Gosden star Cracksman pulled out of King George due to ground
The King George lost one of its major players hours before the race with trainer John Gosden deciding against running Cracksman.
The four-year-old's participation was always going to be ground dependent, with connections stating in the build-up that rain would be needed for the colt to take his chance.
Although thunderstorms did hit parts of Britain on Friday night, they largely missed Ascot, which received only 2mm of rain. That left the going unchanged at good to firm, and having walked the course at lunchtime Gosden decided to scratch Cracksman.
"It was an easy decision to make," said the trainer. "It's drying up by the minute with the sun and wind. Mr [Anthony] Oppenheimer [owner] is here and was, like me, keen to run. We just got unlucky with thunderstorms.
"We had 25mm of rain at Newmarket and it’s soft there, like at York. But the nature of summer thunderstorms is that they hit in one place and not another.
"I don’t want to put him back on this type of ground again, he didn’t appreciate it last time at the royal meeting. The horse is in great form but it would be a little bit stupid to try our luck again on ground like this."
Robert Havlin, who was due to ride Cracksman, said: "We've got to do what's right for the horse and his main target is the Arc. There's no point running on fast ground again. He's been there and done that.
"He's in a great place at the minute. We just want to get everything right for him and get to the Arc."
Last year’s Champion Stakes winner was beaten on good to firm ground by Poet’s Word in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last month.
Cracksman is entered in the Juddmonte International at York on August 22 and the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes on September 15. He is a top-priced 7-1 behind stablemate Enable for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October.
Gosden added: "There's plenty of nice racing to come. We’re only halfway through the season.”
Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on racingpost.com