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King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes Guide: Can Gosden stop O’Brien?

Drew Goodsell | 23 July 2020

Our runner-by-runner guide of this year’s King George

With only four runners declared for this year’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, it’s down to Aidan O’Brien and his three horses to stop Enable retaining her crown.

John Gosden sends out his all-conquering-mare on their quest to land a record-breaking trio of wins in the Group 1 race, and it’s down to the Ballydoyle handler and his three picks to make the wait go on.

It may be a less packed race than it previously promised to be, but that shouldn’t make the four-way on track battle between Enable, Japan, Anthony Van Dyck and Sovereign any less powerful.

With the race live in front of the ITV Racing cameras from 15:35 on Saturday, we’ve cast our eyes over the declared runners in our runner-by-runner guide.

Enable | 1112-2 | Frankie Dettori | John Gosden

Two straight defeats may start alarm bells ringing in the Gosden camp, with a suggestion that Enable’s dominant form is beginning to come to an end.

After winning back-to-back Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe titles in 2017 and 2018, it was looking like there was no ceiling to this mare’s talents. But while those defeats represent two blots on her copybook, there could be a good reason behind both slip ups.

With such an explosive turn of foot, Enable favours firmer ground. But in her attempt to win her third Arc at Longchamp last season, softer ground may have contributed to her defeat, alongside the sheer determination of eventual winner Waldgeist.

In this season’s reappearance at the Coral-Eclipse, Ghaiyyath romped home by over two lengths to defeat Enable. But the Charlie Appleby-trained winner had benefitted from a run out in the Coronation Cup prior.

With everything on the line, including reputation, this is where we’ll find out exactly what the six-year-old has left to offer, having beaten rivals Japan and Anthony Van Dyck in previous races.

Japan | 114-43 | Ryan Moore | Aidan O’Brien

Of the three challengers being sent out from the Ballydoyle stables, it’s Japan who appears to be best placed to take Enable’s crown.

After a less than impressive first run this season in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, there was a marked improvement at Sandown in the Eclipse.

The colt stayed on in the closing stages to close up on Enable over the 1m 1f distance, so given an extra 3f in the King George, he shouldn’t be overlooked to upset Enable here.

Japan has been beaten by Gosden’s sole runner twice before, so he’ll need to find even more improvement to maintain a challenge throughout. If that improvement could be found at Ascot, he could add a third Group 1 win to his C.V.

Anthony Van Dyck | 330-25 | Oisin Murphy | Aidan O’Brien

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Anthony Van Dyck prance around the winner’s enclosure. In fact, he’s not hit the expected heights since his 2019 Epsom Derby win.

His form has disappointed, so much so that the horse that finished third in that race, Japan, is being given more of a chance of upsetting the favourite Enable.

We may have started to see some signs of a recovery from the four-year-old in recent times though, with an impressive second place finish behind Ghaiyyath in the Coronation Cup on their reappearance.

It could be that the conditions of the race suited him perfectly that day, with a less than impressive performance in the Hardwicke Stakes following. Ultimately, it depends which version of Anthony Van Dyck we see on the day.

Sovereign | 2301-3 | William Buick | Aidan O’Brien

O’Brien’s Sovereign may have romped to a six-length victory in the Irish Derby at the Curragh, but that may have been down to the mistakes of others on the day rather than his own potential.

Once he’d found his way to the front, he faced very little challenge from others and almost cantered home with ease.

Although there are only four runners in the field here, a win for Sovereign would be an even bigger shock given the class in the smaller pack.

It’s likely we’re looking at a battle between Sovereign and Anthony Van Dyck to secure third, but we can expect to see the four-year-old colt try to make the running again, but it’s almost a certainty that the victory will be out of his grasps.

View the latest King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes odds.

All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.