The Bet Enthusiast Report – King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes
St Nicholas Abbey will never race again and although this is a blow for global racing the impact of the horse’s injury has an immediate significant effect on the betting for
Saturday’s King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. St Nicholas Abbey suffered a career ending injury on the gallops and could even lose his life if Wednesday’s
operation cannot save one of the best horses in training.
The horse is owned by the Coolmore syndicate and was trained at Ballydoyle in Ireland by Aiden O’Brien. His son Joseph has said that St Nicholas Abbey was the best horse
he has ever ridden and it will be a huge loss to the stable and owners. If the operation goes well the horse could enjoy a second career at stud and there are plenty of
breeders who would pay a significant amount of money for a coupling with one of their mares.
St Nicholas Abbey was unbeaten as a two year old in 2009 and was made the favourite for the following year’s 2000 Guineas. At even money the horse could only finish
sixth and only raced once in that campaign. Since then St Nicholas Abbey has won three Coronation Cups and two Breeders Cup races and is the highest earning Irish or
British trained horse in the history of the sport.
In the context of the big race at Ascot on Saturday this news strengthens the case for Cirrus Des Aigles, officially the highest rated horse in training. The French trained
animal got within two lengths of the mighty Frankel in the Champions Stakes at Ascot last October and on the basis of that run has a clear form advantage over the rest of
The race is usually the first championship test between the classic generation and older horses. It is run over 1 mile 4 furlongs, the same distance as the Derby and Prix de
L’Arc de Triomphe. However, the race has suffered from the emergence of lucrative international races which generally take place in the autumn. Champion’s Day at Ascot
now has an October date, staged in the same month as the Arc and in the month before the Breeders Cup races in the United States.
The timing of the King George V1 is now to its detriment as it falls at the wrong time in the context of the Classics, Royal Ascot and the end of season championship races.
The prize fund remains as lucrative as ever but the race also suffers from being run over an increasingly less commercial distance.
In any lists of the best horses in training in Britain Sky Lantern and Al Kazeem would figure prominently. Sky Lantern’s stamina could not cope with 12 furlongs while Al
Kazeem is now being trained with the Arc in mind and will be rested after a busy schedule of three Group I wins in the space of eight weeks.
Dawn Approach showed in the Derby that he is a miler and is unlikely to run over further during the rest of its career. Toronado excels in the same sphere and the Sussex
Stakes at Goodwood next week sees their next major showdown. The Derby form has not worked out well and Libertarian and Galileo Rock are now scheduled to run in the
St Leger at Doncaster in September.
These scenarios now leave the King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes with an identity problem and clearly the race has lost some of its reputation as a mid season
championship. That is reflected in the relatively weak potential turnout which sees the winners of just three Group 1 races besides Cirrus Des Aigles in the field.
The Classic generation is represented by Trading Leather and Hillstar. The former won the Irish Derby in some style but the form is questionable as Ruler Of The World and
Libertarian ran well below the level of form that saw them finish first and second in the English Derby. Galileo Rock came out of both races with most credit and is the
current favourite for the St Leger.
Hillstar has been supplemented for a fee of £75,000 and despite the wealth of any owner nobody wants to spend that type of money without genuine prospects of a return.
Hillstar beat Battle of Marengo at Royal Ascot after that horse was fourth in the Derby. The horse is a course and distance winner and looks a leading contender to finish in
the first three.
Mukhadram would have been an interesting runner based on form shown against Al Kazeem at Royal Ascot and the Eclipse Stakes. However, connections have decided to
run at York on Saturday but the owner will still be represented by Ektihaam, the horse that slipped up at Royal Ascot in the race won by Al Kazeem.
Red Cadeaux is a 33/1 outsider to win at Ascot at Saturday. The horse has run against the best all over the world and has been second in a Melbourne Cup and Dubai World
Cup during a consistent career. Bookmakers continue to underestimate the horse’s chances in these major international races and each way backers could again be rewarded
on Saturday with another placed effort.
However, Cirrus Des Aigles looks the horse to beat on ratings and form. Conditions were against the horse when only finishing fifth at Saint Cloud on its seasonal
reappearance last month. The horse performs several pounds better when racing right handed and given no bad luck in running it’s difficult to see nothing more than a win
by two lengths or more at Ascot on Saturday.
Any horse that can give Frankel a race must be respected at any level and the demise of St Nicholas Abbey makes Cirrus des Aigles an even more likely winner. It is a
shame that the race has lost one of its main attractions especially in the context of the struggle to maintain its importance.
Races are awarded or keep their Group status based on the average ratings of the placed horses over a number of years. The King George V1 will always be a Group 1 race
but needs a visually appealing run from Cirrus des Aigles to maintain its reputation as a significant championship race in the European Flat racing schedule.
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