27th July 2017

King George VI Weekend Preview


A vintage King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Group One, a mile-and-a-half) is in prospect on Saturday, when Europe's best three-year-old, the Oaks winner Enable (122), takes on the two highest rated older mile-and-a-half horses, Highland Reel and Jack Hobbs (123).

Highland Reel won last year's King George and the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, whilst Jack Hobbs won last year's Irish Derby and the Sheema Classic in Dubai in March.

This is a generational clash of the highest order, and with a field packed with strength in depth, is being touted in the media as the race of the year so far.

In the field is the Eclipse winner, Ulysses, the Hardwicke winner, Idaho, a second Prince of Wales's Stakes winner (2016) My Dream Boat, a second three-year-old, Hampton Court Stakes winner, Benbatl, and the fascinating champion of South America and a first runner in the U.K. from that continent, dual Group One winner, from Argentina, Sixties Song.

Frankie Dettori has had to diet to get down to 8st 7lb, the weight Enable, the hot favourite, carries with the combined three-year-old and fillies allowances. He last did that two years ago. 

The ground is going to be key to the outcome of the race, although Enable is considered to be at home on all surfaces. 

The principal opposition, however, have marked preferences. Highland Reel and Ulysses prefer quicker ground, with the former particularly compromised previously on a softer surface. Whilst Jack Hobbs, struggled in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes (which was also short of his optimum trip), will relish any further rainfall we may get.

The Gigaset International Stakes is the principal handicap on the card - one of a series of seven furlong high value contests we run over the season, whilst the result of the Group Three Princess Margaret Juddmonte Stakes for two-year-old fillies will shape the market for the 1,000 Guineas next year, even at this early stage.

Lining up there are two unbeaten fillies, Dance Diva and Spring Cosmos, but it is Nyaleti who sets the standard on her two runner-up finishes in the Chesham at Royal Ascot and the Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket's recent July Meeting.

Friday's feature race is the Listed Valiant Stakes, for three-year-old fillies and mares over a mile.

The BHA and ourselves share the aspiration for this to develop into a Group Three race, sooner rather than later. 

For that to happen, the horses in the top four, over three years, need to prove themselves at Group Three level or better, or indeed already be proven at that level.

Some of the four-year-olds in the line up, headed by Nathra, have Group Two and Three form, whilst the likes of three-year-olds Whispering Bell and, especially recent impressive Ascot winner, Mittens, look full of promise and could well end up performing at a much higher level than today. 

On Saturday, we are collaborating with several important international industry bodies. 

The King George is a Breeders' Cup Turf "win and you're in" race carrying travel incentives to the winner, and the Japan Racing Association (JRA) offers a £1 million bonus if the King George winner is successful in the Japan Cup.

Tickets for the King George VI Weekend remain on sale from £28. Find out more. 

@Ascot