Pacemakers pose questions for King George

Tactics will surely be the key to Saturday's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. In one corner is the favourite, Duke Of Marmalade, tackling a mile and a half for the first time, with his camp facing his trip into unknown territory in hope rather than supreme confidence. In the other is market rival Youmzain, for whom the distance is a minimum and whose connections have made clear their requirement is an end-to-end gallop.

Likely to be accompanying Duke Of Marmalade from Ballydoyle are his stablemates Macarthur, a second string most would be delighted to have as a first, and Red Rock Canyon, who did duty as hare earlier this season for his team's No1 in both the Tattersalls Gold Cup and Prince of Wales's Stakes.

But with Duke Of Marmalade's ability to see out a strongly run 12 furlongs unproven, it remains to be seen whether Red Rock Canyon trail blazes or merely smoulders. "A strong gallop usually suits everyone and makes sure the best horse wins," said Pat Eddery, winner of two editions of the King George in his days as a jockey. "But it wouldn't be a surprise if Aidan tried to control the race by slowing it down if he could, either with the pacemaker or – possibly – you could see a scenario where the favourite made all."

Eddery's victories came in two of the most memorable runnings of the midsummer showpiece, on Grundy and Dancing Brave and on both occasions, he won despite the deployment of pacemakers on behalf of a Dick Hern-trained rival. In 1975, Highest, then Kinglet acted for the runner-up Bustino in what became a legitimate contender for race of the century and 11 years later Boldden and Vouchsafe made the pace for sixth-placed Petoski.

"The first time the aim was to make it a proper test for the Derby winner [Grundy]," he recalled, "and it so nearly came off. It didn't suit me at all; I had to go after Joe [Mercer] on Bustino much sooner than I wanted, and although my horse did it in the end, it broke him.

"On Dancing Brave it didn't make the slightest difference. He was exceptional and with the turn of foot he had, he would have won off a slow pace, a fast pace, anything."

The last horse to win the King George over Ascot's stiff mile and a half on his first try at the distance was Brigadier Gerard 36 years ago (when Azamour did it in 2005, the race was run at less demanding Newbury) and O'Brien admitted yesterday he was in the dark about whether or not his four-year-old charge could follow suit.

"Physically, pedigree-wise and with his mental attitude he is very good," he said of the son of Danehill. "He is a top horse who is very professional and we are very happy with him. But we don't really know what will happen when he enters the final two furlongs. It will be interesting to see."

Youmzain, last year's runner-up, has dipped below 12 furlongs only once in the past two years, when he was third in the Tattersalls Gold Cup last year over the extended 10 at the Curragh. After two more second places, in the Arc and Coronation Cup, he came good at the highest level again –he had already won the 2006 Preis Von Europa – in last month's Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.

"That race was truly run and he sat closer than he usually does but you could see he was going to win a long way out," said Mick Channon, "but it's up to him to do the talking on Saturday." Fair enough, though the five-year-old might be disappointed with his trainer's words on his prospects. "I think he's got as good a chance as he had when second to Dylan Thomas last year," he added.

Lack of stamina is unlikely to be an issue for last year's St Leger hero, Lucarno, but though the John Gosden-trained colt made all in the Princess of Wales's Stakes at Newmarket last month, a front-running repeat is not guaranteed on Saturday. "He doesn't have to dominate," said his rider, Jimmy Fortune. "We held him up in the Great Voltigeur and in the Leger."

Bustino came close, but the last St Leger winner to take the King George the following year remains Alcide in 1959. Lucarno is third favourite, a realistic market position, according to his jockey. "I'm hopeful of a place. Anything else is a bonus," he said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas