The 2017 Group 1 Japan Cup victor Cheval Grand will race against some of Europe’s leading horses later this month in the £1.25-million Group 1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes at Ascot on 27th July.
A plethora of stars feature among the 38 entries for the 12-furlong highlight, headed by dual Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine Enable, plus the two most recent winners of the Group 1 Investec Derby in 2018 victor Masar from Charlie Appleby’s stable and Aidan O’Brien’s 2019 winner Anthony Van Dyck.
Cheval Grand has finished third in the two latest editions of the Group 1 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 Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan last March.
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).
French trainer Andre Fabre is likely to be represented by the five-year-old Waldgeist, who looked as good as ever on his latest start when swooping to victory in the Group 1 Prix Ganay at Longchamp in April.
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 Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup scorer Magical and Group 1 Investec Oaks runner-up Pink Dogwood, plus Japan and Broome, third and fourth respectively in the Investec Derby. There are 19 Irish-trained entries in total, with O’Brien’s son Joseph having entered 2018 Irish Derby victor Latrobe.
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 Group 3 scorer Mirage Dancer.
In addition to 2018 Derby winner Masar, the famous blue silks of Godolphin could also be represented by 2018 Group 1 Melbourne Cup hero Cross Counter and Prix Ganay third Ghaiyyath, both trained by Charlie Appleby.