Dartmouth is the headline act among seven declarations for tomorrow’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
Following the news on Wednesday that Roger Varian’s ante-post favourite and last year’s winner Postponed would be forced to miss the midsummer highlight with a respiratory infection, the race has lost some of its lustre.
However, the supplemented Dartmouth is the type of story to bring racing on the front pages of British newspapers given he is owned by the Queen and is running in the race named after her parents.
Dartmouth’s trainer Michael Stoute is also aiming for a record sixth win in the race following the victories of Shergar (1981), Opera House (1993), Golan (2002), Conduit (2009) and Harbinger (2010).
Dartmouth only had a head to spare over Aidan O’Brien’s Hong Kong Vase winner Highland Reel in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and the pair clash again.
O’Brien also runs the Royal Ascot winner Sir Isaac Newton.
There is interest from France in the shape of Erupt, trained by Francis Graffard, whose biggest success to date came in the Grand Prix de Paris last season.
The three-year-old Classic crop is solely represented by John Gosden’s Wings Of Desire, who made rapid strides earlier in the season and won the Dante at York.
He could only manage fourth in the Derby behind Harzand but jockey Frankie Dettori expects Ascot to suit him better than Epsom.
Dettori said: “He seems in good shape, but he is so lazy at home it is hard to judge how good he is.
“He is getting 12lb and with Postponed not in the race it makes the test a bit easier, but the top two in the betting (Dartmouth and Highland Reel) are very good. I thought the Derby came a bit too soon for him.
“He just got in a muddle round Epsom and Ascot should suit him better.”
Gosden has also declared Western Hymn.
Luca Cumani is represented by Second Step.
Meanwhile, Time Test is the star turn in a five-strong field for tomorrow’s Sky Bet York Stakes.
So impressive when winning the Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot last summer, Roger Charlton’s four-year-old made a perfect start to the new campaign when landing the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown in May.
The Dubawi colt tested the water at Group One level for the third time in the Coral-Eclipse three weeks ago and was far from disgraced in finishing third on ground that was softer than ideal.
He is likely to be a warm order to regain winning ways on the Knavesmire and will be aided by stable companion and likely pacemaker Countermeasure.
The second-highest-rated horse in the line-up is the John Gosden-trained Mahsoob, who won the Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket in April before a disappointing effort in the Lockinge at Newbury.
Ralph Beckett’s Air Pilot, runner-up to Mahsoob on the Rowley Mile, reopposes and arrives off the back of a Group Three success in France.
Mondialiste, trained by David O’Meara, completes the quintent.
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