Weekend ante-post tips – King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes preview
Saturday’s feature race at Ascot is the Group One King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes which gets underway at 3.35pm. We look over the potential big race field and give our weekend ante-post tips for the Saturday feature.
The latest of the season’s Group One races comes to us on Saturday at Ascot with the latest renewal of the famous King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
A top-class 1m 4f contest, the Group One feature race carries a first prize in excess of £225,000 so it is a shade disappointing that the initial field of entries number only eight participants for the most prestigious open-age flat race run in Britain.
Saturday’s big prize will be a shoot-out between John Gosden who saddles both dual-King George winner Enable and the improving Fanny Logan and Aidan O’Brien who could have as many as six runners in opposition headed by Magical and the two trainers account for the full field of runners.
Although much of the attention will focus on next week’s Glorious Goodwood Festival, we’ve taken a look over Saturday’s potential field of runners in the feature race and give our weekend ante-post tips for the Group One showpiece.
2020 KING GEORGE VI AND QUEEN ELIZABETH STAKES – BIG-RACE PREVIEW
Dual-winner of this race, taking top honours in 2017 and twelve months ago when gaining a narrow verdict over Crystal Ocean who made John Gosden’s star fight all the way to the line.
The top-class Nathaniel mare has met with defeat on each of her last two outings since racking up twelve successive wins; possibly finding the ground too soft when attempting to win a third Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe on her final outing of last season and she probably needed the run over the shorter trip of the Coral Eclipse Stakes when beaten into second by Ghaiyyath.
Sure to strip fitter with that outing under her belt and stepping back up in distance on better ground she’s sure to take plenty of beating and she had the measure of Aidan O’Brien’s reopposing Magical on more than one occasion last term. She remains the standard bearer they all have to beat.
The second of John Gosden’s pair, the Sea The Stars filly proved highly progressive last term where she won five of her eight runs including a four-timer which culminated in the Group Three Darley Pride Stakes.
Far from disgraced in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf behind Iridessa, she wasn’t seen to best effect on her reappearance behind Manuela De Vega – a Group Two winner since – although she stepped up for that outing and showed the benefit of the run when readily taking the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Likely capable of even better, she takes a seat at the top table; but she has a bit to do with a few of these on the best of her form where she’s rated 13lbs below her stablemate. A solid performance wouldn’t surprise, but questionable whether she’s quite good enough to lower the colours of her stablemate.
Spearheading Aidan O’Brien’s challenge the high-class Galileo mare wasn’t beaten far behind Enable in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe when crossing the line in fifth place and she wasted no time in getting back to winning ways when taking top honours in the Qipco Champion Stakes here in October.
Also a winner on her reappearance at the Curragh last month, beating Cayenne Pepper to take the Pretty Polly Stakes she looks sure to run another big race back at Ascot where her record at this venue reads 121. However, she’s been beaten by Enable anytime they’ve faced off in the past, including in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf and 2019 Coral Eclipse Stakes and may have to settle for second best again.
This longer trip is within her scope and she’s won over the distance in the past; but there’s a strong suspicion she’s at her best over ten furlongs and an on-song Enable is likely to prove too strong for her again.
The Galileo colt went from strength to strength last term, posting a fast-finishing third to stablemate Anthony Van Dyck in the Epsom Derby before winning in grand style over this course and distance in the King Edward VII Stakes.
The four-year old hit Group One paydirt with wins in the Grand Prix de Paris and Juddmonte International prior to finishing a very good fourth in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe and little over two lengths’ adrift of Enable. He’s been beaten on both starts this term however, finishing fourth in the Prince Of Wale’s Stakes at Royal Ascot and then going one place better but finishing behind Ghaiyyath and Enable in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes.
He might be happier back over this longer trip, but he wasn’t able to beat a ring-rusty Enable at Sandown when he had the advantage of race-fitness and hard to see him turning the tables with Gosden’s star to whom he again has to give 3lbs.
Another by Galileo and the third of the possible Ballydoyle team, he had posted good efforts in defeat prior to bombing out at Epsom in the Derby although he never looked happy on the undulations; however he beat the Derby winner by six lengths at the Curragh next time in the Irish equivalent under an enterprising front-running ride.
Although there’s a slight suspicion the run maybe just flattered him somewhat, he never appeared like being caught and he probably needed his reappearance at the Curragh last month when finishing third to Twilight Payment in the Group Three Vintage Crop Stakes.
The longer trip there appeared not to inconvenience and he ran on well under some tender handling so may well have more to offer now he’s had a run. He’ll be dangerous if allowed to build up a soft lead and while this assignment will demand a bit more from him he’s respected nonetheless.
ANTHONY VAN DYCK
Dual-winner last term including posting a strong finish to claim the Epsom Derby; but that was his last win and he was disappointing on his latest run behind Fanny Logan at Ascot in the Hardwicke Stakes.
Despite his failure to add to his tally, he had made the frame in a number of Group One outings last term but has finished behind both Enable and Magical in those starts and he found Ghaiyyath too good on his reappearance at Newmarket in the rescheduled Coronation Cup prior to his Ascot run.
He did meet with some trouble in running and the softer ground possibly wasn’t entirely favourable; but he likely needs a fair bit more than he’s produced in recent runs to land this big prize and return to the winners’ enclosure.
Landed an impressive success in the 2019 Chester Vase which prompted his favourite status in the Epsom Derby where he finished fifth but beaten less than one length.
The Camelot colt had come through with what looked a winning run, but he was able to pass the runner-up while race-winner Anthony Van Dyck crept up the far rail for the win and the O’Brien runner faded in the last strides to finish out of the frame.
He’s largely run well since but has found winning again to be difficult and he’s been turned over this year in Listed and Group Three company although all three of those starts have been at ten furlongs so a return to further might prove more suitable.
On ratings he has a fair bit to find not only with Enable but his stablemates, and while he’s clearly a smart operator he’s the lowest rated in the field. Winning record tempers enthusiasm and he’ll need a significant career best to land this prize.
Completing the potential field and the last of Aidan O’Brien’s sextet of possible runners the Galileo mare props up the ante-post market and while a very smart performer might just find this too hot having been beaten behind Ghaiyyath and Enable in the recent Coral Eclipse Stakes.
She was kept busy last term, taking to the track eleven times in 2019 which yielded a win at Flemington in the Group One Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes; she continued to run well on her travels to Hong Kong, the United States and Saudi Arabia, finishing twice in the runner-up berth in the Hong Kong Cup and Pegasus World Cup Turf.
Having won on her return at the Curragh in June, she was beaten four lengths at Sandown when last seen and she has more on her plate although the return to further will help.
However, she failed to beat a rival in this race twelve months ago although that was arguably a stronger renewal than this; nevertheless, she has work to do if she’s to get the better of Enable and she could struggle.
WEEKEND ANTE-POST TIPS – KING GEORGE VI & QUEEN ELIZABETH STAKES VERDICT
Although she’s met with defeat the last twice it is hard to look beyond ENABLE to win a third King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes crown in four years and John Gosden’s charge ought to take plenty of beating.
The Nathaniel mare lost nothing in defeat behind Waldgeist in last season’s Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe and she did nothing wrong behind a race-fit rival in the recent Coral-Eclipse Stakes over shorter and trainer John Gosden said prior to the race his star mare would need the run.
She already has winning form over most of her rivals including Magical and Anthony Van Dyck, and Sovereign will likely ensure a decent pace which will help. Her win in the race twelve months ago proved her toughness where she battling to a gutsy success over Crystal Ocean and there’s an argument this field of rivals perhaps isn’t as strong.
The one to beat again, she’s sure to come on for her reappearance at Sandown and back up in trip will take some passing. She can win again enroute to another crack at the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe later in the year.