Global Weekly Preview: Hobbs on a good wicket in classy King George
Jack Hobbs gets his preferred conditions as he prepares for an encounter with star three-year-old filly Enable in a fascinating renewal of Ascot's G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes.
Godolphin's G1 Irish Derby winner of 2015 loves the ground to be on the soft side, and he also relishes the mile-and-a-half trip. He has both served up to him in a mid-summer clash with the Classic generation that promises to be a highlight of the season.
There was no disguising the delight of William Buick and John Gosden when Jack Hobbs returned to his brilliant best in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March.
Although inclined to race a little keen in the middle stages of that race, the five-year-old finished it off well and looked perfectly poised for a successful season in Britain.
That he was subsequently disappointing in the G1 Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot could be attributed as much to the quick ground as the uncomfortable humidity. But also, the mile-and-a quarter trip may be a tad on the short side for him these days.
Both jockey and trainer believe Jack Hobbs can run a big race in this strong-looking King George.
Gosden, of course, also saddles Enable (for Juddmonte) and knows well the advantage a fast-improving three-year-old filly has under the weight-for-age scale at this time of the year. He saddled Oaks winner Taghrooda to win the King George in 2014.
For racing historians, the participation of the brothers Highland Reel and Idaho, from Ballydoyle, provides an interesting sidelight.
Highland Reel has continued to be a formidable rival in all G1 middle-distance races he contests. His grit and determination in a finish have served him well, but even he will find this a tough test.
Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor has chosen this King George as the launching pad for the second half of Benbatl's three-year-old campaign.
Saeed's belief in the colt is well-documented, and he could be the surprise packet. Benbatl looked very promising when winning the G3 Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot.
His second in the G2 Dante Stakes at York and fifth in the G1 Investec Derby at Epsom were also both excellent runs, giving a hint of his overall potential.