COLM O’Donoghue could not be happier with Cape Blanco ahead of Saturday’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
The midsummer highlight, sponsored by Betfair, looks like being one of the hottest renewals in years with record-breaking Derby winner Workforce and his stablemate Harbinger in the line-up.
But O’Donoghue, who is replacing the suspended Johnny Murtagh on the Irish Derby winner, is in high spirits ahead of the Group One.
“I’m very confident and very happy with my horse going into the race,” he said of the Aidan O’Brien-trained three-year-old.
“He’s in great order, he’s in great shape.
“He has possibly gone forward from his Irish Derby run and hopefully he can put up a very good performance.
“Workforce is the Epsom Derby winner and a very good one at that. We have an awful lot of respect for him and I’m looking forward to taking him on again on Saturday,” he told At The Races.
In Cape Blanco and Workforce, the Classic generation have a golden opportunity of winning the race for the first time since 2003 when Irish Derby winner Alamshar beat Epsom victor Kris Kin.
Workforce is trained by Sir Michael Stoute, just like his main market rival Harbinger as the Freemason Lodge handler approaches the race in which he saddled the first three home 12 months ago.
Harbinger will be ridden by Olivier Peslier for the first time, as Stoute’s stable jockey Ryan Moore has elected to partner Workforce.
“I wasn’t there when Olivier rode work on Harbinger at the weekend, but my colleague Alison Begley was and she couldn’t contain her enthusiasm afterwards,” said Harry Herbert, spokesman for the owners. “There’s clearly all sorts of factions in the (Stoute) yard as to whether ‘Bing’ as they call him will beat Workforce and we’ll find out on Saturday.
“But it’s not a two-horse race, there’s some lovely horses in there and we’ll find out on the day.”
Stoute also runs Confront, who is expected to act as a pacemaker.
Adding further strength in depth to the older horse division is Mick Channon’s perennial bridesmaid Youmzain, last seen getting pipped again in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.
Youmzain has twice been placed in the race, as well as finishing runner-up in the last three renewals of the Arc.
Just behind Youmzain in France last time was Alain de Royer-Dupre’s filly Daryakana and the Hong Kong Vase winner reopposes. John Gosden’s Dar Re Mi is another with strong claims but the three-time Group One winner needs to bounce back from a disappointing run in the Eclipse.
With Stoute dominating the market, Sky Bet are offering a special bet of 7-1 that neither Workforce or Harbinger are in the first two places, highlighting a low return of winners for the yard this month.
King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes: Sky Bet bet – Evs Workforce, 5-2 Harbinger, 6-1 Cape Blanco, 14-1 Youmzain, Dar Re Mi, 16-1 Daryakana, 200-1 Confront.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved