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Oaks winner vs Derby winner as six declared for King George

Thu 22 Jul 2021

Hot favourite Love is set to face five rivals in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Last season’s 1000 Guineas and Oaks heroine made a successful return from 10 months off the track in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last month and is a warm order to provide trainer Aidan O’Brien with a fifth victory in this weekend’s midsummer showpiece.

The Ballydoyle handler will also saddle the ultra-consistent Broome, who has won four of his six starts this season and was last seen breaking his duck at the top level in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud three weeks ago.

The opposition is headed by Charlie Appleby’s Derby hero Adayar.

The Frankel colt was a surprise winner of last month’s premier Classic, but the form has been significantly boosted by his stablemate Hurricane Lane, who has won both the Irish Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris since finishing third Epsom.

The other three-year-old in Saturday’s field is Martyn Meade’s Lone Eagle, who was beaten a neck into second by Hurricane Lane in the Irish Derby four weeks ago.

David Menuisier has declared stable star Wonderful Tonight. The Newmarket-based Frenchman has expressed doubts about running his pride and joy on fast ground and will be hoping one of the forecast thunderstorms arrives in Berkshire.

The small but select field is completed by John and Thady Gosden’s Saudi Cup and Dubai Sheema Classic victor Mishriff.

The son of Make Believe can be expected to improve from his first start since his globetrotting exploits earlier this year when third in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown three weeks ago.

However, Mishriff will need to concede 11lb to his three-year-old rivals, leading Adayar's jockey William Buick to be hopeful as his mount bids to become the first colt since Galileo in 2001 to go on to win the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes.

Buick, 33 on Thursday, did not ride Adayar at Epsom, but he had a better view of him than most from the back of stable-companion Hurricane Lane, who was left trailing in third that day but has gone on win both the Irish Derby and the Grand Prix De Paris.

He believes the son of Frankel has plenty going for him as he takes on top-class older rivals Love and Mishriff, who were both Classic winners last year, and he is really looking forward to what he acknowledges will be “a tough test”.

He said: “Saturday’s field has everything the King George deserves. It’s a stellar field. It’s got a lot of the best middle-distances around at the moment, it’s got three-year-olds against older horses, and it’s got fillies against colts. It also has the Derby winner, which isn’t that common these days. It’s going to be a great race.”

He added: “I think the team nominated the King George almost straight after the Derby and it looks the obvious race for Adayar. The allowance that the three-year-olds get at this time of the year is very attractive, and it’s definitely a factor.”

Looking back on the Derby, he said: “Adayar had run well in two trials and so I did consider him. On a different day he might have won at Sandown, while at Lingfield it was really bad ground. I think he’d really come on from Lingfield, and although I didn’t ride him at Epsom I thought he was a very good winner on the day.

“Myself and Adam (Kirby, Adayar’s rider at Epsom) were more or less upsides a lot of the way and we both kind of went for it at the same time, although on different parts of the track. I thought I had a chance, but then the next thing I knew he was four, five, six lengths ahead of me. Adayar put daylight between us very quickly and you would have to say he’s a very good Derby winner. He’s an uncomplicated horse too, and that helps.”

Adayar would be a first King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes winner for his trainer Charlie Appleby, who has never had a runner before, and a first for Godolphin since Doyen in 2004, but Buick won the race ten years ago on Nathaniel when just turned 23, beating the previous year’s Derby winner Workforce.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s race, in which Adayar will be his first runner, Appleby said: “It’s a huge occasion. It’s a challenge, stepping up into the big boys’ division at a mile and a half, but I’ve been delighted with his preparation and he looks a million dollars. It looks as if there will be some pace in the race, which will suit us.

“Love is going to go off favourite, and deservedly so on what she’s achieved, but Adayar receives the weight allowance and I genuinely think he should be bang there. It’s going to be a fantastic race to watch hopefully, and whoever wins it is going to be king of the mile and a half division for the foreseeable future.”

Lone Eagle receives the same allowance and bids to erase the pain of his defeat at The Curragh, where he was collared close home and beaten a neck after looking sure to win when Frankie Dettori kicked him into a clear lead approaching the two-furlong marker.

Success in this middle-distance showpiece would represent a major landmark for trainer Martyn Meade, and it would be an outright record eighth win in the race for Dettori, who currently shares the record with Lester Piggott.

Meade would welcome a bit of rain to slow the others but he believes the track will suit Lone Eagle, who has come out of his race at The Curragh well. He said: “It’s all systems go and we hope he can go one place better, but if we learned anything at The Curragh it was to put up with disappointment. It was just the worst thing, getting done on the line. He was so far clear two out, and we were just about reaching for the champagne at the furlong marker, so it was hard to bear.”

Also hoping for rain is David Menuisier, trainer of Wonderful Tonight, who will only allow his runner to line-up if he deems conditions suitable.

Menuisier explained: “There are thunderstorms forecast and a good chance of heavy showers. That doesn’t mean Ascot will get them, but as long as it remains a possibility we owe it to the filly to keep her in the race and take her to Ascot on Saturday, where we will sit and wait.

“If it doesn’t rain we’ll come home and enjoy the drive back, but she’s been grand since Royal Ascot and she’s definitely ready for another run. If it’s not this weekend, then hopefully Goodwood if the ground is right, with the Lillie Langtry more likely than the Nassau as we might get away with good ground against slightly lesser fillies.”

The going at Ascot on Thursday morning was ‘Good to firm, good in places’, with clerk of the course Chris Stickels estimating that 8mm-10mm of rain might fall before the race.

Unlike some of the other trainers, Aidan O'Brien reckons better ground would help the prospects of Love.

“Everything has gone well with Love since Royal Ascot, where we were delighted to be able to give her the run in the Prince Of Wales’s," he said. "This is up another two furlongs and we are looking forward to it. She’s very genuine and she puts it all in.

“She would be the main one, but if was going to be soft Broome handles it whereas Love wouldn’t be mad about it.”

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