King George preview: Frankie Dettori hoping to satisfy appetite with Enable

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Fri 28 Jul 2017

By Andy Stephens at Ascot

Frankie Dettori remains confident he will not have to put up any overweight on Enable in the £1.15 million King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Enable gets age and sex allowances in the summer showpiece and, as a consequence, Dettori will have to get down to his lightest possible weight these days of 8st 7lb, which also includes his saddle and other equipment.

After finishing sixth on Nathra in the feature race at a drizzly and dank Ascot on Friday, the 46-year-old revealed he would again be on meagre portions in the evening as he prepares to try and win one of the sport’s greatest races for a fifth time.

"This whole week has been grim,” he said.

2017 Investec Epsom Derby Festival - Investec Ladies Day - Epsom Racecourse Enable bids to add the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes to her wins in the Oaks and Irish equivalent on Saturday.

“All I have had today is a grapefruit and a kiwi, plus water. This evening I will have a bit of white fish and more water.”

Dettori reported that the ground was riding good to soft and the winning times reflected it was certainly nothing quicker than that. In addition, more rain is forecast overnight and tomorrow afternoon.

Enable, the 5-4 favourite, has run exclusively on good or quicker but Dettori is optimistic she will cope. “She’s bred to handle it,” he said.

Underfoot conditions will not be ideal for the Aidan O’Brien-trained Highland Reel, who is seeking to become only the third back-to-back winner of the race.

However, Kevin Buckley, Coolmore’s UK representative, was also at Ascot and said the intention was still to run the five-year-old, who has won his connections almost £6 million in prize money. He spoke at length with Ryan Moore about the ground early in the afternoon.

Asked if there would be a tipping point, he said: “I don’t think there will be one - we plan to run the two of them (Highland Reel and Idaho). There’s quite a bit of rain forecast between 11pm and 2am in the morning, but I don’t think that will change things dramatically.

Highland Reel - POW - Royal Ascot - RF Highland Reel was supplanted as favourite by Enable this week.

“Unless there was an actual deluge, which isn’t forecast, I don’t think it is going to change anything.”

Highland Reel’s six Group One victories have been achieved on good or faster and Buckley acknowledges the tenacious globetrotter will not have things in his favour.

“Clearly his best performances have been on good or better and he’s not as effective on softer, but we’ve never shied away from anything,” he said.

O’Brien had said earlier in the day: "Both horses are well, but the ground is the thing. Idaho has form with ease in the ground, and Highland Reel has a little bit, too. We would be happy with good to soft and hopefully it won't get any worse than that.”

At a media function stated by QIPCO and Ascot on Tuesday, he said: "Highland Reel is an incredible horse. He's tactically very quick, he's very like his dad (Galileo). He stays well, but is also very quick out of the gates, very good to get a position and he would absolutely die for you. It's incredible, he's so genuine.

"He handles fast ground, mile and a quarter to a mile and a half. On the big day in the big races, you see he gets his blood up when he needs to."

Ulysses, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, is seeking to win both the Coral-Eclipse and the King George in the same season. It was last achieved by Opera House in 1993, one of five winners of this race for Stoute.

"We are very happy with him. As far as the trip is concerned he has won a Gordon Stakes and run a very solid race at Santa Anita in the Breeders' Cup Turf," said the Newmarket handler.

"He is more settled this year and relaxes better. That is to his advantage. We go there hopeful and hoping there is not too much rain. His preparation has gone well. I hope the ground will not be too testing."

In the Coral-Eclipse, Desert Encounter belied his odds of 50-1 to finish third behind Ulysses. His trainer David Simcock believes there is more to come from the five-year-old.

"He ran very respectably in the Eclipse and the plan was always to go to the King George afterwards," he said. He's an improving horse who handles any ground and stays a mile and a half well."

Enable's trainer John Gosden also saddles Jack Hobbs, who showed what a good horse he is with ease in the ground when lifting the Dubai Sheema Classic in March.

Gosden said: "He was very fortunate he got that ground in Dubai. He was not that fortunate at Royal Ascot. He is back to probably his best distance and with give in the ground it should play to his strengths."

Jack Hobbs carries the Godolphin colours, as does Benbatl, who along with Enable represents the Classic generation.

Benbatl landed a deserved success in the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot after good efforts in the Dante and the Derby.

"Benbatl won well at Royal Ascot and is improving with time," trainer Saeed bin Suroor told "His latest piece of work on Monday went nicely and good to soft ground will be fine for him."

Clive Cox has been happy to see rain for My Dream Boat, who is a tip-top performer on soft ground as he showed when beating Found in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2016.

"He's not as effective when it's too firm and the recent rainfall has been very welcome. It looks like he will get his favoured conditions," said the Lambourn trainer.

"He ran a pleasing race in France last time and, while he is quite laid-back at home, he's been giving us impression he's at the top of his game."

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