner is one of the stable’s few remaining chances of Group 1 success at the famous UK carnival.

It’s unfamiliar territory for the champion Irish trainer who has dominated headlines at Royal Ascot over recent years with the now retired Yeats winning four successive Ascot Gold Cups.

O’Brien-trained horses have gone close on several occasions this week without winning and it was not only their jockey Johnny Murtagh who was feeling ill after Age Of Aquarius went down by a neck to Rite Of Passage last night (AET) in the 2010 Gold Cup.

Starspangledbanner, the former Leon Corstens-trained three-year-old, is O’Brien’s only starter in the Golden Jubilee which doubles as the third leg of the rich Global Sprint Challenge.

Another ex-pat in the field is dual Australian Group 2 winner Fravashi who now races out of Europe for the powerful Godolphin stable and will be ridden by Frankie Dettori.

The overseas-trained horses in a bumper field of 24 are Australian mare Alverta, Hong Kong representatives Happy Zero and Joy And Fun and Kinsale King from the USA.

Alverta, trained in NSW by Paul Messara, has drawn barrier 18 but the wide draws over the straight 1200 metres have not proven a disadvantage over the first three days of the Carnival.

Starspangledbanner, who finished fifth on debut for O’Brien last month, has come up with barrier four with Murtagh engaged to ride.

Joy And Fun has drawn barrier one, Happy Zero is in gate eight for Australian jockey Darren Beadman and Kinsale King, the winner of Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen (1200m) at his most recent start, is drawn alongside in nine.

On paper, the Golden Jubilee looks a stronger race than Tuesday’s Group 1 $A520,000 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m) in which the Australians Nicconi and Gold Trail were unplaced.

Despite that loss Nicconi’s trainer David Hayes has announced overnight that the horse may yet run in the Group 1 Darley July Cup (1200m) – the fourth leg of the Global Sprint Challenge – at Newmarket, UK on 19 July.

“He will have to go into quarantine the day after the July Cup with a shuttle of Coolmore horses but there is now a chance he could start in the race,” Hayes said of the rising five-year-old stallion who will debut at Widden Stud this breeding season.

“He didn’t take any harm from the King’s Stand and as long as he continues to work well we’ll probably give it a go now.”

After the news that Dermot Weld’s Ascot Gold Cup winner Rite Of Passage is headed down under for the 150th Emirates Melbourne Cup, one or two travelling companions could emerge for the Irish stayer on Saturday night’s support card.

Most interest will centre on the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Harbinger, who is part-owned by VRC committeeman Peter Barnett and will line up in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes (2400m) in search of his third straight victory.



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