sport

De Kock admits Rain concerns

Mike De Kock admits Soft Falling Rain has not had an ideal preparation ahead of Tuesday's Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Hamdan Al Maktoum's five-year-old had a sensational time in Dubai last year and won the Joel Stakes at Newmarket last September.

He returned to Meydan this spring, with his best effort being a second-placed finish behind his now stablemate Variety Club in the Godolphin Mile.

"He didn't travel well back from Dubai, he was off for a while and 10 important days were lost," said De Kock, the South African who has a satellite stable in Newmarket.

"It's not what you want going into a Group One, without doing the things you needed to do. Hopefully he'll get away with it and can finish in the first four.

"Fast ground will suit. His form's good but whether he's up to running against the likes of Toronado remains to be seen. He will need to up his game."

De Kock is more confident about Shea Shea avenging his narrow defeat to Sole Power in last year's King's Stand Stakes.

"His preparation has been good. I was a lot easier on him in Dubai and hopefully he's a fresh horse," he said.

De Kock explained Variety Club, who has joined from Joey Ramsden, is on the easy list after winning the Champions Mile in Hong Kong.

"We'll probably go to the Breeders' Cup with him, with a prep-run in between," he said. "He might then go back to Hong Kong, but he needed a good rest."

At a Royal Ascot press event in Newmarket on Thursday, it was revealed that a group of American raiders would be arriving in the early evening to stay in the town.

Wesley Ward, who has enjoyed juvenile success in the past, is sending six two-year-olds in Spanish Pipedream, Sunset Glow, Lindy, To Be Determined, Crown The Kitten, Hootenanny and Cordero.

The Kenny McPeek-trained Coronation Stakes entry Rosalind and Joan Scott's King's Stand runner Ancil are also on the charter flight, while California Chrome's jockey Victor Espinoza is expected to be in action on some of the Stateside visitors.