With a final thrust towards the winning post, Danedream eroded the memory of her under-par performance in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud with a scintillating effort in chasing down the ultra-game Nathaniel in the 62nd running of the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes. With all his heart, Nathaniel led his rivals towards the final furlong of the race looking to have created history in being the first horse since Godolphin's Swain in 1998 to win the race on in consecutive years. However, whilst his heart and determination could hold off the continual thrust of Farhh just fourteen days prior in the Coral-Eclipse, he was unable to hold off Germany's flagbearer, Danedream, in an exciting finish to Europe's premier mid-season race.
Photo: Emma-Louise Kerwin/Goodtosoft.co.uk
Heading towards the shadows of the winning post, Nathaniel was joined by the daughter of Lomitas on his outside and began to dig to the very bottom of his reserves. Momentarily, Nathaniel looked like he would hold off the thrusting German mare by the narrowest of margins, but after a small delay in analysing a tight photo finish print, Germany was declared victorious and Danedream announced as back to her very best. In winning today, Danedream became the first filly ever to win the Arc and
the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes combination. "She wins her races with her heart and her head. At Saint-Cloud last time she didn't have a great start and struggled with the lack of pace. She didn't like the way of racing there" said Schiergen reflecting on the mare's second underpar performance at Saint-Cloud in as many years. "This was a very important win for Germany. There are a lot of good horses there. We will go for a small Group 1 in Baden-Baden (The Grosser Preis von Baden on September 2nd) and then the Arc". Schiergen also reflected that he would expect Danedream to return to run in the Japan Cup again having earned an automatic berth into the race from winning the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Andrasch Starke was visibly elated making his way towards the winners enclosure with continually vocal celebrations. For Starke, it was a case of believing in his horses ability and never beginning to doubt; "She is unbelievable. Never forget the best performance from a horse and she had won an Arc. We were excited today to come to a race like this. I don't know what happened with her last time but everything is in good shape today. She fought today and it's definitely the biggest moment of her life.".
For Nathaniel, it was a case of so close yet so far; Despite his sheer determination and heart being visibly evident yet again he was unable to hold off the late thrust of Danedream in the shadows of the winning post. John Gosden's charge pushed into the lead with two furlongs to go and looked to put the race to bed but Gosden was thrilled with the effort from the son of Galileo. "Our horse has run his race quite brilliantly and look at the horses behind him. I am beyond thrilled with him and I can't believe that, in two weeks, he can come back and put two races like that back to back. It's impressive.".
English and Irish bookmakers Ladbrokes and Boylesports were quick to react after the race with Danedream installed as the new 6/1 second favourite for the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe in October. Nathaniel holds at 7/1 with St Nicholas Abbey drifting markedly to 10/1. Anchored out the back of the pack for the majority of the race, St Nicholas Abbey failed to make a ready impression on the pack turning into the straight and was seemingly caught flat footed alongside the Juddmonte Farms-owned Sea Moon. However, heading into the final furlong the turn of foot familiar with the son of Montjeu began to kick in and he snatched third-place from under the nose of Alain de Royer-Dupre's Reliable Man - who himself, arguably, put up a career best performance in this race. Despite his strong performances left-handed, St Nicholas Abbey has failed to win a race going right-handed since the 2009 Beresford Stakes and looks to improve again on this effort when reverted back to running left-handed. The Breeders Cup Turf at Santa Anita looks tailor made for the son of Montjeu who looks primed to defend his crown in the Cup. In today's race, Joseph O'Brien incurred a seven day riding ban and a fine of £900 for excessive use of the whip. Andrasch Starke also incurred a penalty of six days with William Buick incurring a ban of two days.
Speaking with Aidan O' Brien after the race, Horse Racing Nation also confirmed Treasure Beach's well-being following on from last week's under-par performance in the Man O War Stakes at Belmont Park. The Arlington Million still remains on the radar. O'Brien also aired concerns on the chances of his Epsom Oaks victor, Was, in tomorrow's running of the Irish Oaks citing that there were concerns over the ground for his filly.
Sea Moon was notably disappointing in this year's renewal of the race. Going off as the 2/1 favourite, Sea Moon seemed to struggle with new tactics today having been towards the front of the pack in his two races this year and struggled to pick up. On a disappointing day for Sir Michael Stoute - who also failed to land the Group 2 Summer Mile with The Queen's Carlton House - Sea Moon was not seen at his best and there should be more to come from the son of Beat Hollow. "He just didn't quite fire as we hoped he might and didn't travel throughout the race. We will have to have a think about what to do next with him".
Photos Courtesy of Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)