Eleven For King George, Ascot Now Soft

Auguste RodinPA Media


Eleven high-quality runners will make up one of the greatest renewals of the G1 King George VI And Queen Elizabeth II Qipco S. in recent memory on Saturday, with Desert Crown (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) the biggest missing name among them. Saeed Suhail's troubled 2022 Derby hero's leg infection means that the keenly-anticipated clash of the last two Blue Riband winners in the Ascot monument is cruelly denied, while the three other withdrawals disappointingly include the sole French challenger Simca Mille (Ire) (Tamayuz {GB}), whose chance was put paid to by the 17mm of rain which fell overnight.

Aidan O'Brien removed two of his back-up entries Broome (Ire) (Australia {GB}) and Adelaide River (Ire) (Australia {GB}), leaving four from the stable headed by the dual Derby hero Auguste Rodin (Ire) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) under Ryan Moore. As far as his draw is concerned, it was far from bad news for connections with the race's key 3-year-old in the widest stall. Ascot's renowned bias for middle to high numbers over this mile-and-a-half trip is even more pronounced on ground as easy as looks certain to prevail for Saturday's behemoth contest. There have been very few King Georges with double-figure fields of late, but it is notable that Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}), Poet's Word (Ire) (Poet's Voice {GB}) and Postponed (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) were all posted wide in years when there were more than six runners.

Ascot's heavy overnight rain turned the ground officially to soft on Thursday and with the prospect of more scattered showers to interrupt any drying effect, this year's renewal could be tough going for some but not for the likes of Shadwell's Hukum (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}). Not best drawn in four, the 6-year-old full-brother to Baaeed (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) could nevertheless start favourite as the least likely of the race's big contenders to be inconvenienced by easy conditions. Jockey Jim Crowley is happy with the ground, but said, “He's in good form and I just want good-to-soft or good, no one wants heavy for any horse,” he said.

Hukum is next to Amo Racing's Derby runner-up and G2 King Edward VII S. winner and other 3-year-old presence King Of Steel (Wootton Bassett {GB}) in three, while the G1 Coronation Cup one-two Emily Upjohn (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) and Westover (GB) (Frankel {GB}) fared better in eight and 10, respectively. Ballydoyle's quartet includes the G1 Irish Champion S. and G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup hero Luxembourg (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) in stall one, with Seamie Heffernan reunited with him for the first time since the 2021 G2 Beresford S., while Adam Kirby has been booked for Point Lonsdale (Ire) (Australia {GB}) in stall five. He is next to last year's winner Pyledriver (GB) (Harbour Watch {Ire}) in the middle in six, with Hamish (GB) (Motivator {GB}) in seven. In a twist, Desert Crown's regular rider Richard Kingscote, who was due to be replaced by William Buick on the subsequently-withdrawn Stoute luminary, has been booked for the Haggas's veteran mud-lover.

King Of Steel's owner Kia Joorabchian is relishing taking part in such a deep contest. “This is going to be one of the best races for centuries,” he said. “He's been fantastic, but I hope the ground doesn't get too heavy and we'll see a much more realistic race if it's not. He runs on both types of ground and for a big horse is light on his feet and loves his racing. He's still three, so whatever happens at the weekend he has a long way to go and the end target is the Breeders' Cup.”

Clerk of the Course Chris Stickels is expecting a slight firming up of conditions and said, “There is a chance of a passing shower–a light shower today and an occasional shower possible on both Friday and Saturday–but we are not talking about much volume of rainfall, so I expect conditions to improve a little, given a breezy and warmer forecast, with temperatures between 21C (70F) and 24C (75F).”

Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.

Copy Article Link

Liked this article? Read more like this.

  1. Inaugural Timeform Awards Announced
  2. Making Waves: Breeders' Cup Bonanza For Team Europe
  3. Equinox Tops Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings
  4. 2023 Cartier Racing Awards Finalists Announced
  5. Breeders' Cup 40 is Here!

Never miss another story from the TDN

Click Here to sign up for a free subscription.