Racing: Elsworth's Geezer sent into the ring again
Both horses are owned by Jeff Smith. Both are available at 66-1. Both, it seems, require a miracle. Yet if there is one trainer who can supervise a wonder then it is Elsworth.
The Whitsbury trainer has always been fiercely protective of Norse Dancer, a five-old-old who occasionally runs very well at the highest level and also wins races, but not both at the same time.
Norse Dancer has been placed nine times in Group One company and heads into the King George after finishing sixth behind Azamour in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at the Royal meeting. "This will be his first try at a mile and a half since he ran in the Derby two years ago," Elsworth said yesterday. "He is very versatile and has always run well whatever the trip.
"He was third in the Guineas, beaten a length, has been second in two Group Ones over a mile and a quarter, and was fourth in the Derby over a mile and a half, beaten a couple of lengths, so he seems to be effective at variable distances."
Despite being well behind Azamour last month, Norse Dancer had finished close to that rival and also Grey Swallow, Bago and Ace in the Tatteralls Gold Cup earlier in the season. And the five-year-old, who will again be ridden by John Egan, only just lost out in a thrilling battle with Azamour in last year's Irish Champion Stakes. "I'm not offended by his price - if you make it 100-1 I might have a few quid on myself," Elsworth added.
The trainer's other representative in the midsummer highlight was last seen scoring at Haydock, having previously been an unlucky-in-running third at the Royal meeting to Plea Bargain and Brahminy Kite.
"I am always pleased to see them win, but he is a horse who could do with a drop of rain," Elsworth said. "He's had a few races on ground faster than would be ideal for him. We would like some good ground for him, or even ground a little bit softer than good.
Richard Quinn will again be aboard the Derby eighth with Elsworth considering a crack at another Classic with the colt later in the season. "I'll look to the Voltigeur and the St Leger with him after this, although I might look to the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood as an alternative to York," he said.
Saeed bin Suroor intends to saddle Doyen, a King George crackerjack 12 months ago but a colt who has plummeted ever since. Last season he subsequently failed in the Irish Champion Stakes and then the British equivalent. This year Doyen failed in the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal meeting, a race he had captured so thrillingly the season before. They said he lost his action that day. He seems to have lost everything.
Bin Suroor has more realistic hopes with Dubawi, who is on course for an attractive clash with Divine Proportions in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville next month.
"The horse ran three races in almost a month, including winning in Ireland and finishing third in the Derby, so we thought this was the time to give him a break," the trainer said. "Dubawi has shown since last year he is a star and he always gives everything in the morning and in his races.
"The horse is in good form - he is working very well and is fit and healthy. He is going to work this Saturday, but the plan is to run him in France and he will be ready for that race."
KING GEORGE VI & QUEEN ELIZABETH STAKES (Newbury, Saturday) William Hill: 2-1 Azamour, 7-2 Grey Swallow, 5-1 Eswarah, 6-1 Bago, 10-1 Ace, Gamut, Phoenix Reach, 14-1 Yeats, 20-1 Doyen, Policy Maker, 25-1 Mubtaker, 50-1 Fight Your Corner, Norse Dancer, The Geezer, Warrsan, 66-1 Razkalla.
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