A mouth-watering clash of the generations and the sexes takes place this weekend as a clutch of flat racing’s biggest stars meet in what promises to be a King George to define an era at Ascot.
Having been seen cruising up Warren Hill on the Newmarket gallops of late it seems the Queen of Racing, John Gosden’s Enable, is ready to do herself justice and win back the crown she took as a three-year-old back in 2017.
Her handler has been at pains to stress that her price of 4/6 is more reflective of the bookmaking industry’s position of protecting themselves against the Frankie Dettori factor, adding that she should be around evens and that’s something we can’t argue with.
What is not in doubt however is that she is the rightful favourite having come back for the year with a stunning victory in the Eclipse at Sandown, dropping back to ten furlongs in the process though this mile-and-a-half is undoubtedly her optimum trip.
The eight-time Group 1-winning mare was injured last season and couldn’t take part as Sir Michael Stoute’s pair Poet’s Word and Crystal Ocean fought out the finish, the former just prevailing before heading off to stud.
Crystal Ocean is back for another crack and is second-in at a general 11/4 and he was brilliant in taking the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last month. It remains to be seen though whether he can up his game enough over this trip and it must be remembered that he was no match for Enable on her return to the track at Kempton in last season’s September Stakes.
The top two in the market are joined by this year’s Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck of the Aidan O’Brien yard, making the race the clash of the generations that the King George ideally should always be.
The Epsom form is working out nicely given that Circus Maximus and Japan have come out to take Group 1’s since then, however those performances themselves are a little under scrutiny and the horse in question has since been beaten in the Irish Derby, making this somewhat of a retrieval mission not just for himself and his yard but for this year’s whole bunch of middle-distance three-year-olds.
Those three are the standout names then but backers cannot afford to forget about Roger Varian’s Defoe, a stout type who has done nothing but improve right up to five years old.
Having taken the Group 1 Coronation Cup at the Derby meeting in June, the grey followed-up with a taking success in the Hardwicke Stakes at the royal meeting after which his trainer admitted he was more or less obliged to go for this race and he’d have a place chance at least.
Group 1 scorer Waldgeist could represent France while further top-level form is on show from the likes of Magic Wand and Salouen, making this year’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes the race of the year and Britain’s version of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for sure.