Reel to rule in King George at Ascot
David Metcalf | July 22, 2016
Highland Reel holds all the aces in King George
Highland Reel lucked an unlucky loser last time out and can gain his revenge on Dartmouth to land the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot (16.30).
The Aidan O’Brien trained four-year-old is a very smart colt and already has wins to his name in four countries.
In the last of those, Highland Reel beat Flintshire by 1 1/2 lengths in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin.
That is very strong form and Highland Reel was far from disgraced on his first start this season when a keeping on to finish a 4 1/4 length fourth to Postponed in Meydan.
Although then not at his best next time up in a Group 1 at Sha Tin when just eighth, the son of Galileo showed that running to be all wrong when beaten just a head by Dartmouth in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes over course and distance last month.
Cracking effort after rider dropped whip
After being settled on the heels of the leaders, jockey Seamie Heffernan asked him to make his move two from home.
At that point he also dropped his whip and that was to prove costly as his mount edged right and got leaned on by the eventual winner deep inside the final furlong.
It was to Highland Reel’s credit that he stuck to the task well to go down by a narrow margin, and in the circumstances it was a cracking effort.
To my mind he would have won had his rider not lost the persuader and there is every chance that Highland Reel could be able to dominate in this race.
If that proves to be the case he will be a tough nut to crack.
Dartmouth sure to go well
Dartmouth carries the colours of The Queen and would be a popular winner.
Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, the colt is unbeaten in three starts this season and produced a career best in the last of those when landing the Hardwicke.
Everything dropped right for the four-year-old that day but to he stuck to the task well and is clearly still improving and worth a crack at this level.
Dartmouth also hails from a yard that knows what is required to win the race as Stoute has already saddled five winners of the 1m 4f showpiece courtesy of Shergar (1981), Opera House (1993), Golan (2002), Conduit (2009), and Harbinger (2010).
Erupt not to be underestimated
French raider Erupt is another that commands plenty of respect. The colt won his first four starts, including a Group 1 at Longchamp, and also ran cracking races to finish fifth in the Arc and sixth in the Japan Cup.
Erupt also ran very well last time out when given far too much to do and finishing with a flourish to be beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Silverware in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.
That was just the second start of the campaign for the son of Dubawi and the four-year-old should now be spot on to do himself justice.
Coral’s top tip: Highland Reel has plenty going for him and looks the answer to a wide-open renewal of the King George. French raider Erupt is feared most.