Ascot’s G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2392m) has rarely let down those who claim it is the most spectacular race of the European summer and, with the likes of Love, Adayar and Mishriff amongst the intended participants, Saturday’s (24 July) renewal looks like another thriller in waiting.
Fillies have an excellent King George record and Love may well start favourite to stretch her G1 winning spree to five, having returned from a 300-day break with a sparkling victory in Royal Ascot’s G1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes (1993m), which followed last year’s three-race winning spree – the total winning distances of those being 18 ¼ lengths, an extraordinary achievement in itself.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien describes Love as “genuine, brave and very special.”, adding: “She was used to going left-handed but was comfortable right-handed at Ascot and you would imagine that the extra two furlongs won’t be a disadvantage.”
Ryan Moore’s mount is a daughter of the momentous former racehorse and stallion Galileo – who sadly passed away earlier this month – and, though not many have tried, rival Adayar will endeavour to become the first horse since Galileo in 2001 to win both the Derby (2405m) at Epsom and the King George.
Adayar was ‘under the radar’ before Epsom but, under a tenacious ride from late jockey-booking Adam Kirby, darted up a gap on the rails and powered clear. Despite the prestige of that Classic, Derby form does not always look strong in hindsight, but it is looking good this year with third-placed Hurricane Lane, like Adayar, trained by Charlie Appleby, having since won a pair of 2400m G1s – the Irish Derby at The Curragh and the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp. And due to the weight-for-age allowance, the three-year-old Adayar will get 8lb from four-year-old Love.
Globetrotting Mishriff has an iron constitution and some unique talents, notably having won at the very top level on heavy ground (Deauville’s G2 Prix Guillaume d’Ornano, 2000m), a fast dirt surface (King Abdulaziz’s Saudi Cup, 1800m), and a fastish turf surface (Meydan’s Dubai Sheema Classic, 2410m). Last year he also won a French Classic – Chantilly’s G1 Prix du Jockey Club (2100m, slow ground) but he only managed third in the G1 Eclipse Stakes (1990m) at Sandown earlier this month, and now needs to come up with a G1 victory at home.
Ted Voute, representing owner Prince Faisal, says of Mishriff, whose trainer John Gosden (now in partnership with his son Thady) has won the King George in three of the last four years, all with the mighty Enable. “I think Mishriff was a bit gassy in the first half of the race at Sandown which happens to a lot of horses after some time off the track.
Hopefully that has put him spot on for this. He has beaten lots of very good horses from around the world, but we now want to win a G1 in England.”
The ground condition at Ascot is currently good to firm, but possible rain at the end of the week could ease surface conditions.