Enable's task in King George made easier as key contenders head elsewhere
Three potential challengers to superstar Enable are set to bypass Saturday’s Qipco King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, while connections of the dual winner are confident she has made significant physical progress as she bids for a historic third victory at Ascot.
The trainers of Derby fifth English King and last year’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner King Of Change outlined alternative plans for their runners, while the Racing Post understands last year’s Prix du Jockey Club winner Sottsass is unlikely to feature among Monday's entries.
Ed Walker admitted the King George was a tempting target for Lingfield Derby Trial winner English King, who had been a general 14-1 for Ascot, but is instead targeting the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes at York with the Bjorn Nielsen-owned three-year-old.
He said: "He worked really well and we've very happy with him but we’re just going to take the sensible route with him.
"As tempting as the King George is, there's no such thing as having an easy race in the Derby. He ran the fastest three furlongs and I just think that three weeks is quick enough. We’ll bide our time and I think we’re going to head to York for the Voltigeur.
"He is hopefully a super-exciting horse for the future. We could go to Goodwood for the Gordon Stakes, but I think we’re leaning more towards the Voltigeur. That seems a sensible next step."
The King George was less tempting for King Of Change, who was 20-1 for the Group 1, with trainer Richard Hannon focusing on autumn targets for the four-year-old, who was last seen carrying the colours of owner Ali Abdulla Saeed to victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Hannon said: “We'll wait for the autumn like we did last year. We’ll go for the same programme again, I’d have thought, with something like the Prix du Moulin and then the QEII or the Champion Stakes. Those are the sort of races we’re looking at and it’s because he has a preference for easier ground. He’s a very good horse.”
The likely absence of English King, King Of Change and Sottsass, as well as Juddmonte International-bound Ghaiyyath, leaves Magical and Japan as the chief market threats to Enable.
The six-year-old was beaten into second by Ghaiyyath on her comeback run in the Eclipse at Sandown, where trainer John Gosden estimated his dual Arc winner to be 85 per cent fit, and she is believed to have come forward since her reappearance.
Gosden’s son and assistant Thady said: “She's very well at the moment, working nicely and has come on a lot for her run at Sandown. Everything has gone to plan and Sandown has put her back to where we want her to be.
“At the moment things are going smoothly. Her attitude is very good at home and physically she's improved a lot."
Enable is the general 11-10 favourite to become the first horse to win the King George three times, with only Dahlia and Swain winning the race more than once.
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