Ascot, Saturday 28th July, 3:40 – 1m 4f (1m 3f 211y) King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Sponsored By Qipco) (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Class 1) (3yo+)

The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (known as The King George) is an amalgamation of two separate races at Ascot, The King George VI which was established in 1946 and the Queen Elizabeth which was first run in 1948. The two races were combined in an effort to establish a race of international importance to be run over 1 mile 4 furlongs. The inaugural running of the King George took place in 1951 and as the first running coincided with The Festival of Britain it was named King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Festival of Britain Stakes for that year.

The event has certainly fulfilled its brief as a race of international importance with the winning roll of honour reading like a Who’s Who of thoroughbreds. Taken at random, the race has been won by some truly great horses, many of whom went on to have important careers at stud, including, Pinza, Nijinsky, Mill Reef, Brigadier Gerard, Montjeu and Galileo.

The race is open to horses aged three years old and older and in the last 25 years the race has been dominated by three and four year old horses, with the Classic generation winning seven times and the four year olds winning on 13 occasions. The last time a horse aged older than four was in 1999 when the then five year old Daylami was successful. Over the last 12 years the race has been dominated by four year old runners who have won on nine occasions.

The betting is an interesting but by no means conclusive guide, as although six of the last twelve renewals have been won by the favourite, the race has also been won by horses with starting prices as high as 9/1 over the same period.

The honours have also been spread around as far as trainers are concerned in the last 12 renewals, but more than a second glance at runners entered by Aidan O’Brien (three wins), Sir Michael Stoute (two wins) and John Gosden (two wins) would be a good policy.

As we are now in the middle of the Flat season recent form clearly has a bearing on the likely winner. Seven of the last 12 winners of The King George won on their previous start and 11 of the last 12 winners ran within 50 days of the race. Eleven of the last 12 winners had also previously won over the race distance of 1 mile 4 furlongs and all 12 winners had won at least twice over varying distances, with 11 winners having won at least three times.

All of the last 12 winners had run at least twice prior to the race in the current season and nine of those winners had won at least once earlier in the season.

Previous Group winning form is vital as all of the last 12 winners had won at Group 1 or Group 2 level, with nine boasting at least one previous win in Group 1 events. An Official Rating of 116 or higher has been required to win the race in nine of the last 12 renewals.

When he won the Group 1 Prix Ganay on his seasonal reappearance by 4 lengths Cracksman looked the winning machine he had become in his three year old career. However, the fact he only just got up to win (with Frankie Detorri practically picking him up and running over the line with him) the Coronation Cup at Epsom two starts back and his lacklustre run in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot when finishing second by 2¼ lengths to Poet’s World he is reluctantly overlooked in favour of Crystal Ocean.

Although he is yet to win at Group 1 level he is showing all of the hallmarks of a highly progressive colt. He is unbeaten this season in two Group 3’s and his latest run, the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. His last two wins have seen him win by 6 lengths and 2½ lengths respectively. Trained by Sir Michael Stoute the four year old Bay Colt has plenty of winning form over the race distance and in the ground, and has also won previously over course and distance.

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