Until the recently-retired So You Think came on the scene, horses that had contested the Melbourne Cup were regarded as more likely to head for the Ascot Gold Cup than the mile and a half King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. That has all changed now with So You Think proving a top class performer in Europe over a mile and quarter and the bookmakers are taking no chances with Dunaden in Saturday’s renewal.
William Hill offer only 11-2 about last year’s Melbourne Cup winner lifting the prize for French Trainer Mikel Delzangles and Australian jockey Craig Williams. Christophe Lemaire was on board when Dunaden won the Cup but Williams was in the plate when the six-year-old won the Hong Kong Vase and the Geelong Cup last season. Owner Sheikh Fahad Al Thani wants to establish a regular partnership with the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe as the main target. Lemaire is likely to be claimed to ride for his retained owner the Aga Khan later in the season so Williams, who has plenty of experience of European tracks and style of racing, has made himself available for Dunaden for the remainder of the season.
Dunaden put in an eye-catching performance at Royal Ascot when charging up the home straight to chase home Sir Michael Stoute’s Sea Moon (3-1 with Ladbrokes). The winner was a disappointing favourite for the St Leger last season but showed himself a top performer over a mile and a half and will again be difficult to pass on Saturday. Nathaniel was making his seasonal reappearance when landing the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown a fortnight ago and Gosden has voiced concerns about subjecting the horse to two hard races in quick succession. He is currently priced at 3-1 by William Hill and will be bidding to emulate Dahlia (1973-74) and Swain (1997-98) as only the third dual winner in the history of the race. Aidan O’Brien’s Coronation Cup winner St Nicholas Abbey is another leading contender for this Group 1 event and bids to follow up on his runaway Epsom Coronation Cup success.
St Nicholas Abbey (9-4 favourite with William Hill) looks held on last year’s run in this race behind Nathaniel but has since gone on to win at the Breeders’ Cup. Last year’s Arc winner Danedream (10-1 with Ladbrokes) adds to the international flavour of the race. Peter Schiergen’s star was only the second German-trained winner of the Arc in racing history and will be a threat to all if she can recapture that form. She was well beaten into sixth place in the Japan Cup but returned this season with an easy win at Baden-Baden and was unsuited by an early crawl in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud last time out.
The 12 entries are completed by Michael Owen’s Brown Panther and Japanese star Deep Brilliante, whilst French trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre is represented by Reliable Man and Shareta. Four-year-old Shareta was a 66-1 chance when she chased home Danedream in the Arc last season but has not managed to get her nose in front on four subsequent outings. The going is currently soft with the forecast of more rain before the weekend.
Author Profile: Harvey Mayson+