This middle distance, mid summer highlight of the racing calendar, was first run in 1951, as a Top level contest open to all ages. Historically the classic generation, with 30 victories have had the better of the argument, (including last year with the John Gosden trained Enable) but with only the five wins since the dawn of the new millennium their star has become slightly tarnished. Training honours, with an impressive five victories apiece, are shared by Saeed Bin Suroor, and veteran Newmarket Maestro, Sir Michael Stoute, and the latter, with the two market leaders, Poets Word and Crystal Ocean, in his care at the Freemason Lodge Academy, must fancy his chances of landing a sixth success.
Poet’s Word has won six of his fifteen starts, accumulating an impressive, near £2,000,000 in win and place prize money but has only managed to bag a single top level success. However that was achieved in his last race, the 10f Group1 Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot where he put the 2/5 fav, Cracksman firmly in his place. A slight concern is his lack of success at the top level over Saturday’s trip, but his canny trainer is in no doubt that he will be equally effective over a mile and a half, and a quick glance at the 5yo’s pedigree would suggest that he might even improve for it. By Poets Voice, out of the Nashwan mare, Whirlybird, who was a winner herself at 11f, and is the dam of two animals who were best at two miles. Poets Word is a late maturing animal, the type The Master Of Freemason Lodge excels with, and a repetition of his Ascot effort will make him hard to beat.
His stable companion, Crystal Ocean has yet to score a top level success, but the 4yo put up a tremendous effort in his sole attempt at a Group1, when going down by a battling 1/2L to Capri in last year’s St Leger. The son of Sea The Stars (pictured) may have been found out by the trip at Doncaster, but back at Saturday’s distance, over which he’s won on three occasions, including last time out, when taking the Group2 Hardwicke Stakes at The Royal Meeting (over Saturday’s course and distance Good/Firm) is bound to prove a very live contender. Beautifully bred, he is a half brother to the Group2 winning mare, Crystal Capella, and the Group1 winning stallion, Hillstar. All in all he has plenty to recommend him at the weekend.
With five entries at the time of writing, Aidan O’Brien is mob handed but if the markets have got it right, his best chance of landing a 5th win in the race lies with his improving, 3yo, Kew Gardens. Always well thought of at Ballydoyle, he finished of his 2yo career in some style, beating the subsequent Derby runner up, Dee Ex Bee by 3 1/2L in The Zetland Stakes at Newmarket last October over 1m2f. Disappointing in his first four races this term, he came good at the fifth time of asking, winning the 14f Group2 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot by 4 3/4L and a neck from his stable companions Southern France and Nelson. The drop back to 12f proved no obstacle next time, when he won the Group1 Grand Prix De Paris by 1 1/4L from Neufbosc, with Dee Ex Bee 4 1/4L back in 3rd. The son of Galileo is improving at a rate of knots and it wouldn’t take a lot more to see him in the winners enclosure on Saturday.
Despite winning the Group1, Prix Ganay on his reappearance with his head in his chest, the John Gosden trained Cracksman has looked less than enthusiastic in his last two races. While it is dangerous to dismiss such a talented animal, the Gosden yards best chance of landing a 4th King George may lie with the 4yo filly Coronet. A daughter of Dubawi, she performed with plenty of credit as a 3yo, but her two runs this campaign would suggest that she is an improved filly. She won the Group2 Middleton Stakes at York on her reappearance over 10f, and four weeks later only lost out by a nose in a bobbing finish to the Andre Fabre trained Waldgeist in the 12f Group1 Grand Prix De Saint-Cloud on Good/soft ground. Fabre has withdrawn his talented colt from Saturday’s contest because of the likelihood of a fast surface, but the Gosden filly will relish a return to such ground.
Selection : Kew Gardens
E.W. : Coronet