KINGSCLERE horse racing trainer Andrew Balding will saddle a total of 21 runners at Royal Ascot, which gets under way this afternoon.

Balding has horses in action on every day of the world-famous meeting, including one in the Gold Cup, the stand-out race of the week.

The Kingsclere trainer will hope that six-year-old Whiplash Willie can defy odds of 66-1 to win the 2m 4f race, with the horses heading to the start at 4.25pm on Thursday.

Before that, he has three horses in action this afternoon. Two of them will compete in the opening race of the meeting, the Queen Anne Stakes, a 1m race due to begin at 2.30pm.

Tullius is a 12-1 shot, while Side Glance, who won the grade one Longines Mackinnon Stakes in Australia last year, is rated at 33-1.

Balding looks set to saddle the favourite for the Ascot Stakes, a 2m 4f race that gets under way at 5pm, with Ballinderry Boy currently the 7-1 top-priced runner.

The Kingsclere trainer has another three horses in action tomorrow. Here Comes When and Stirring Ballad are entered in the 1m Royal Hunt Cup at 5pm, with Alumina due to race in the Sandringham Handicap, another 1m race, 35 minutes later.

Balding has seven horses entered for races on Gold Cup day. In addition to Whiplash Willie in the big race, Scotland and Signposted are due to run in the Tercentenary Stakes, Zampa Manos and Born in Bombay are entered for the Britannia Stakes and Storm Force Ten and Belfilo are down to run in the King George V Stakes.

Scotland and Signposted are also entered for the King Edward VII Stakes on the following day, but are unlikely to run in both races.

Balding’s other Friday runners are Butterfly McQueen in the Wolferton Handicap, Montaly in the Queen’s Vase and Intransigent and Zanetto in the Buckingham Palace Stakes.

The Kingsclere trainer has five horses entered for races on the final day of the meeting. Soviet Rock is down to run in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes, while Absolutely So and Purcell are entered for the Wokingham Stakes.

Havana Beat could be joined in the Queen Alexandra Stakes by Whiplash Willie, though he is unlikely to run if he competes in the Gold Cup.