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Cracking King George in prospect with Hillstar supplemented

22 Jul 2013

A genuine clash of the generations is on the cards in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by Betfair) at Ascot on Saturday with top class three-year-olds Trading Leather and Hillstar set to take on the cream of their older counterparts.

St Nicholas Abbey has won three Coronation Cups but can he make it third time lucky in the King George? Image courtesy of

The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by Betfair) remains as vibrant today as it has through its history and a sensational line-up looks on the cards for Saturday’s 63rd renewal.

Now worth £1 million, the joint-third most valuable Flat race in Britain after the Investec Derby and QIPCO Champion Stakes (and level with the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes), the King George continues to attract Europe’s elite.

On course to run this year is the world’s top-rated middle distance horse, French star Cirrus des Aigles, who won the QIPCO Champion Stakes in 2011 and pushed Frankel hard in the same race last year, and Europe’s highest ever money-earner, Irish star St Nicholas Abbey.

He has won almost £5 million and finished third in the race the last two years.

Also on course is a new German star, Novellist, who has taken over the mantle from the retired Danedream.

The latter became the first German-trained winner of the race when she got up to beat the 2011 winner, Nathaniel, in the final stride 12 months ago.

With Ektihaam, who slipped up when leading the field in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, the fast improving Universal, and the high class Red Cadeaux also possibles for the final line-up, the older generations have a great deal going for them.

However, two high class three-year-olds lie in wait.

Trading Leather is seeking to follow in the footsteps of St Jovite, who won the Irish Derby and King George for trainer Jim Bolger back in 1992.

Trading Leather has already completed the first half of his task, winning the Irish Derby for a jubilant Bolger. Can he fulfil the second part?

Only one three-year-old had been set to run, but at today’s confirmation stage Sir Michael Stoute supplemented one of his best three-year-olds, Hillstar, at a cost of £75,000.

After two handicap defeats, he landed the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last month in fine style and is a typical Sir Michael Stoute improver.

Stoute knows exactly what it takes to win a King George as he holds the joint record of five victories in the race with Saeed bin Suroor and the late Dick Hern.

The final declarations for the midsummer, middle distance championship race, race five in the Middle Distance division of the QIPCO British Champions Series, will be made on Thursday morning.