Great expectations for Frankel

Frankel is to face eight rivals as he bids to take his reputation to greater heights in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot tomorrow.

The brilliant all-the-way winner of the 2000 Guineas puts his 100 per cent record on the line as he goes for a third Group One success and a seventh career victory in all.

"Frankel seems very well and hopefully he will have a very good chance of continuing his unbeaten winning run," recently-knighted trainer Sir Henry Cecil said on his website. "He has been hailed as a future champion and if he can go on from where he left off and confirms that status, it will be great for racing."

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However, Khalid Abdullah's magnificent colt will be taken on by strong opposition as other three-year-olds attempt to knock him off his pedestal.

Richard Hannon's Dubawi Gold, who was six lengths behind Frankel in second place at Newmarket, takes him on again after also occupying the runner-up spot in the Irish 2000 Guineas.

Aidan O'Brien, who won the Curragh Classic with Roderic O'Connor, relies on Zoffany.

David Simcock's Dream Ahead could finally make his seasonal debut as connections look for suitable ground conditions, while Richard Fahey is keen to give Wootton Bassett another chance after he could only finish fifth in the French 2000 Guineas.

Marco Botti's well-touted German 2000 Guineas winner Excelebration, Japanese challenger Grand Prix Boss, Neebraas, trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni, and Barry Hills' Rerouted complete the line-up. The four horses withdrawn at the final declaration stage were Alexander Pope, Fury, Tazahum and Temps Au Temps.

Meanwhile, John McCririck has called for Sir Henry Cecil to receive his knighthood in the parade ring at this week's Royal meeting.

The Channel 4 and At The Races pundit believes it would be the perfect setting for the Queen to honour the highly-popular trainer.

"Imagine the Queen conferring the knighthood on Sir Henry Cecil this week in the paddock at Royal Ascot," said McCririck. "Just as Queen Elizabeth I dubbed Sir Francis Drake at Plymouth Hoe in 1588, after a game of bowls, so Her Majesty could honour racing's latest knight uniquely at her beloved Ascot.

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"She has attended all 67 meetings since 1945, and here, rather than during an exclusive traditional investiture at Buckingham Palace, would be acclaimed worldwide.

"After the Royal wedding, the first Royal visit to Ireland for 100 years, hosting President Obama and the Derby drama with Carlton House, tapping a kneeling Sir Henry with her sword as a tumultuous crowd erupted in enthusiastic delight, must be priceless for Britain's image worldwide. Every media outlet would seize upon the spectacle. Not only would racing be splashed over the sports pages, but the front pages, all TV and radio bulletins, magazines and the internet for an historic, unforgettable Royal memory."

Royal Ascot 2011 will start with a clash of the titans as Goldikova takes on Canford Cliffs in the Queen Anne Stakes tomorrow. The star milers are among a field of seven declared for the contest that opens the five-day extravaganza at the Berkshire track.

Freddie Head's Goldikova, winner of 13 Group Ones including this race last year and the Prix d'Ispahan on her return, will be accompanied by her pacemaker Flash Dance. Canford Cliffs, who has won at the last two Royal meetings, started this season with success in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

His trainer Richard Hannon has, however, taken out Dick Turpin, who was the only absentee at the final declaration. Aidan O'Brien's Cape Blanco, last year's Irish Derby and Irish Champion Stakes victor, drops back to a distance below a mile and a quarter for the first time since his two-year-old days. Godolphin's Rio De La Plata, Barry Hills-trained Ransom Note and Roger Charlton's Cityscape complete the field.