Westover (left), Mishriff (centre) and Emily Upjohn are on course for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco at Ascot on Saturday

‘Who else would want to run away?’ – Happy Ascot despite only six left in King George | Horse racing news

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Westover (left), Mishriff (centre) and Emily Upjohn: on course for the King George at Ascot

By Stuart Riley

Irish Derby winner Westover and Oaks runner-up Emily Upjohn held their own when six runners remained to battle for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes (3.35) on Saturday.

Desert Crown, the Derby winner, has been removed as expected and the potential field reduced from 15 to six, with the two talented three-year-olds possibly taking on last year’s runner-up Mishriff, as well as reigning Arc hero Torquator Tasso, race-and-distance royal -Ascot winner Broome and Pyledriver.

Small fields have tainted the sport for the last year and the fact that £1.25million in prize money can’t win more than six potential runners for Britain’s most prestigious middle-distance competition will cause concern for many, but what it lacks in depth it makes up for intrigue out.

‘It has all the elements you would want’

Ascot race director Nick Smith suspects the disappointing turnout is due to the lack of quality middle-distance riders in Europe. If all six go to the post for the King George, it will be a three-year high for the race, with just three posts if Enable won the 2020 race for a third time and Adayar beat four rivals last year.

When asked if they expected better turnout for the huge sums of money on offer, Smith said: “I think the answer is, who else? The reality is Desert Crown would run and this is a very good field.

“It has all the elements you want without the Desert Crown. They may have the best three-year-old colt, the most exciting three-year-old filly in training, the Arc winner and Mishriff who brings the Eclipse form.

“We saw that all summer long. The Eclipse had a small field, the Prince of Wales, the Coronation Cup, the horses just aren’t there. It’s pretty hard to say what horse you could put in this field to make it a better race – who would run but Desert Crown?”

Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

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Emily Upjohn: seeded for the King George after missing the Juddmonte Irish Oaks last weekend

Emily Upjohn: seeded for the King George after missing the Juddmonte Irish Oaks last weekend

Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

The World Pool requires seven runners for its most popular bet, the swinger, but Smith added: “Elite fields, when they’re really elite, are smaller than you’d like. Of course we’d like to have seven or eight runners for a World Pool race. It would help, but it’s not entirely binary to look at the size of the field for betting performance.

“Depth of field is also important and races like this where you have a favorite opposing you can do well. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that all six are potential winners. If you have 1-3, 1-4 favourite, that’s not good, but as long as the race has a competitive field it doesn’t affect betting turnover too negatively, but of course it would be crass to say that an extra one or two runners would not help the World Pool.

Ascot have switched some races from the Friday card and increased prize money to ensure their field sizes are sufficient for World Pool purposes, and Smith added: “We can’t guarantee we’ll deliver that, but the King George aside I would hope , that for all other races we reach the seven runners plus per race. We need seven to make the World Pool tick.

Conditions at Ascot on Monday were good to firm, with good in places, with irrigation underway as Britain burned under a red alert heatwave for the first of two days.

Instructor Chris Stickels said on Monday afternoon: “Watering on the straight is done for the day and watering on the circuit will be done tonight. We’ll probably do the same tomorrow.

“We put in more than is coming out at the moment so as not to water on Wednesday. We’ll see if we get an odd shower before settling on Thursday because we’d like to water the day before the meetup if possible

“In a normal week we would apply 10mm every other day to combat evapotranspiration, but this week we’ll be going a little earlier because it’s so hot and then we get ready to think about what on Wednesday we will do by the end of the week depending on the forecast.

“The storms forecast for the end of the week are east of us. Although we might have a shower or two on Friday we are not seeing large crowds.”


King George Confirmations

Broome Aidan O’Brien
mixed reef John and Thady Gosden
pyle driver William Muir and Chris Grassick
Torquator Tasso Marcel Weiss
west end Ralph Beckett
Emily Upjohn John and Thady Gosden


King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes (Ascot, Saturday)

Coral: 11-8 Westover, 5-2 Emily Upjohn, 7-2 Mishriff, 12 Pyledriver, Torquator Tasso, 14 Broome


Read this next:

Torquator Tasso ready for Ascot raid after pleasing the trainer in Monday’s canter


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FIRST RELEASE ON JULY 18, 2022 AT 1:13 PM

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