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The King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes

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Highland Reel and Ryan Moore winning The King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes from Wings Of Desire 
Ascot 23.7.16
Pic Dan Abraham-racingfotos.com

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History

Every horse race has the power to provoke delight on the one hand and despair on the other. Ascot’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, which is sponsored by QIPCO, one of Britain’s most prestigious open-age Flat race, certainly did that in 2010.

The delight came with Harbinger’s extraordinary 11 length victory, a performance of such brilliance that the colt was immediately rated as the best Flat racehorse in the world. Despair followed soon after, when Harbinger fractured a leg while out training and was forced to retire without racing again.

Harbinger’s awe-inspiring victory over the 1 mile 4 furlong course (2,400 metres) was effectively a non-event, in stark contrast to the 1975 running. Grundy’s epic win over Bustino was dubbed “the race of the century” and set a new record time for the race which stood for 35 years…until Harbinger came along.

In 2012 the first ever German-trained winner emerged in the shape of Danedream, while Novellist made it two German-trained winners in a row in 2013. Then the first three-year-old filly won it, Taghrooda, since 1976 and she did in style.

The ‘King George’ was first run in 1951, following the amalgamation of two other middle-distance races. In the early 70s, the word ‘Diamond’ was added to the title after the start of De Beers’ sponsorship. Today’s backers are QIPCO, with the prize fund reaching £1 million in 2009.

Current leading jockey: Frankie Dettori, 4 wins (1995, 1998-9, 2004)
Current leading trainers: Saeed bin Suroor, 5 wins (1995, 1997-8-9, 2004); Sir Michael Stoute, 5 wins (1981, 1993, 2002, 2009-10)

Previous winners

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Masterful Ryan Moore hits rivals for six

Ryan Moore was at his brilliant best as he made all on Highland Reel  in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot today.

In the process Moore was achieving his sixth win in this year’s QIPCO British Champions Series. No jockey has managed more since the Series was launched in 2011 – the only other jockey to manage so many wins in a year being Tom Queally.

The exploits of Frankel helped Queally achieve his half-dozen, in 2012, so perhaps it was fitting the great horse should have his first Group winner as a sire on the same Ascot card.

Highland Reel was providing trainer Aidan O’Brien with a fourth victory in the King George.

The master of Ballydoyle had previously won the midsummer showpiece with Galileo (2001), Dylan Thomas (2007) and Duke Of Marmalade (2008) and his latest hope was a well-backed 13-8 favourite to follow suit in the Berkshire sunshine.

The four-year-old had proven himself at the highest level abroad in 2015, running well in the Cox Plate in Australia before winning the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington and the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin.

He was narrowly beaten by the reopposing Dartmouth in the Hardwicke Stakes at last month’s Royal meeting, but gained his revenge in some style as Moore executed his tactics to perfection.

The three-times champion jockey was in no mood to hang around, sending his mount into a clear lead racing down the back straight before giving him a breather, which allowed the chasing pack to bridge the gap.

Highland Reel remained in front turning for home, however, and answered Moore’s every call to score by a length and a quarter from Wings Of Desire.

O’Brien did not commit to future targets, but his charge is highly likely to be on his travels once more before the year is out.

“He had a lovely run here in the Hardwicke and we were delighted with him at home,” said the trainer. The horse has been progressing all the time and we couldn’t be happier. Ryan gave him a beautiful ride.

“This is an incredible horse. As everyone knows, he travels the world and he’s getting better, which is amazing. Physically, the development is plain and, mentally, he’s a rock.

“He can go back to Australia, he can do Japan, Hong Kong and there’s the Breeders’ Cup Turf. He’s an amazing horse and has so many options.”

Dante winner and Derby fourth Wings Of Desire was the only three-year-old in the field and ran an excellent race to fill the runner-up spot.

Hugo Lascelles, racing manager to owner-breeder Lady Bamford, said: “We might look at the Juddmonte International (York) or the Prix Niel (Chantilly) and we can think of the Breeders’ Cup at the end of the year as well.

“He will remain in training next year.”

Having already provided the Queen with a Royal Ascot winner in the year of her 90th birthday, Dartmouth was bidding to become the first horse since Aureole in 1954 to carry the royal colours to King George glory.

Olivier Peslier rode a patient race and while his mount came home strongly to pick up minor honours in third, it was all too late.

The Queen’s racing manager John Warren said: “I’ve a notion that he might be an international traveller.

“He loves that fast ground so there is the Breeders’ Cup, Australia and Japan.

“We will talk it through and as long as The Queen is happy to travel with him, we will see where we go.

Results

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The Course

British horseracing can lay claim to plenty of blue-blooded connections, but none rival those of Ascot. The Berkshire racecourse’s roots go back 300 years to Queen Anne, who recognised the potential of a stretch of heath land while out riding just a few miles from Windsor Castle.

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The royal link has endured ever since. Today, Queen Elizabeth II and members of the Royal Family attend the world-famous ‘Royal Ascot’ meeting each year, arriving in a horse drawn carriage. Royal Ascot, meanwhile, has earned iconic status as a centrepiece of the social calendar, when the world’s best thoroughbreds face fierce competition from the world’s most extravagant fashion designs.

Ascot, which underwent a £200 million redevelopment between 2004-6, also hosts the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes sponsored by QIPCO in July, the most prestigious open-age Flat race staged in Britain.

It will also host the inaugural QIPCO British Champions Day in October which will be the richest raceday ever staged in Britain with over £4.2m in prize money and the climax to the QIPCO British Champions Series.  Including the five category finales on QIPCO British Champions Day, Ascot stages no less than 13 of the 35 QIPCO British Champions Series races.

What sort of horses like Ascot? Horses that like right-handed courses. And what sort of people? People who like champagne and scones, apparently. During the five-day Royal Ascot meeting in 2010, 60,000 bottles of champagne and 40,000 scones were consumed. Lobsters, meanwhile, don’t like Royal Ascot – 1,500 of them were eaten over that same period.

Getting there

Ascot
Berkshire
SL5 7JX

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@ChampionsSeries

2 hrs
Teddy Grimthorpe on super sire FRANKEL, "He had more 2YO Group winners than any other sire last year. That puts him in a pretty good place!"
2 hrs
Grimthorpe on MIDTERM: "We were a bit disappointed with him on Saturday. If we can get him right then I don't doubt he'll improve greatly."