The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes is a Group 1 race over 12f at Ascot on July 28th. Let’s look at the main contenders and revel a strong fancy to win the race.
Most books have the Sir Michael Stoute trained 4 year old Crystal Ocean as the favourite. The son of Sea The Stars was a consistent and progressive 3 year old who ended his season in September by just being touched off in the Group 1 St Leger over an extended 1 mile and 6 furlongs at Doncaster. Stoute has since said he always felt the trip was too far that day and the horse ran against his wishes to please the owner.
Back down to 10 furlongs for his next outing last April, he duly obliged when winning the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown. He followed that up with a facile win when stepped up to 12 furlongs for another Group 3, this time at Newbury, before again running out a ready winner in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes over course and distance at the Royal meeting.
With Ryan Moore retained for the ride on Hydrangea, William Buick takes the reins and this rapidly improving horse, typical of the type the yard does so well with, will have been aimed specifically at The King George and must surely go close here.
After two disappointing runs at Epsom and Royal Ascot, the gloss is somewhat gone off the once imperious looking Cracksman. However, despite needing significant rain to even run, the first ever Group 1 winning son of wonder horse Frankel has really added spice to this contest with his surprise declaration.
We all know how good he looked at the end of his 3 year old career as he trounced a high class field by an ever widening 7 lengths in the Champion Stakes over Ascot’s 10 furlongs. He then followed up last April with another easy win in the Group 1 Prix Ganay at Longchamp.
However, he needed all of Frankie Dettori’s urging’s to get him home in the Coronation Cup at Epsom on Derby day and again seemed ill at ease when beaten fair and square by King George rival Poets Word in The Prince of Wales’s at the Royal meeting in June.
Gosden later spoke of the colts “mind not being on the job” as he was too busy looking around the Ascot parade ring. The fast ground that day has also been given as an excuse, hence his participation here hinging on significant rain.
If he shows up and can keep his mind right, then he will be hard to beat, especially as owner Andrew Oppenheim was this morning quoted as saying the 4 year old was “going like a bomb at home.”
With or without Cracksman, Gosden will be represented by the filly Coronet. A course and distance winner of the Ribblesdale at last years Royal meeting, the daughter of Dubawi was most recently touched off in a Group 1 in France. While she can’t be ruled out here, her current odds of around 10/1 probably accurately reflect her chances of winning a race such as the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Anything Aidan O’ Brien runs must be seriously considered and in the absence of Kew Gardens he now runs Hydrangea and Rostropovich.
The first mentioned is the mount of Ryan Moore and she showed her liking for course and distance when a good winner of the Champion Filly and Mares last October. She has not fired however in two runs this season and will need a return to top form to feature in this.
Coming from the best yard in the World though, she can’t be totally ruled out.
My pick for this years King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes is the other Sir Michael Stoute trained horse, Poet’s Word.
As a slow maturing 5 year old who had still never ran beyond handicap company during the first 8 races of his life, Poet’s Word, like Crystal Ocean, is typical of the type his trainer excels with.
He ended last season a much improved horse with two solid 2nd place finishes in both the Irish and English Champion Stakes, both Group 1 contests over 10 furlongs. He then produced two more solid runs in Hong Kong and Dubai over the winter before beginning his European season with an easy win in the Brigadier Gerard. This was then followed by easily his best performance ever when he comprehensively downed Cracksman in the Prince of Wales Stakes at the Royal meeting.
I don’t expect the extra 2 furlongs of the King George Stakes to pose any problems and with the brilliant James Doyle in the saddle, I expect this horse to take all the beating if Cracksman doesn’t turn up. I really like the head carriage of Poet’s Word and the way he knuckles down and goes about his business and I expect this teak tough son of Poet’s Voice to get the job done on his favoured fast ground.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes selection:
If no rain and Cracksman doesn’t run: POET’S WORD.