The late inclusion of Royal Ascot winner Hillstar into the Group 1 £1m The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (1 mile 4 furlongs) at Ascot on Saturday has started an important jockey reshuffle.
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute and owner Sir Evelyn de Rothschild agreed to pay £75,000 to supplement Hillstar for Saturday’s race, giving the legendary Englishman a chance to become the most successful trainer of Britain’s premier all-aged flat race.
“It’s worth having a crack,” Stout said.
But in doing so jockey Ryan Moore will be required to ride Hillstar, who he rode to victory in the Group 2 £175,000 King Edward VII Stakes (1 mile 4 furlongs) at Royal Ascot on June 21, and will have to relinquish the ride on Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner Novellist.
German-based trainer Andreas Wohler then suggested that William Buick would be his preferred replacement for Moore, but the English rider might be required to ride at York on the same day for trainer John Gosden, giving Johnny Murtagh a chance to partner the German trained colt.
“The plan is for William Buick to ride, but we don’t know for sure if he will be available. There is a chance he may have to go to York to ride for John Gosden. He wants to look at the entries and then decide,” Wohler said.
“William is the first choice, as he has ridden Novellist before, at Baden-Baden last year. If he is unable to ride, then Johnny Murtagh will ride. The horse is very well – he couldn’t be better.”
Stoute has won the The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes on five occasions, his first with the mighty Shergar in 1981, and equals the feats of Saeed Bin Suroor and Dick Hern.
Aidan O’Brien’s St Nicholas Abbey heads the betting at 7-4 with the French trained Cirrus Des Aigles the next in the market order at 5-2.
Novellist is a 5-1 chance just in front of the Irish galloper Trading Leather at 6-1 while Hillstar and Ektihaam share the next line of betting at 10-1.