Westover, Emily Upjohn and Mishriff have all stood their ground for a fascinating renewal of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Racing.
The Ralph Beckett-trained Westover is a hot favourite for the midsummer highlight following his demolition job in the Irish Derby last month, but is unlikely to have things all his own way under Colin Keane, with John and Thady Gosden firing a formidable two-pronged assault.
Emily Upjohn was due to contest last weekend’s Irish Oaks following her narrow defeat in the Oaks at Epsom, but travel problems meant she missed out on a trip to the Curragh.
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As a result, Frankie Dettori’s mount joins her illustrious stablemate Mishriff, who was second to Adayar in last year’s King George and proved he is as good as ever when touched off by Vadeni in the Eclipse three weeks ago.
James Doyle partners Mishriff for the first time, replacing owner Prince Faisal’s former retained rider David Egan.
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Jockey James Doyle will speak to David Egan after replacing his weighing room colleague on Mishriff for Saturday’s King George following the conclusion of Egan’s retainer deal with owner Prince Faisal.
German raider Torquator Tasso, a shock winner of last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, adds international spice to the six-strong field.
Aidan O’Brien, who has previously struck gold in the mile-and-a-half contest with Galileo (2001), Dylan Thomas (2007), Duke Of Marmalade (2008) and Highland Reel (2016), this year relies upon Broome, who won the Hardwicke Stakes over the course and distance on his latest appearance.
Germany’s 80/1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Torquator Tasso heads to Ascot on Saturday looking to cause another major upset in the King George, live on Sky Sports Racing
Pyledriver ride put ‘fire in the belly’ of McDonald
The small but select field is completed by William Muir and Chris Grassick’s stable star Pyledriver, who found Hukum too strong when defending his crown in Epsom’s Coronation Cup last month.
With his regular rider Martin Dwyer sidelined by injury, and Dettori, who has been on the board the last twice, unavailable, PJ McDonald takes over in the saddle.
Jockey PJ McDonald says getting the call to ride Pyledriver from trainers William Muir and Chris Grassick in Saturday’s King George at Ascot is a ‘confidence-booster’
McDonald told Sky Sports Racing: “I’m absolutely delighted to get the call. I was always hopeful because I’ve won on him before and my agent has been on the ball for quite some time. My agent works for Martin [Dwyer] as well so we had some inside information about what was going on!
“I ride a lot for Willie [Muir] anyway so fingers crossed we can that rolling into Saturday.
“He’s got a chance as well so I’m looking forward to getting back on board.
“I’ve spoken to Martin briefly but we’ll have a good chat when we see the final decs and the draw. We’ll cover all angles. The camp are very relaxed.”
William Muir admitted he has had plenty of jockeys ringing up offering their services for the big ride on Pyledriver
McDonald’s career went to the next level between 2017 and 2019, when taking his yearly tally beyond 100 on three consecutive occasions and landing four Group One successes on Karl Burke’s Laurens.
Things have since slowed down somewhat with the 40-year-old picking up just two Listed prizes last season.
“I went through the early years of my career not really riding too many Group horses,” McDonald said. “In the latter years I’ve been lucky to have Laurens, Invincible Army and Clever Cookie and you get the taste for it. You do miss not riding them. It’s a great buzz to be part of the big days.
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“There would have plenty of jockeys queuing up to ride him so it’s a confidence-booster for me.
“I find myself in a privileged position to ride a good horse like this, they’re a different breed to what we ride on a daily basis. That’s what it’s all about and it makes that fire burn in the belly.”