Dartmouth (left): supplemented for the King George earlier in the week
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Peter Scargill 10:50AM 21 JUL 2016
DARTMOUTH will face just six rivals as he bids to pick up the pieces of a Qipco King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes blown apart by the withdrawal of ante-post favourite Postponed.
Owned and bred by the Queen, Dartmouth is unbeaten in three starts this season including the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, the same race trainer Sir Michael Stoute plundered with his last King George winner Harbinger.
Dartmouth was supplemented for the King George earlier in the week and Stoute feels the four-year-old can continue his progress as Ascot.
He said: “Dartmouth has kept improving. He started the year on 101 and has improved with every race (now 119). He is very consistent and will run a good, solid race on Saturday.”
Postponed was saddled to victory in the King George last year by trainer Luca Cumani before the five-year-old was controversially moved across Newmarket to Roger Varian.
However, with Postponed absent, Cumani is aiming to capture back-to-back runnings of the Ascot prize with Second Step set to represent him on Saturday.
Cumani said: “Unfortunately, horses are always prone to things going wrong. I’m sad for Roger that this is the case with Postponed, and that his hopes and expectations of winning a King George have been thwarted just a few days before.
“Now that Postponed is out it’s worth having a shot at. On form Second Step hasn’t got the best chance but his owner is keen to run and the horse is in good form. We hope he puts his best foot forward and runs a good race.”
Dartmouth heads the betting at a top price of 9-4. His leading challenger in the market is 11-4 shot Highland Reel, who will be accompanied to Ascot by stablemate and Royal Ascot winner Sir Isaac Newton, while Erupt, Wings Of Desire and Western Hymn complete the field.