The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes is one of my favourite races. It is the third most valuable flat race in Britain.
But there is a shadow hanging over the race this year.
As I write the Coolmore team in Ireland report that their St. Nicholas Abbey “has many bridges to cross before he is out of danger.”
The one time favourite for this Saturday’s race is in intensive care having had a long operation. A winner of six Group 1 races, St. Nicholas Abbey sustained a life threatening injury to a pastern. The leg fracture occurred during a piece of work on the gallops at home in Ireland.
The absence of St. Nicholas Abbey has meant the betting market is now led by the French trained gelding Cirrus Des Aigles. For those of you who speak French, you can see an interview with his trainer Corine Barande-Barbe here
While Cirrus Des Aigles is a worthy favourite, the current price of 13/8 is too short for me in this instance. The gelding did get within a couple of lengths of the great Frankel at Ascot last October.
Last month he was beaten in the Grand Prix De Saint-cloud in France, finishing back in fifth that day. The victor was German raider Novellist, which is priced at 4/1 for the race this Saturday and has largely gone unnoticed by punters.
Ryan Moore rode Novellist to victory in that race in France, but he jumps ship this weekend.He does so in order to be on Hillstar. Ryan rides for Sir Michael Stoute. Hillstar has been supplemented to take part in this race. That means a sum of £75.000 has been paid to enter three year old Hillstar into this race following his impressive victory in the Grade 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The lightly raced colt was available at odds of 10/1 before the withdrawal of St. Nicholas Abbey. The best price as at Thursday is 7/1.
This is not the best field to ever go to the start for the King George VI and QE Stakes. Many of those who have shown promise of late, perhaps by winning Grade 2 races, are steeping up to Grade 1 company here and, as is the case with Hillstar, need to prove they have further improvement to come.
One is the Mark Johnston trained Universal. Another impressive winner of late, the colt came out on top in the Grade 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket. This is quite a jump in class but some each way backers may take the odds of 20/1 in the hope Universal gets placed.
Trading Leather won well in Ireland recently. Jim Bolger trained this colt to cause a bit of an upset when winning the Irish Derby at the Curragh. It is 21 years since Bolger trained the winner of the Irish Derby and the King George VI & QE Stakes in the same year.
The current price for Trading Leather is around 9/2.
Members of my selections service know where my money is going.
Come join them to find out before the race gets underway at 3.50pm on Saturday.