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Buick delighted with Adayar ride in the King George

22 Jul 2021

A hugely competitive field line-up for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes

Adayar and Adam Kirby stole the show in the Cazoo Derby

William Buick believes that the weight allowance which Cazoo Derby winner Adayar receives from his elders will give him a definite advantage when he bids to become the first colt since Galileo in 2001 to go on to win the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes at Ascot – a race which he says this year “has everything”.

The historic Ascot Group 1 used to be the natural next step for a Derby winner, with Nijinsky (1970), Mill Reef (1971), Shergar (1981), Nashwan (1989) and Lammtarra (1995) among the greats of the sport who completed the double. The allowance which they enjoyed has been reduced a little, but at 11lb it remains substantial, yet only three colts have tried the double since Galileo, with Kris Kin, third in 2003, faring best of them. 

Adayar’s participation in the latest leg of this year’s QIPCO British Champions Series, alongside that of recent Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle in a highly select field of six, promises to be a proper old-fashioned clash of not only the generations, but also of the sexes, and is therefore particularly welcome.

Buick, 33 today, did not ride Adayar at Epsom, but he had a better view of him than most from the back of stable-companion Hurricane Lane, who was left trailing in third that day but has gone on win both the Irish Derby and the Grand Prix De Paris. 

He believes the son of Frankel has plenty going for him as he takes on top-class older rivals Love and Mishriff, who were both Classic winners last year, and he is really looking forward to what he acknowledges will be “a tough test”.

Buick, who is currently in the thick of a terrific battle with Oisin Murphy and Tom Marquand for the Flat Jockeys’ Championship, said: “Saturday’s field has everything the King George deserves. It’s a stellar field. It’s got a lot of the best middle-distances around at the moment, it’s got three-year-olds against older horses, and it’s got fillies against colts. It also has the Derby winner, which isn’t that common these days. It’s going to be a great race.”

He added: “I think the team nominated the King George almost straight after the Derby and it looks the obvious race for Adayar. The allowance that the three-year-olds get at this time of the year is very attractive, and it’s definitely a factor.”

Looking back on the Derby, a race he won on Masar and 2018 and one which he might have won for a second time had he chosen differently, he said: “Adayar had run well in two trials and so I did consider him. On a different day he might have won at Sandown, while at Lingfield it was really bad ground. I think he’d really come on from Lingfield, and although I didn’t ride him at Epsom I thought he was a very good winner on the day.

“Myself and Adam (Kirby, Adayar’s rider at Epsom) were more or less upsides a lot of the way and we both kind of went for it at the same time, although on different parts of the track. I thought I had a chance, but then the next thing I knew he was four, five, six lengths ahead of me. Adayar put daylight between us very quickly and you would have to say he’s a very good Derby winner. He’s an uncomplicated horse too, and that helps.”

Adayar would be a first King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes winner for his trainer Charlie Appleby, who has never had a runner before, and a first for Godolphin since Doyen in 2004, but Buick won the race ten years ago on Nathaniel when just turned 23, beating the previous year’s Derby winner Workforce.

He recalled: “Nathaniel was a very good horse and John (Gosden) trained him brilliantly as you had to keep a lid on him. He missed Epsom as he wasn’t ready for that sort of test, but it was the making of him because won both the King Edward VII and then the King George. He was extremely well-managed and every decision was right.”

Buick has been second in three King Georges since and is hoping for a change of luck. He said: “Nathaniel was nearly favourite the following year after winning the Coral-Eclipse, whereas Danedream had arrived somewhat under the radar, but she’d won the Arc the year before, breaking the track record, before going off the boil. We were beaten a nose, which was tough to take at the time, but looking back now you can say it was a great race.

“I got the worst of it in another terrific finish when I was just beaten by Poet’s Word on Crystal Ocean three years ago, but he ran great too. It’s nearly always a great race, and this year it looks to have all of the right ingredients.”

Appleby saw the “gentle giant” Adayar as more of a St Leger type prior to the Derby and admits it was Sheikh Mohammed who insisted that he should run if fit and well. He said: “He got a copybook ride, but what surprised us there is that acceleration, which we’d never seen before.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s race, in which Adayar will be his first runner, he said: “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 a million dollars. It looks as if there will be some pace in the race, which will suit us. 

“Love is going to go off favourite, and deservedly so on what she’s achieved, but Adayar receives the weight allowance and I genuinely think he should be bang there. It’s going to be a fantastic race to watch hopefully, and whoever wins it is going to be king of the mile and a half division for the foreseeable future.”

Lone Eagle receives the same allowance and bids to erase the pain of his defeat at The Curragh, where he was collared close home and beaten a neck after looking sure to win when Frankie Dettori kicked him into a clear lead approaching the two-furlong marker. 

Success in this middle-distance showpiece would represent a major landmark for trainer Martyn Meade, and it would be an outright record eighth win in the race for Dettori, who currently shares the record with Lester Piggott.  

Meade would welcome a bit of rain to slow the others but he believes the track will suit Lone Eagle, who has come out of his race at The Curragh well. He said: “It’s all systems go and we hope he can go one place better, but if we learned anything at The Curragh it was to put up with disappointment. It was just the worst thing, getting done on the line. He was so far clear two out, and we were just about reaching for the champagne at the furlong marker, so it was hard to bear.”

Ante-post favourite Love is bidding to continue the great recent run of fillies started by Danedream in the 2012 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes. Danedream was the first filly to win since Time Charter 29 years previously, but she has been followed by Taghrooda (2014) and Enable (2017, 2019, 2020). Love too has impeccable credentials for the task.

One might have thought that she had little more to prove when she reappeared in Royal Ascot’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, having been overwhelmingly superior when winning last year’s QIPCO 1,000 Guineas, Investec Oaks and Darley Yorkshire Oaks by an aggregate of more than 18 lengths, but it was the first race in which she raced against males.

Although it was a filly who chased her home again, she underlined her versatility by making her own running for a change before showing she is a more than willing battler in seeing off the persistent challenge of Breeders’ Cup winner Audarya by three-quarters of a length.

Having been already set to miss last year’s Qatar Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe on account of the ground, even before the feed contamination issue that beset her team, this is a crucial opportunity for her to cement her status among the very best fillies that Aidan O’Brien has trained.

O’Brien, who has also declared recent Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner Broome in his bid for a fifth win in the race, said: “Everything has gone well with Love since Royal Ascot, where we were delighted to be able to give her the run in the Prince Of Wales’s. This is up another two furlongs and we are looking forward to it. She’s very genuine and she puts it all in. 

“She would be the main one, but if was going to be soft Broome handles it whereas Love wouldn’t be mad about it.” 

Globe-trotter Mishriff had been off the track since winning the Saudi Cup in Riyadh and the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan when he was only third of four behind St Mark’s Basilica in the Coral-Eclipse at the beginning of the month, and Ted Voute, racing manager to owner Prince Faisal, felt he was “a bit gassy” there following his break, so possibly just needed the run to put him spot on.

He has reportedly pleased joint trainers John and Thady Gosden since and a Group 1 win in England remains a priority.

Voute confirmed: “We want to win a Group 1 in England with Mishriff and you can’t win one unless you run in them. He has beaten some very good horses from around the world and now is the time to see what he can do against the big battalions from England and Ireland in particular.”

Wonderful Tonight, who beat Broome in the Hardwicke, has been left in at the 48-hour declaration stage, with David Menuisier praying for rain.

Menuisier explained: “There are thunderstorms forecast and a good chance of heavy showers. That doesn’t mean Ascot will get them, but as long as it remains a possibility we owe it to the filly to keep her in the race and take her to Ascot on Saturday, where we will sit and wait.

“If it doesn’t rain we’ll come home and enjoy the drive back, but she’s been grand since Royal Ascot and she’s definitely ready for another run. If it’s not this weekend, then hopefully Goodwood if the ground is right, with the Lillie Langtry more likely than the Nassau as we might get away with good ground against slightly lesser fillies.” The going at Ascot on Thursday morning was ‘good to firm, good in places’, with clerk of the course Chris Stickels suggesting that between 8mm and 10mm of rain might fall before the race.