Duke to face seven King George rivals

 

Racing: Duke Of Marmalade will face seven rivals as he bids to provide Aidan O'Brien with his 14th Group One victory of the season in Saturday's King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

The Ballydoyle supremo is enjoying a superlative campaign and even has the luxury of Hardwicke Stakes winner Macarthur as his second string. Red Rock Canyon will also represent Coolmore and is expected to take up pace-making duties.

Youmzain, runner-up to O'Brien's Dylan Thomas in both this race and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe last season, arrives on a high having landed the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud last time. Mick Channon's consistent five-year-old will be running in his 11th consecutive Group One race.

With a big win in France under his belt, connections of Youmzain feel confident ahead of this assignment.

"Youmzain goes into the King George with very solid claims," Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Jaber Abdullah, told www.rabbahbloodstock.com.

"He underlined that he is top class with that victory in France and we don't need to overly concern ourselves with the opposition. All we hope for is a truly-run race where there is a proper gallop - and also that he enjoys a smooth passage, which he should do in what is set to be a small field.

"It has been well documented that he likes to come from off a fast pace and as long as the race is a fair-and-square test, then he should be playing a key role at the finish. He was second in the King George last year - it would be lovely for his owner and trainer if he can go one better this time around."

Michael Stoute has two strong candidates in Papal Bull and Ask as he aims for a first King George win since Golan's triumph in 2002.

Last year's St Leger winner Lucarno will represent John Gosden and arrives in top form having won the Princess Of Wales's Stakes on his most recent outing. Terry Mills' Petara Bay, third behind Lucarno and Papal Bull last time out, completes the field.