The storylines in Saturday’s Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes are almost as loaded with intrigue as the field is loaded with talent.
And this field for the 1 ½-mile turf trek at Ascot is loaded with talent. But each high-profile contestant comes with his – or her – built-in storyline. And that brings us to the inevitable questions surrounding each storyline.
Can a filly or mare once again win the King George? Yes, we’re talking about you, Love. After all, you’ve got some big hooves to fill here. Hoofprints created by Danedream (2012), Taghrooda (2014) and Enable (2017, 2019, 2020). Five of the last nine winners of this summer event were fillies or mares.
And Love (5/2) has the speed and chops to make it six of 10. The daughter of the late Galileo comes into Ascot with a four-race winning streak. She hasn’t lost since her third in the Group 1 Fillies Mile at Newmarket in October 2019. This winning streak includes last month’s Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot, where she beat the boys by three-quarters of a length.
Love conquers all by 19 lengths in last four races
It also includes last August’s Yorkshire Oaks, where Love won by five lengths. And last July’s Epsom Oaks, which she won by nine. And last June’s 1,000 Guineas, which she won by 4 ¼. In fact, Love conquered all in seven of her 11 races and a victory here would give her a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
If not Love, who conquers Love? That brings us to our next question: can a Derby winner break the schnide and win the King George? Yes, we’re talking about you, Adayar. Last seen upsetting the Epsom Derby field at 16/1, Adayar (4/1) attempts to break a futility streak among Classic winners in this race.
Since 1988, 12 Derby winners ran the King George. Only four found the winner’s circle, the last being Galileo in 2001. The son of Frankel, himself a Galileo offspring, Adayar does get an eight-pound weight edge because he’s a 3-year-old.
“It’s a huge occasion. It’s a challenge, stepping up into the big boys’ division at a mile and a half, but I’ve been delighted with his preparation and he looks like a million dollars,” Adayar’s trainer, Charlie Appleby, told the Racing Post. “It looks as if there will be some pace in the race, which will suit us.”
Here’s Mishriff, seeking redemption in the King George
If not the Derby winner, not his fellow 3-year-old stablemate and Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle (6/1) and not Love, who? Can Mishriff rebound from his last, disappointing outing?
The Saudi Cup winner on dirt and Dubai Sheema Classic winner on turf ran his way to the top-ranked spot in the Longines World Rankings. Then, Mishriff (8/1) went into the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown earlier this month and flattened out. He finished a disappointing third as the 13/8 favorite.
That took the starch out of his form, while increasing his value here accordingly.
“I thought Mishriff was a big gassy at Sandown in the first half of the race, which happens to a lot of horses after some time off,” Ted Voute, the racing manager to Mishriff’s owner, Prince Faisal, told Woodbine’s Bailey Gallison in a release. “And I just wondered whether he needed a race under his belt to get him spot on. He seemed to run very well backing up from Saudi to Dubai.”
Yes, the King George comes with its own brand of equine palace intrigue. But it comes with some of the best horses in Europe, one of which has a spot waiting for them at Del Mar this November.