Saturday’s feature race at Ascot is the Group 1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and this year’s race looks like a top-class renewal as the high-quality filly Love takes on this year’s Epsom Derby winner, Adayar. In preparation for this weekend’s race, we’ve taken a look back at five of the best King George winners through the years.
5 best King George winners ever
1970 saw Nijinsky win the triple-crown of the 2000 Guineas, the Derby, and the St Ledger – and slotted in between those successes was victory in the King George at Ascot.
Sent off as the odds on favourite, Nijinsky and Lester Piggott destroyed a high-class field, coasting home by two-lengths from the 1969 Epsom Derby winner Blakeney. In later years, Piggott described Nijinsky’s victory that day as “probably the best performance of his career.”
Mill Reef (1971)
A year later and it was Mill Reef’s turn to put in a devastating performance in the King George, adding his own name to the winners list.
Having won the Epsom Derby and the Eclipse, Mill Reef was a strong favourite and he justified his short odds by romping home by six lengths from the Italian Derby winner, Ortis.
The next stop was Longchamp where he once more blew away a quality field, this time in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, beating the French filly Pistol Packer by three lengths.
Reference Point (1987)
A son of Mill Reef, Reference Point was one of the best winners of the King George in the 1980’s.
He arrived at Ascot having almost broken the track record at Epsom in winning the Derby, before falling to a shock defeat at the hands of Mtoto in the Eclipse at Sandown.
Normal service was resumed though at Ascot as Reference Point and Steve Cauthen saw off a top-quality field in the King George that included Unite – who had landed the Oaks double – and the Irish Derby winner Sir Harry Lewis.
The late, great Galileo was the last surviving winner of both the Epsom Derby and the King George following success in each race in 2001. In between those victories, he had also ticked off the Irish Derby and he arrived at Ascot to face the older horses for the first time.
The betting predicted a duel between Galileo and Godolphin’s Fantastic Light and that’s exactly what happened – the duo battled it out up the Ascot straight before Galileo and Mick Kinane pulled away in the final furlong to win.
2017 saw the high-class Enable win the King George for the first time, before going on to land the race in 2019 and 2020, securing her legacy as one of the greatest winners in the races’ history.
She arrived at Ascot in 2017 on the back of winning both the Epsom and Irish Oaks and was sent off the 5/4 favourite against a quality field that included Highland Reel, Idaho, and Ulysses. Frankie Dettori got down to his minimum riding weight of 119lbs to take the ride and his hard work paid off as Enable powered home to win by four and half lengths.
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