Taghrooda would be only the second Oaks winner to capture the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Sponsored by QIPCO) in the same year if successful at Ascot on Saturday, 26th July.
The three-year-old filly, owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum, trained by John Gosden and likely to be ridden by the owner’s retained jockey Paul Hanagan, is out to follow in the footsteps of Pawneese who won the fillies’ Classic at Epsom Downs by five lengths before a length victory over Bruni in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1976.
Another Oaks winner has been successful in the 12-furlong King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but Time Charter’s triumph came a year after (1983) her Epsom Downs victory.
Sheikh Hamdan, successful with Nashwan in 1989, is seeking a second King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes success, while Gosden has enjoyed one winner (Nathaniel in 2011) from six runners. Hanagan is due to have his first mount in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
There have been seven successes for fillies and mares in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes. The only other three-year-old filly, besides Pawneese, to succeed was Dahlia in 1973. Dahlia won the race again in 1974, while the other female scorers were Danedream (2012), Park Top (1969) and Aunt Edith (1966).
A total of 56 fillies and mares have taken part in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, with Look Here (sixth in 2009) the last Oaks winner to attempt the double.
The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Sponsored by QIPCO), Britain’s top middle-distance race, is being run for the 64th time. Three-year-olds and four-year-olds have both been successful 28 times, while five-year-olds have won six renewals and one six-year-old has been victorious.
Brown Panther, part owned by Michael Owen and trained by Tom Dascombe, is the only six-year-old still engaged this year, while there are two five-year-olds – the William Haggas-trained Mukhadram, another owned by Sheikh Hamdan, who was successful in the Group One Coral-Eclipse last time out, and the Lady Cecil-trained Noble Mission who runs in Khalid Abdullah’s famous colours.
The winner of the Eclipse has gone on to victory 12 times (in the same year) in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, though none has triumphed at Ascot since Opera House in 1993. The others to do the Eclipse/King George double in the same year were Tulyar (1952), Ballymoss (1958), Busted (1967), Royal Palace (1968), Mill Reef (1971), Brigadier Gerard (1972), Ela-Mana-Mou (1980), Kalaglow (1982), Dancing Brauve (1986), Mtoto (1988) and Nashwan (1989).
Noble Mission gained his first Group One victory in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh earlier this year and three winners of the Irish race have won the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes in the same year – Montjeu (2000), Hurricane Run (2006) and Duke Of Marmalade (2008).
The six four-year-olds are headed by Telescope, owned by the Wavertree Syndicate of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, trained by Sir Michael Stoute and ridden by Ryan Moore, who was the impressive seven-length winner of the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes over the same course and distance at Royal Ascot. Another Highclere horse, Harbinger, also trained by Sir Michael, took the 2010 Hardwicke Stakes in terrific style and then won the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes by a record margin of 11 lengths next time out.
Among those with entries this year, Sir Michael is the most successful trainer in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, with five victories from 35 runners. Harbinger was the latest of them, with the others being Conduit (2009), Golan (2002), Opera House (1993) and Shergar (1981). Moore was successful on Conduit (from seven rides in the race).
Godolphin is going for a sixth King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes victory with the Jim Bolger-trained Trading Leather, who was second last year, after success with Doyen (2004), Daylami (1999), Swain (1998 & 1997) and Lammtarra (1995). Irish-based Bolger, who also trains likely pacemaker Leitir Mor, has had one King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes success – St Jovite in 1992 – from three runners.
Michael Tabor, part-owner of Magician and Hall Of Mirrors who are both trained in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien, is also after a sixth King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes win, following on from Duke Of Marmalade (2008), Dylan Thomas (2007), Hurricane Run (2006), Galileo (2001) and Montjeu (2000).
There have been 11 Irish-trained winners of the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, with O’Brien sending out three of them (Duke Of Marmalade, Dylan Thomas and Galileo). French raiders have succeeded 10 times and there is one potential runner this year, the Andre Fabre-trained and Abdullah-owned Flintshire. Fabre has had one King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakeswinner from seven runners – Hurricane Run.
The two other three-year-olds, besides Taghrooda, among the 12 horses going forward at today’s five-day stage are supplementary entry Eagle Top, who won Royal Ascot’s Group Two King Edward VII Stakes for owner Lady Bamford in good style on only his third start, and Romsdal, who races for Princess Haya Of Jordan and finished third in the Derby last time out. Both are trained by Gosden, who is responsible for the three three-year-olds in the 2014 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes which is now worth £1,065,000.
Eagle Top is aiming to be the third King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner who also took the King Edward VII Stakes in the same year. The two to achieve this double have been Nathaniel (2011) and Supreme Court (1951).
Nick Smith, Ascot’s Head of Communications and International Racing, commented: “This is what the King George is all about – a Classic-winning three-year-old and up-and-coming Royal Ascot winner of that generation taking on the very best of the older horses, headed by Telescope, who has all the hallmarks of being another Harbinger for the same team after his Hardwicke Stakes win.
“To have Mukhadram, the Coral-Eclipse winner, in there too, and the likes of Flintshire and Noble Mission as possibles, makes this one of the most exciting renewals of Europe’s premier midsummer race for some time.”