Dartmouth: has won all three starts this season
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Scott Burton 8:00AM 22 JUL 2016
OLIVIER PESLIER says he will “give everything” in pursuit of winning the Qipco King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Dartmouth on Saturday.
The Queen’s son of Dubawi heads seven declared runners for Ascot’s £1.15 million showpiece, andis vying for favouritism with old rival Highland Reel at 5-2.
Peslier is two from two aboard Dartmouth and said on Thursday there were clear differences in the Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt when he climbed aboard for last month’s Hardwicke Stakes compared to his first experience in a 1m4f handicap at Goodwood last August.
“When I saw him in the parade ring at Ascot I knew he had gained in maturity and that he had progressed,” said Peslier.
“The twice I’ve ridden I’ve held him up and found the best thing to do with him is to let him find his own rhythm and not to hurry him.”
Such tactics may not be quite so easy to execute on Saturday, with the field further depleted with the absence of Postponed’s pacemaker Ajman Bridge, as well as Ballydoyle’s Shogun.
“Dartmouth is courageous and he finished his races off well so I hope they don’t go too sedately,” said Peslier. “A slow, tactical race would be much more of a rarity in Britain than in France, while quick ground won’t bother him at all.
“It’s fantastic for the Queen to have a runner in the King George and if there’s a chance to win it for her I’ll give everything I can.”
Peslier has an excellent record when teaming up with Stoute in the King George, having partnered Papal Bull to be second to Duke Of Marmalade in 2008, as well as streaking away with the 2010 edition with the irrepressible Harbinger.
Peslier said: “Harbinger won the King George by 11 lengths, which had never been done before, and it was just extraordinary to do that in such a race. It was quite something.”
Peslier will be keeping a close eye on compatriot Stephane Pasquier in the race, who rides Erupt for Francis Graffard and the Niarchos family.
“I raced alongside him in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and, while my horse [One Foot In Heaven] wasn’t at his best that day, Erupt put in a very good performance and the timing is good for the King George,” said Peslier.
“Saturday will give us in France a clue as to the form lines ahead of the Arc as well.”
Dartmouth edged out Highland Reel by a head in the Hardwicke and the Aidan O’Brien-trained colt will be joined by Curragh Group 3-winning stablemate Sir Isaac Newton as O’Brien goes in search of a fourth success in the race.
John Gosden is also doubly represented, with Wings Of Desire and Western Hymn, while Luca Cumani – Postponed’s former trainer – will saddle Second Step.