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Saturday 10 December 2016

Peslier ready to rule George

French jockey is confident of continuing his winning partnership with Queen's Dartmouth

Olivier Peslier on board Dartmouth as they beat Highland Reel in the Hardwicke. They go head-to-head again today. Pic: racingpost.com
Olivier Peslier on board Dartmouth as they beat Highland Reel in the Hardwicke. They go head-to-head again today. Pic: racingpost.com

Olivier Peslier is looking forward to being reunited with Dartmouth in today's King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

The crack French jockey partnered Queen Elizabeth's colt for the first time in last month's Hardwicke Stakes and the combination provided her with a Royal Ascot winner in the year of her 90th birthday.

Dartmouth had to be supplemented for this weekend's main event on Monday at a cost of £75,000 and now heads the market following the defection of last year's winner and odds-on favourite Postponed due to a respiratory infection.

Peslier is expecting a bold show from the four-year-old, whilst respecting the opposition.

Confident

He said: "I'm confident, of course. He has a really good chance. Postponed is a top-class horse, (but) even without him it is a very good race.

"I think it might be a tactical race as there are not too many runners. We hope for a good pace.

"I think he (Dartmouth) can improve. He has good experience, he has been coming up all the time and is trained by a champion in Michael Stoute.

"It is very difficult to say who will win. There are seven runners and all seven have a chance of winning."

It is six years since Peslier steered the Stoute-trained Harbinger to a brilliant victory in the mid-summer showpiece on what turned out to be the final start of his career.

Harbinger's triumph was a fifth in the race for the master of Freemason Lodge, with the legendary Shergar (1981), Opera House (1993), Golan (2002) and Conduit (2009) all on the roll of honour.

"Harbinger was a champion. He won the King George by 11 lengths.

"This is a different horse and a different race," said Peslier.

Not since 1954 with Aureole have the royal colours been carried to victory in the King George, but Stoute is keeping his fingers crossed Dartmouth can end the long wait this weekend.

"Dartmouth has kept improving. I thought he would be in the frame (in the Hardwicke), but I thought we would win the race with Exosphere (eighth)," said the trainer.

"He started the year on 101 and has improved with every race (now on a mark of 119).

"He is very consistent and will run a good, solid race."

Just a head behind Dartmouth in the Hardwicke was Aidan O'Brien's Hong Kong Vase winner Highland Reel.

That was his first run since finishing well beaten in QEII Cup at Sha Tin in April so he has the potential to improve again.

O'Brien said of Ryan Moore's mount: "He's in good form and we've been happy with him since Ascot.

"He ran very well there and we were very happy with him.

"The plan going to the Hardwicke was with an eye on going back for the King George."

O'Brien also saddles recent Curragh Group Three scorer Sir Isaac Newton, who won the Wolferton Handicap at the Royal fixture and will be ridden Seamie Heffernan.

The Ballydoyle trainer said: "We're very happy with him. He really started coming to himself before Ascot.

"We were delighted with him there and delighted with him at the Curragh.

"It's another big step up, and a step up in trip. When he ran in the Jersey and was unlucky we thought he'd be a miler, even though he's bred to get further.

"He's starting to relax now. He was plenty mature enough but immature in his mind."

Improve

Luca Cumani trained Postponed when he was successful 12 months ago and this year he is represented by Second Step, who is a Group One winner in Germany but will need to improve markedly on what he has shown to date this season.

Cumani said: "Now that Postponed is out it's worth having a shot.

"On form, Second Step hasn't got the best chance but his owner is keen to run and the horse is in good form."

John Gosden's Wings Of Desire, the only three-year-old in the field, won the Dante at York but was only fourth in the Derby.

"He's in good form," said jockey Frankie Dettori. "You don't know how to compare the three-year-olds with the older horses yet.

"He's the only three-year-old in the field. He's getting 12lb, which is a lot of weight but, nevertheless, he's got to show his stuff."

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