The 4-year old Dartmouth (GB), owned by Her Majesty the Queen, faces six rivals on Saturday at Ascot in the 1 ½ mile King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1), a race named after the Queen's parents, and one that will offer an automatic berth into the $4 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) through the international Breeders' Cup Challenge.
The Breeders' Cup Challenge is a series of 81 stakes races whose winners receive automatic berths and fees paid into a corresponding race the Breeders' Cup World Championships, which will be held on November 4-5 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes is the fourth Breeders' Cup Challenge qualifier for the Longines Turf this year.
All starters in the King George are nominated to the Breeders' Cup as their stallions were nominated through the international Breeders' Cup Stallion Nomination program, so no additional fees will be required of the race winner to run in the Turf. Breeders' Cup will also provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all overseas starters in this year's Championships.
At 2-1, Dartmouth, trained by Sir Michael Stoute and ridden by Olivier Peslier, is unbeaten in three starts this year, including his most recent win by a head over Highland Reel (IRE) in the 1 1/2-mile Hardwicke Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot. Prior to that, the bay son of Dubawi (IRE), won the Ormande Stakes (G3) at Chester, and began the season on April 16 with a 4 ½ length win in the about 1 5/8 mile John Porter Stakes (G3) at Chelmsford.
Michael Stoute has trained five winners of the King George VI and four winners of the Breeders' Cup Turf.
The 5-2 second choice, Highland Reel, trained by Aidan O'Brien, has been a true world traveler over the last year, racing in the United States, Ireland, Australia, two separate trips to Hong Kong, Dubai, and in England. Along the way, the 4-year-old son of Galileo (IRE) won the Arlington Million (G1) last August and the Hong Kong Vase (GB) over Flintshire (GB) at Sha Tin in December. He was fourth against an all-star field in the 1 ½ mile Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) on March 26 at Meydan behind Postponed (IRE), Duramente (JPN) and Last Impact (JPN). Highland Reel dueled with Dartmouth in the stretch of the Hardwicke, but came up a head short. Highland Reel will be ridden by Ryan Moore on Saturday.
The Niarchos Family has entered the 4-year-old Erupt (IRE), winner of last year's Grand Prix de Paris (G1), which completed a four-race win street for the son of Dubawi. He was fifth in the Qatar Prix l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) in October and closed out the season finishing sixth in the Japan Cup (G1). Trained by F.H. Graffard and ridden by Stephane Pasquier, Erupt finished second by three lengths in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (G1) on July 3.
Lady Bamford's 3-year-old Wings of Desire (GB), a 3-year-old son of Pivotal (GB) trained by John Gosden and ridden by Frankie Dettori, was beaten less than three lengths in the Investec Derby (G1) at Epsom on June 4 in just his fourth career start. He came into the Derby off back to back wins in the 1 5/8 mile Dante Stakes (G2) at York over Deauville (IRE) on May 12 after breaking his maiden by six lengths at Wolverhampton on April 23. Gosden has also entered Western Hymn (GB), who was third in the Prince of Wales's Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot, and sixth in the Coral Eclipse (G1) at Sandown on July 2. Robert Havlin will ride Western Hymn.
Sir Isaac Newton (IRE), ridden by Seamie Heffernan, has won his last two starts for trainer Aidan O'Brien, taking the listed 1 ¼ mile Wolferton Stakes by five lengths at Royal Ascot on June 18, and followed up that score eight days later with a one-length win in the 1 ¼ mile Finlay Volvo International Stakes (G3) at The Curragh.
Second Step, winner of last year's Grosser Preis von Berlin (G1), and fifth in this year's Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Stakes (G1) at Sandown for trainer Luca Cumani and jockey Jamie Spencer, completes the field.
The first three horses to qualify for the Longines Turf this year through the Breeders' Cup Challenge series are Don Inc (ARG), winner of the Gran Premio 25 de Mayo (G1) in Argentina; My Cherie Amour (BRZ), who won the Grande Premio Brasil (G1), and Marialite (JPN), who captured the Takaruzuka Kinen (G1) in Japan.
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