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Duke Of Firenze - Epsom 01/06/2013

Wow factor: Duke Of Firenze (red top) scorches home in the Dash at Epsom on Derby day

  PICTURE: Getty Images  

Royal Ascot: Speed kings centre stage on final day

SPRINTERS take centre stage as the final act of Royal Ascot is played out on Saturday when two of Newmarket's fastest - Society Rock and Duke Of Firenze - aim to take home two of the big prizes.

Society Rock has previous, having won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in 2011 before running a luckless fifth to Black Caviar last year.

He's back for more in the Group 1 dash and comes to the meeting in top form after winning the Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes last month under his big-race partner Kieren Fallon.

Trainer James Fanshawe said: "I have been very happy with him coming into the race. The ground isn't an issue as there was ease in it when he won at Ascot two years ago and it was firm when he won the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock.

"It's a big field and so it's going to be tough but his form stands up and he looks really well."

Chief among Society Rock's rivals are Prix de la Foret winner and Sprint Cup runner-up Gordon Lord Byron, Group 1-winning Aussie speedball Sea Siren, Duke Of York runner up Lethal Force and last year's Wokingham winner Dandy Boy.

This year's Wokingham takes place directly after the Diamond Jubilee and marks the reappearance of Duke Of Firenze, who unleashed the wow factor on Derby day with a blitzing late rush to win the Dash having traded at 1000 in running.

He's vying for favouritism for another mad scramble and connections fear a draw hard against the stands' rail will scupper their chances. They could take heart from the outcome of the 27-runner Buckingham Palace Stakes on the same straight course on Friday when the winner, Lightning Cloud, broke from the same stall that will house Duke Of Firenze.

John Marsh, senior manager at Cheveley Park Stud, owners of both Duke Of Firenze and Ladyship, who has drawn stall 17, said: "It's a tough task for Duke Of Firenze and his draw (stall 31) is not ideal as he's right on the rail.

"He's in good form, Sir Michael [Stoute] is happy, but the draw is a concern. Ladyship will have her day. Everything will have to go right for her as she's right in the middle, but there is nowhere else to go with her and she's a good horse."

The official going at Ascot was maintained at good to firm at the end of racing on Friday.

Chris Stickels, clerk of the course, said: "We are not going to water tonight. The forecast is to possibly have the odd shower or two tomorrow."

 
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