Fast ground forces Fabre to rule Waldgeist out of King George
One obvious threat to Sir Michael Stoute's domination of this year's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes has disappeared after Andre Fabre on Tuesday revealed Waldgeist is to set to miss Ascot's £1.25 million showpiece.
The Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner, who had been quoted between 6-1 and 9-1 for the Qipco-backed spectacular, will remain in France this weekend due to Fabre being unwilling to saddle the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe aspirant on fast ground.
With Waldgeist now expected to be absent, Stoute's Prince of Wales's Stakes winner Poet's Word continues to harden in the market. He is now favourite with a number of firms, in preference to stable companion Crystal Ocean, who had been clear ante-post market leader since stamping his authority over the Hardwicke Stakes field.
Fabre said: "I was hesitating in case there was a change in the weather but I think I will skip the race. I don't want to run him on too fast ground in what would be a difficult race for him.
"I will give him a prep race for the Arc and then there are big end-of-season races abroad."
Crystal Ocean can still be backed at 2-1, with Poet's Word available at 9-4. Victory for either horse would give Stoute a record-breaking sixth King George triumph.
"I'm just concentrating on getting them there in one piece," said Stoute.
"My horses are first and second favourite. They might not finish first and second but they are entitled to be there.
"Crystal Ocean has won all three of his starts this year and he has won at Ascot over the course and distance. He is impervious to ground so I'm not concerned about that.
"The Prince of Wales's Stakes would have been Poet's Word's best performance to date. He has been recording high levels of form and he seems versatile over ten or 12 furlongs. He has won at the track as well."
Aidan O'Brien expects to run up to three of his remaining five King George entries and on Tuesday nominated Rostropovich as likely to join Ballydoyle's number-one candidate Kew Gardens, who returns to the scene of his Queen's Vase victory having most recently landed the Grand Prix de Paris.
"He's a progressive horse, physically he's doing very well and he seems to be stepping up with every run," said O'Brien of Ryan Moore's mount Kew Gardens.
"We had our eye on the King George for a long time because he's a horse who likes fast ground and stays very well.
"The French race was perfect for him and we felt we would get a better picture of him there. Ryan has always liked him a lot and he rode him like he thinks he's a very nice horse.
"He has a great mind and great constitution. Everyone seems to be very happy with him."
The ground remains good to firm at Ascot, where forecast thunder showers on Friday have the potential to bring rain amounting to 5mm, the same amount currently being put on the track each day through irrigation.
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