The 2017 Japan Cup victor Cheval Grand will arrive in the UK later this month ahead of racing against some of Europe’s leading lights in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes at Ascot on Saturday, July 27th.
A plethora of stars feature among the 38 entries for the 12-furlong highlight, details of which are revealed today, headed by dual Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine and 2017 winner Enable (John Gosden), plus the two most recent winners of the Investec Derby in 2018 victor Masar (Charlie Appleby) and 2019 winner Anthony Van Dyck (Aidan O’Brien IRE).
Cheval Grand has finished third in the two latest editions of the Arima Kinen, one of Japan’s premier middle-distance contests staged at Nakayama just before Christmas.
The seven-year-old had his first start outside of Japan when putting up an excellent performance to come home second to Old Persian in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan.
Four Japanese-trained horses have contested the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes, with Cheval Grand’s sire Heart’s Cry faring best when a close third behind Hurricane Run in 2006. The others were Sirius Symboli (1985, 8th), Air Shakur (2000, 5th) and Deep Brillante (2012, 8th).
Yasuo Tomomichi, trainer of Cheval Grand, said: “It is a great honour for me to send a runner for such a prestigious race at Ascot and I am very excited.
“Cheval Grand’s sire Heart’s Cry ran very bravely in King George in 2006, finishing third behind Hurricane Run and Electrocutionist.
“In fact, I recently had a call from Kojiro Hashiguchi, the trainer of Heart’s Cry who stopped training two years ago, and he has given me some useful advice.
“I would like to win the King George for Japan.”
Hurricane Run’s trainer Andre Fabre is likely to be represented by Waldgeist. Now a five-year-old, Waldgeist looked as good as ever on his latest start when swooping to victory in the Prix Ganay at Longchamp, France, on April 28.
Enable, an impressive winner of this race in 2017, and Sea Of Class (William Haggas) could renew rivalries, having being separated by a short-neck in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October. Sea Of Class is set to make her 2019 reappearance at Royal Ascot next week in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.
Ireland’s 21-time champion Flat trainer, Aidan O’Brien, has 18 entries in total. As well as Investec Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck, O’Brien’s team features impressive Tattersalls Gold Cup scorer Magical and Investec Oaks second Pink Dogwood, plus Japan and Broome who were third and fourth respectively in the Investec Derby. There are 19 Irish-trained entries in total, with O’Brien’s son Joseph having engaged 2018 Irish Derby victor Latrobe.
O’Brien has sent out four winners of King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes, most recently Highland Reel in 2016.
Sir Michael Stoute is the most successful trainer in King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes history with six wins, after Poet’s Word led home a one-two for the stable in 2018.
Newmarket-based Stoute has two entries this year, made up of 2018 neck runner-up Crystal Ocean, unbeaten on his two starts so far in 2019, and Mirage Dancer.
In addition to 2018 Derby winner Masar, the famous blue silks of Godolphin could also be represented by 2018 Melbourne Cup hero Cross Counter and Prix Ganay third Ghaiyyath. Both horses areboth trained by Charlie Appleby.
Other high-profile entries include Defoe (Roger Varian), who got the better of Kew Gardens (Aidan O’Brien IRE) in the Coronation Cup at Epsom Downs.
The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes is part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
The is a scratchings stage at noon on Tuesday, July 9th, with the five-day confirmation and £80,000 supplementary entry stage on Monday, July 22nd.