St Nicholas Abbey: Coral cut his King George price to 3-1 (from 7-2)PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
'First signs of confidence' in St Nicholas Abbey
THE FIRST signs of life in St Nicholas Abbey's King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes price came on Thursday evening, as Coral reported laying the Ballydoyle contender for Saturday's big race after two quiet days.
St Nicholas Abbey had been displaced as favourite in the preceding 48-hours, with Nathaniel and Sea Moon overtaking him at the head of the market for the Betfair-backed £1 million Ascot contest, but there was precious little to choose between the trio after Coral cut St Nicholas Abbey to 3-1 (from 7-2).
Sea Moon is also 3-1 with Ladbrokes and Boylesports, while Nathaniel was widely available at 11-4.
"It's back to each of three as to who will start favourite; I wouldn't like to predict it," said Coral's David Stevens.
"We had pushed St Nicholas Abbey out to 7-2 but once he was declared then obviously his team are happy with him, and 7-2 was seen as too big.
"We laid him at that price and it was the first signs of confidence behind St Nicholas Abbey we had seen for a couple of days. The weakness seems to have gone."
Joseph O'Brien: in great formPICTURE: Patrick McCann
There is certainly no weakness in the form of St Nicholas Abbey's jockey, with Joseph O'Brien having ridden 13 winners in the last eight days, including a double at Leopardstown on Thursday night which took him top of the Irish Flat jockeys' championship.
Assessing the chances of St Nicholas Abbey, he told At The Races: "He won well the last time and seems in good form.
"Hopefully it will dry out for him - he wouldn't want it too soft. Nathaniel seems to have improved from last season but so has my horse."
Dunaden, around a 13-2 shot for the King George, will not be feeling the effects of his second place to Sea Moon in the Hardwicke Stakes over course and distance last month, according to trainer Mikel Delzangles, a race in which he finished strongly after trouble in running.
He said of the Melbourne Cup winner, in an exclusive interview in Friday's Racing Post newspaper: "He must be a tough horse to get back into it like that. I don't think it will have left its mark."
The going remained soft on the round course, good to soft on the straight, at Ascot on Thursday, where further showers were expected on Friday.
Clerk of the course Chris Stickels said on Thursday: "It's been mostly dry today but the forecast remains that showers could develop up to midnight. The forecast tomorrow remains the same, with showers quite possible, but after that there is an improving picture with high pressure moving in.
"It's quite likely Saturday will stay dry, and Sunday looks like being a nice dry day and quite warm."