This Saturday at Ascot features the big middle distance Group 1 race of the summer in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and a first chance to pitch this year’s Classic winners against the older brigade.
Adayar bids to be the first Derby winner to succeed since the recently departed Galileo twenty years ago, although two mares, Enable and Taghrooda, did win the Oaks and this contest in the interim.
We have seen some classic renewals of late with Enable’s victory in 2019 one for the ages, while Poet’s Word and Crystal Ocean’s battle in 2018 still lives on in the memory.
The weather will have a part to play this week as plenty of the nine that remain entered will want lots of rain to fall, and with thundery showers forecast from late Friday night into early Saturday morning. Some trainers will be doing a rain dance, others will want it to stay away and either way, I expect a field of only about five or six to head to post at 3.35pm on Saturday.
Let us run the rule over the nine contenders.
ADDEYBB (25/1) – Reigning Champion Stakes holder and excellent course record of 101221. In fact, his only blip came on the straight mile and ran as well as expected in the Eclipse when he had an impossible task to give 10lb to St Mark’s Basilica. Top class horse but has questions to answer regards the trip (never been beyond ten and half furlongs) and the ground as poor on only start with firm in going description.
BROOME (20/1) – Finally landed his Group 1 with an all the way success at Saint Cloud at the beginning of the month. Work to do with Wonderful Tonight on Hardwicke Stakes form and a supporting role is surely his best hope if, and it is a big if, he turns up for powerful yard.
JAPAN (33/1) – Same ownership as Broome and returned to winning ways this season at Chester and Leopardstown. Put in his place at Epsom and Royal Ascot though and very disappointing in last year's renewal. Another doubtful runner and slightly better claims to be had with his brother, Mogul.
MISHRIFF (6/1) – Earned an incredible £10m in his career, largely due to the massive riches in winning the Saudi Cup and Dubai Sheema Classic this year. Also won the French Derby last year and probably still does not get the recognition he deserves.
Sheema Classic form looks strong with the two Japanese runners winning in top company since and was far too fresh when weakening close home in the Eclipse, just behind Adeybb.
Connections say they will run but surely needs to see plenty of rain as despite a win on good to firm, looks at home with cut. Trainer John Gosden could equal Sir Michael Stoute’s record of six wins in the race with a victory.
MOGUL (16/1) – Japan’s younger and slightly more illustrious brother, but still enigmatic and inconsistent. Beat a good field in last year's Grand Prix De Paris which included Arc runner-up In Swoop.
That was over this mile and a half trip on decent ground but he fluffed his lines in the Breeders’ Cup and at Meydan behind Mishriff. Landed a good pot at Sha Tin in December in good fashion but then well beaten at Epsom. Can outrun his big price if he turns up, but is just as likely to fall out the back of the TV.
LOVE (5/4) – Absolute superstar who was a dual classic heroine last season, but was not seen again after her Yorkshire Oaks romp as the ground deteriorated here and abroad in the autumn. Did it the hard way on her return in the Prince Of Wales’ Stakes, from the front to hold off a Breeder’s Cup winner and in-form stablemate back in third.
Will be better for the extra trip and if the rain stays away will have her ideal conditions. Likely hard to beat for a red-hot team and bids to give Aidan O’Brien a fifth win in the race.
WONDERFUL TONIGHT (10/1) – A fantastic mare who has won her last three, a pair of Group 1s and a red-hot renewal of the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. Was very impressive in winning here last month and the form looks very good with Broome, Hukum and Sir Ron Priestley all group winners since.
Oisin Murphy has been booked for the ride but needs plenty of rain to take her chance. Well held on her two runs on good and all victories on soft or heavy. Doubtful she will be risked unless downpours ensue, but a big player for me in the Arc De Triomphe granted typical ground conditions in Paris.
ADAYAR (2/1) – Bidding to be first Derby winner to follow up here in two decades. Was beaten in two trials before the Epsom romp but form of those is working out and never a moment's worry once the gap opened and bounded clear for four and a half-length success in the Classic.
Another who, as a heavy topped horse who looks sure to get further, would appreciate some rainfall, and plenty of it.
LONE EAGLE (6/1) – Just reeled in close home in Irish Derby by Hurricane Lane who won Group 1 Grand Prix De Paris in emphatic fashion last week, franking the form. Bids to give Frankie Dettori a record eighth win in the race and a fourth in the last five renewals.
LOVE looks a cast iron favourite and with a mostly dry weather forecast, can claim a fifth victory at Group 1 level and give her trainer a fifth win in this valuable contest.
I expect the race to cut up into a five or six runner field and anyone offering three places on each way bets ante-post is the place to go to back Lone Eagle who improved greatly to run second in the Irish Derby and with more to come, he will be hard to keep out of the frame.
If the showers do arrive in their droves, the whole complexion of the race will change so remain on weather watch.