This week’s UK and Irish horse racing action includes the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, the first big clash between the classic generation and the older horses over a mile and a half. However, there’s also group race action in the form of the Silver Flash Stakes and the Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown on Thursday, as well as Listed Races at both York and Ascot on Friday. York also stages the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes on Saturday.
Leopardstown Thursday 26 July
Jockey Club Of Turkey Silver Flash Stakes (18.35)
The Silver Flash Stakes was first run at Leopardstown in 1991 and was elevated to its current Group 3 status in 2008. It is run over 7 furlongs and is open to two-year-old fillies. It has been won by some notable fillies that went on to become top-class three-year-olds, including the likes of Kooyonga, Las Meninas, Eva Luna, Together, Maybe, and Happily. Aidan O’Brien has enjoyed great success in the race as he has saddled 10 of the last 21 winners of the race, including the last two. O’Brien has six possible entries for this year’s contest, with Secret Thoughts, Peach Tree, and Goddess all having won last time out. It will be interesting to see whether Ryan Moore rides any of them as he has been aboard the last two winners.
Japan Racing Association Tyros Stakes (19.10)
The Tyros Stakes moved to Leopardstown in 2003, and since 2007 it has been a Group 3 race for two-year-olds run over 7 furlongs. Aidan O’Brien has dominated the race since its move, winning seven of the 11 editions to be run at Leopardstown, including the last four. The race has produced some brilliant winners, many of whom have gone on to win big races in their three-year-old seasons, including classics.
Past winners include New Approach, Rip Van Winkle, Zoffany, Gleneagles, Deauville, and O’Brien’s 2017 dual 2,000 Guineas winner Churchill. Ryan Moore has also ridden the last two winners. O’Brien has five possible entries this season in Anthony Van Dyck, Cape Of Good Hope, Christmas, Mohawk, and Mount Tabora. Meanwhile, other previous trainers that have won the race that may be represented include Jessica Harrington, Jim Bolger, and Ger Lyons.
Ascot Friday 27 July
Markerstudy British EBF Valiant Stakes (15.35)
The Valiant Stakes was first run in 1998 and was elevated to a Listed Race in 2009. It is open to fillies and mares aged three or older and is run over 7 furlongs and 213 yards. It has produced some popular winners including Kismah, Wasseema, Strawberrydaiquiri, Thistle Bird, Euro Charline, and On Her Toes. Sir Michael Stoute is the race’s most successful trainer with four winners, whilst William Haggas has trained three winners.
Since it became a Listed Race, it has been won by six three-year-olds and three four-year-olds. The top-rated entry this year is Anna Nerium, who is rated one pound higher than Tribute Act. The pair are rated at least 6lb higher than any of their other rivals, though there are some interesting improving types such as Royal Ascot winner Agrotera and the William Haggas trained Beshaayir.
York Friday 27 July
British Stallion Studs EBF Lyric Fillies’ Stakes (19.30)
The Lyric Stakes was first run in 2008 and continues to be a Listed Race for fillies and mares aged three and older. It is run over a trip of 10 furlongs and 56 yards. Notable previous winners include High Heeled, Barefoot Lady, Tasaday, and last year’s winner Entsar. Four fillies rated 100+ standout this year, and they are Pleasant Surprise, Rasima, Desert Diamond, and Mrs Sippy. Jamie Spencer looks a notable early booking for the top-rated Pleasant Surprise, whilst Desert Diamond represents Sir Michael Stoute, who won the race in 2010 and 2016.
York Saturday 28 July
Sky Bet York Stakes (15.15)
The Sky Bet York Stakes is a Group 2 Race that is open to horses aged three and older and is run over 10 furlongs and 56 yards. It was first run in 2006 and has been won by the likes of Pipedreamer, Kirklees, Twice Over, Sri Putra, Mukhadram, Time Test, and Success Days. The race is considered an ideal prep race for horses being targeted at the International Stakes, which is run at York’s Ebor Meeting in August.
However, only Twice Over has completed the double. No three-year-old has won any of the 11 renewals so far.
Despite the lack of success for three-year-olds in the race, this year’s sole three-year-old entry Elarqam has been installed as the early favourite by the bookies. It’s easy to why, as he was fourth in the 2,000 Guineas in May, splitting subsequent Group 1 winners Masar and Roaring Lion, though he has subsequently disappointed in the Irish 2,000 Guineas. However, his trainer Mark Johnston thinks the step-up in trip will suit the son of Frankel and Attraction. If back to his best, Elarqam should be too good for the likes of Smart Call, Forest Ranger, and last year’s winner Success Days.
Ascot Saturday 28 July
King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes (3.40)
The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes may have only been first run in 1951, but it quickly established itself as one of England’s premier races to win. It is a Group 1 race that takes place over 12 furlongs and it is traditionally fought out between the best of the classic generation and the best of the older horses.
However, as the three-year-olds have often hard harder seasons up to this point, it is no surprise that four-year-olds have won 11 of the last 14 renewals. Interestingly, the last two three-year-olds to win were both fillies trained by John Gosden that had won the Oaks earlier that season. Indeed, the last three winning three-year-olds were all trained by John Gosden, as he also won the race with Nathaniel in 2011.
Gosden doesn’t have any three-year-olds entered this season, but he could run two high-class four-year-olds in Cracksman and Coronet. Five-time winning trainer Sir Michael Stoute also holds two aces though in Crystal Ocean and Poet’s Word, and the bookies make the former their market leader after he made it three wins from three runs this season in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes over course and distance last time.
Meanwhile, Poet’s Word won the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes last time, but would become the first five-year-old to win the race since the mighty Daylami in 1999. Aidan O’Brien also has several entries he can call upon as he looks to join the list of most winning trainers by saddling his fifth winner of the race.
Whoever wins, they will join a role of honour that will take any horse racing enthusiasts on a remarkable trip down nostalgia lane, one full of classic winners and group 1 winners. This role of honour includes Ribot, Nijinsky, Mill Reef, Brigadier Gerard, Dahlia, The Minstrel, Troy, Shergar, Teenoso, Dancing Brave, Reference Point, Mtoto, Nashwan, Generous, King’s Theatre, Lammtarra, Pentire, Swain, Montjeu, Galileo, Hurricane Run, Dylan Thomas, Taghrooda, Postponed, Highland Reel, and Enable.