International field of 12 on tap for King George
The winners of such Group 1 races as the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Melbourne
Cup, Japan Derby, Coronation Cup and Eclipse are among 12 acceptors for a truly
international King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
|St Nicholas Abbey (left) and Sea Moon, the top two from last fall's BC Turf, will clash at Ascot
(©Breeders' Cup Ltd.)
The betting market for the Group 1, £1 million contest is headed by St
Nicholas Abbey, a wide-margin winner of the Coronation Cup at Epsom, and runaway
Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes hero Sea Moon.
Aidan O'Brien, trainer of St Nicholas Abbey, has also engaged Windsor Palace
and Robin Hood while John Gosden could be double-handed with Eclipse winner
Nathaniel and last year's Group 1 St Leger hero Masked Marvel.
Last year's Arc heroine Danedream could have her first start in Britain in
the 1 1/2-mile race. Following her victory in Paris, Peter Schiergen's star
finished sixth in the Grade 1 Japan Cup and returned this season with an easy
win at Baden-Baden.
She then returned to France for the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud but
could only manage fourth to Meandre. Schiergen believes there were excuses that
day and expects a bold display this weekend.
"Nothing went right for her at Saint-Cloud," her trainer commented. "They
went very slow early on and that didn't suit. She prefers a strong gallop and
that is usually what you get in England. Everything has gone well since her last
"Soft ground would not bother her at all. She handles it very well indeed, so
if it was very soft that would not change anything."
Michael Owen's Brown Panther and Japanese star Deep Brillante are other
interesting entries along with Melbourne Cup hero Dunaden and the Alain de
Royer-Dupre pair of Reliable Man and Shareta.
|Danedream will try to recover her smashing Arc form
In other major action this weekend, the Group 1, €400,000 Irish Oaks will be
contested over 1 1/2 miles at the Curragh on Sunday.
Dermot Weld, who is bidding for third win in the classic, saddles Princess
Highway. The Moyglare Stud-owned filly booked her place with a six-length romp
in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, beating Group 1 Epsom Oaks
third The Fugue.
Weld said: "She's in good form and she's all set. We'd like the weather to
pick up because she's a filly with a lot pace, but she handled that ground on
the day at Ascot and she's very adaptable.
"It would be lovely and be our third time if we could win it. Classics are
hard to win and they don't come easy, so we are well aware of that."
At the Curragh on Saturday we could see the long-awaited return of another
Australian champion, Starspangledbanner, in the Group 3 Minstrel Stakes, run
over seven furlongs.
In 2010, Starspangledbanner won the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal
Ascot and the Group 1 July Cup before finishing second in the Group 1 Nunthorpe.
The son of Choisir was then retired to stud but reported fertility problems have
seen him return to Ballydoyle and join O'Brien once more, this time as a
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