By Jon Lees
GB: Adayar is looking “a million dollars” ahead of his bid to become the first Derby winner since Galileo 20 years ago to capture the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
Looking ahead to the big race, trainer Charlie Appleby said being able to saddle a Derby winner in Britain’s midsummer showpiece represented a huge occasion for Godolphin and winning it would be “one lovely feather to have in the cap”.
“It hasn’t been done since Galileo, the father of Frankel [Adayar’s sire],” he said. “For Adayar to turn up there is a huge occasion, it’s a challenge.
“The Eclipse has been and passed where St Mark’s Basilica was a very impressive winner. We’ve seen that division starting to sort itself out and now we are stepping up into the big-boy division at a mile and a half.
“It’s going to be a fascinating race for team Godolphin because we are looking forward to seeing what Adayar does and where we place these two Classic horses, Adayar and Hurricane Lane, in the second half of the season.”
Adayar will become only the fifth Derby winner to contest the King George this century. He is part of a field of six that also includes the four-year-old filly Love, Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle, Saudi Cup winner Mishriff, plus Wonderful Tonight and Broome.
Appleby said: “I am delighted with the way his preparation has gone. He looks a million dollars. If you want to dig deep into formlines, Love is the deserved favourite, Adayar is second favourite and receives the weight allowances and I think the market is probably about right.”
Adayar went into the Derby the outsider of three Godolphin runners but belied that status to score by four and a half lengths from Mojo Star and stablemate Hurricane Lane, who has since won the Irish Derby and Grand Prix de Paris.
Appleby said the colt was not working any differently but had developed physically since Epsom.
“He does his routine and works no different now to what he was working prior to the Derby, but what you can see is his alertness, his professionalism and the way he has developed. I’d be confident that if nobody knew what any of the horses were on Saturday you wouldn’t pick him out as the three-year-old among the older horses.”
Revisiting the Derby he added: “Adam’s instructions were to get him out and get him up in the van. It was a copybook ride. He got the big horse out of the gates. He used a bit of petrol to get there but once he got halfway up the hill all of a sudden that stride kicked in and he was very happy from thereon.
“What surprised us to this day was the acceleration that we had never seen before. He got the perfect run round there but he had to have the gears to pick up.
“Post-race, William and I have analysed it and if you stop the film, Hurricane Lane probably wouldn’t have been able to quicken like Adayar did. You can take what you like out of that.
“It looks as though it was a good Derby. He won by four and a half lengths, the third horse came out and won a Classic and the Grand Prix de Paris emphatically so I am going to be behind the pundits.
“It’s great for his highness Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin, they put so much into the sport. What every owner-breeder wants to have is the Classic winners competing in these great historic races like the King George.
“It’s our first runner in the King George – but he’s not just a runner, he’s a Derby winner so that puts more excitement into the mix. It would be one lovely feather to have in the cap if he could win.”
King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes betting (Coral): 5-4 Love, 9-4 Adayar, 11-2 Lone Eagle, 9 Mishriff, 14 Wonderful Tonight, 20 Broome
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