Harbinger wins the King George in sensational, record-breaking stylePICTURE: Edward Whitaker/racingpostpix.com
Harbinger annihilates King George rivals
Report: Ascot, Saturday
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Group 1) 1m4f, 3yo+
HARBINGER absolutely annihilated his King George rivals with a memorable victory in the midsummer showpiece at Ascot.
The Hardwicke Stakes winner reeled off a four-timer in scintillating style, travelling into the race supremely well for French jockey Olivier Peslier before blasting clear to post an 11-length romp in a course-record time of 2m 26.78s.
The 4-1 shot gave trainer Sir Michael Stoute back-to-back King George victories, with Cape Blanco a street back in second and Derby winner Workforce, sent off the 8-11 favourite, a big disappointment in finishing second-last.
William Hill cut Harbinger to even-money (from 8-1) for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, although Coral go a top-priced 2-1 (from 10-1).
Harry Herbert: emotionalPICTURE: Mark Cranham
An emotional Harry Herbert, spokesman for winning owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said: "This is the best moment of my life - bar Motivator winning the Derby - but this is Highclere. It's the blue silks.
"I'd advise anyone to get into owning race horses, it reduces grown men to tears.
"It's such an ambition for everyone, for the stable hands, for Michael [Stoute], for all my team at Highclere, and for all the owners whoput in so much money."
Stoute saddled half the six-runner field in the quest for his fifth King George and, as expected, Confront assumed his pace-setting duties.
Cape Blanco and Workforce, first and second in the Totesport Dante Stakes earlier in the season, travelled side-by-side, three lengths off the pace, with Harbinger tracking in behind and Daryakana and Youmzain in arrears.
The order barely changed as the runners swung for home, but as push came to shove for the front trio, Peslier had barely moved a muscle on Harbinger, who was cruising into contention in striking fashion.
Olivier Peslier: "Harbinger is king"PICTURE: Edward Whitaker
As soon as Peslier let Harbinger go three furlongs from home, the contest was over in the blink of an eye and the gap back to the rest of the field increased all the way to the line.
Peslier, third on the Stoute-trained Ask in this race last year, said: "You feel like you've won at the one furlong marker. The horse is the king today! I know he is good, but he was so well today. Hetravelled so well."
Stoute added: "He just cantered and travelled so well. He was a decent three-year-old. He was very impressive in winning the Gorden, had a blip in the Voltigeur but bounced back in the John Porter."
And, with a knowing smile on his face, he admitted: "The Arc will be considered."
Aidan O'Brien, trainer of runner-up Cape Blanco, said: "We were delighted with him. He ran a great race and showed great heart, running all the way to the line.
"People wanted to see the two Derby winners here and they went together stride by stride.
"I wouldn't know yet where he would go next, but this horse wouldn't mind being stepped back in trip, so he might go back to York for the International [on August 17]."
Mick Channon, trainer of third-placed Youmzain, said: "He has run his race again and we're delighted. On that ground he has run a cracker and we'll probably go straight to the Arc now.
"The winner was very impressive - no crystal ball could see that coming."
Daryakana's trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre said: "She ran a good race. There are no excuses."