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Salty Field Assembles in King George VI and QEII Stakes

Roger Varian will bid for a breakthrough success in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes (G1) when King Of Steel  takes on his elders at Ascot July 29.

The Betfred Derby (G1) runner-up faces a rematch with his Epsom conqueror Auguste Rodin  after winning the King Edward VII Stakes (G2) on his second start of the year at Royal Ascot.

His trainer said: “King Of Steel had two relatively close runs at Epsom and Royal Ascot and the time since has really done him well.

“He looks fantastic and is working well. The form of his win last time in the King Edward VII Stakes is nothing in comparison to what he will face on Saturday but the manner of his victory and the manner of his run in the Derby point to him being a high-class colt.

“I don’t think he’s out of place in the race but I respect the field enormously as it’s a very strong renewal, so we’re looking forward to it. We’re hopeful he’ll handle the ground as he did at Nottingham last year but it’s different when you’re racing against top opposition.”

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Can Auguste Rodin Emulate the Great Galileo?

Auguste Rodin could join an illustrious honor roll when he bids to become the first horse since Galileo to add the King George to his two Derby victories.

The 3-year-old Deep Impact colt denied King Of Steel under Ryan Moore at Epsom in June before beating Adelaide River  by a length and a half in the Irish Derby (G1).

He is backed up by senior players Luxembourg , Point Lonsdale , and Bolshoi Ballet , who form the largest team from Ballydoyle in this race since 2019.

“We’re very happy with Auguste Rodin and everything gone well since the Curragh,” said Aidan O’Brien. “The better the ground, the better it will suit us as he’s a beautiful mover who doesn’t raise his feet much. It looks like a great race and we’re looking forward to it.”

On his other contenders, the trainer added: “We always thought this race would suit Luxembourg. He’s very straightforward and we thought he’d enjoy a mile and a half, so this race has been on the agenda all year. Point Lonsdale ran well at Epsom and has been in good form since, while Bolshoi Ballet ran very well at Ascot and the mile and a half should suit him nicely.”

A Second Chance for Emily Upjohn

Emily Upjohn  has been handed a second chance in the King George after trailing home last of six in the group 1 contest last season for John and Thady Gosden.

Emily Upjohn (Frankie Dettori) wins the Coronation Cup<br>
Epsom 2.6.23 Pic: Edward Whitaker
Photo: Edward Whitaker/Racing Post

Emily Upjohn surges home to take the Coronation Cup at Epsom Racecourse

The 4-year-old, who was also second in last year’s Oaks (G1), won the Coronation Cup (G1) on her seasonal reappearance before chasing home Paddington in the Coral-Eclipse (G1).

She will be reunited with her old ally Frankie Dettori after he missed her last start due to a careless riding ban and the jockey will now bid to win the King George for an eighth and final time.

Joint-trainer Thady Gosden said: “Emily Upjohn ran a very good race to be second to Paddington in the Coral-Eclipse when she was a little slowly away and was running short of her optimum trip.

“She was not disgraced by finishing second to an exceptional horse and has come out of that well. This has always been her main midsummer target and she won over course and distance last year on Champions Day when the ground was similar to what it will be this weekend. We expect her to run well in what will be the race of the season so far.”

Key Day for Owen Burrows

Midweek rain triggered a gamble on Hukum  and the 6-year-old could be vying for favoritism before the off on a big day for trainer Owen Burrows.

Hukum (Jim Crowley) works on the turf training track<br>
Meydan 24.3.22
Photo: Edward Whitaker/Racing Post

Hukum works on the turf course in 2022 at Meydan Racecourse

Last year’s Coronation Cup winner returned from nearly a year off to defeat Desert Crown  in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes (G3) at Sandown in May before missing Royal Ascot due to quick ground.

“It’s been well documented that he’s better with a bit of juice in the ground but the majority of the principals have all won with a bit of cut, so I don’t see it being detrimental to their chances either,” Burrows said.

“We’re very pleased to see the rain because at the end of the day and you don’t expect it to be soft or good to soft at this time of year—that’s the sort of punt you take with our British summer weather.

“His victory over Desert Crown took us by surprise a bit. He’s possibly shown a bit more speed in his work this year, but I’d have been happy to finish a running-on second and it’s huge to have a runner with a chance in a race like this.”

Pyledriver Back for More

Pyledriver  has often flown under the radar but he could emulate Enable by winning back-to-back runnings of the King George as a 6-year-old.

He was sent off the joint-longest price in the field at 18-1 last season before beating five rivals, including the reopposing Westover  and Emily Upjohn.

William Muir, who trains in partnership with Chris Grassick, said: “We’ve had a perfect run into the King George and hopefully he can do what he did in the race last year.

“The ground won’t be a problem and it’s great to be involved in such a prestigious race. On paper, it’s a very strong contest but this time last year it was a strong race as well with Emily Upjohn and Westover in there, so we’ll be seeing them again as well as some smart 3-year-olds.

“It depends if they can turn up on the day, but Pyledriver is in good form and I expect him to run his race as he always does.”

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