Postponed had been the 1-2 favourite prior to being ruled outPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Postponed out of King George with infection
POSTPONED, the 1-2 favourite for Saturday's King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, will miss the race after he was sensationally ruled out with a respiratory infection on Wednesday morning.
Throwing the mid-summer showpiece wide open, trainer Roger Varian confirmed the star five-year-old had returned an unsatisfactory scope just days before bidding to defend his crown.
Owned by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, Postponed has been imperious in landing the Dubai Sheema Classic and Coronation Cup and was widely expected to have too much for his rivals again this weekend.
'The interests of the horse must come first'
Speaking to his website on Wednesday, Varian said: "Up until this point, Postponed had not given us any worry during his training regime.
"However, we felt Postponed did not work with his usual zest this morning and a subsequent scope showed he is suffering from a respiratory infection.
"This news is obviously very disappointing and it is a real shame for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, the team and the racing public that he will not line up on Saturday.
"But, as is always the case, the interests of the horse must come first. If he is not 100 per cent, the only sensible thing to do is not to run."
On revised plans for the son of Dubawi, Varian added: "We will let the horse recover from this setback before making a plan of where he runs next.
"We still have many big days ahead to look forward to."
Dartmouth hopes boosted
The news of Postponed's absence led to a major shake-up in the betting for Saturday's race, with the Queen's supplemented Hardwicke Stakes winner Dartmouth now the 2-1 favourite, having been 11-2 earlier on Wednesday morning.
Victory for Dartmouth would provide the Queen with her first win in the race named after her parents for 62 years, with Aureole having claimed it in 1954.
"It's disappointing that a star like Postponed will miss the King George, but it has opened the race up and from a punting perspective it is now far more competitive," said William Hill spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke.
"The Queen now has a really good chance of having a winner."
The Aidan O'Brien-trained Highland Reel is now William Hill's 11-4 second favourite, with Wings Of Desire at 9-2 for John Gosden.