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 since 1976 in the shape of the John Gosden-trained Taghrooda. In 2017, Enable, another filly trained by Gosden, was a superb winner.
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, 5 wins (1995, 1998-9, 2004, 2017)
Current leading trainers: Saeed bin Suroor, 5 wins (1995, 1997-8-9, 2004); Sir Michael Stoute, 5 wins (1981, 1993, 2002, 2009-10)