A Look Ahead - The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes

A Look Ahead - The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes

The summer features continue to fire at us at a quick pace, with just under two weeks to go until the Group One King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Held at Ascot Racecourse over the mile-and-a-half distance, it is Britain's most prestigious open-age flat race, and forms part of the 'Middle Distance' category in the 'Qipco British Champions Series', for horses who may go onto compete in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.

The event was inaugurated in 1951 after the 'King George Stakes' (two-mile for three-year-olds) and the 'Queen Elizabeth Stakes' (one-mile-and-a-half) merged into one race.

Today, it is Britain's second richest horse race behind the Epsom Derby, and winners of this contest automatically receive an invitation to the Breeders Cup.

The race's roll of honour features some of the most coveted horses in the sport's recent history, who have mostly all gone onto have successful careers at stud.

Some real champions have claimed this prize in the 21st century, including star stallion Galileo in 2001. Doyen, Nathaniel and the German raider Danedream were all memorable winners in the next ten years.

More laterally, Luca Cumani's Postponed and Aidan O'Brien's Highland Reel were two classy four-year-olds who won this race in back-to-back years.

Poet's Word won the Sir Michael Stoute battle last year over stablemate Crystal Ocean, whilst the Oaks winner Enable took first prize honours in the shuddering rain twelve months before that.

It is John Gosden's wonder mare who heads this year's field, looking to become just the third dual-winner of the contest in it's history.

She already has two Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe's to her name, and is on the hunt for a record-breaking third later this year, after she made an emphatic return in the Coral Eclipse ten days ago.

The five-year-old looks to be a tough nut to crack following her comeback at Sandown, but will be facing different horses to the nine she beat in this race twenty-four months ago.

Enable beat Crystal Ocean in the September Stakes last season on her respective return as a four-year-old, and the son of Sea The Stars will be seeking redemption.

Currently ranked as the world's best horse, Crystal Ocean looked better than ever when landing his first Group One of his career here last month when taking the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at the royal meeting.

He beat Magical double the distance Enable managed over the filly in Esher last week, ending a long wait for a victory at the top level, but acting as a real testament to his trainer's methods.

Patience has been the name of the game for the five-year-old, who has also never finished outside the top three in his fifteen-race career.

Crystal Ocean was the favourite for a short while until John Gosden confirmed that Nathaniel's daughter would head here next just three weeks after her first appearance of the season.

Defoe is the other individual in the field who will head to Berkshire off the back of a victory at the royal meeting.

Roger Varian's talented five-year-old gelding landed the Coronation Cup at Epsom on May 31, and backed that up with a win in the Hardwicke Stakes at this track.

These colours landed the race a few years back, and should be very much amongst the finish given his rapid improvement this season.

Next comes the Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, who heads four three-year-old's - all trained by the master Aidan O'Brien.

The son of Galileo won his trial at Lingfield to kickstart the season, before landing Britain's Premier Classic on the Epsom Downs at the beginning of June.

He could not reel in stablemate Sovereign in the Irish equivalent in a strangely run race, but should definitely bounce back here or elsewhere.

Sovereign is also entered here, alongside outsiders Norway, Magic Wand and Hunting Horn. Japan - who won the Grand Prix de Paris in France on Sunday, along with Magical are both expected to miss this.

Despite recent disappointments, Masar still holds an entry for Charlie Appleby, whilst Sir Michael Stoute will seek to do the race back-to-back for the first time since 2010 with Mirage Dancer.

John Gosden also has two other fillies in the shape of Lah Ti Dar and Coronet, who formed the third and first in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud last time out in France.

Talking of the French, Andre Fabre has Waldgeist entered who finished third to Crystal Ocean in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes here last month.

Japanese star Cheval Grand flies the international flag for trainer Yasuo Tomomichi, who could make his first appearance since finishing second in the Sheema Classic in Meydan back in March.

Andrew Balding's Morando and Sylvester Kirk's Salouen complete the current eighteen entries for the race, where Enable will look to join Dahlia and Swain as the only dual winners of the race.

The race is the feature at Ascot on Saturday 27 July.

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