Jack Hobbs leads King George assault

Jim McGrath
J A McGrath

This year’s G1 Dubai Sheema Classic winner Jack Hobbs heads a three-strong Godolphin team for the G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, UK, on Saturday, July 29. 

Jack Hobbs (John Gosden/William Buick) is joined in Britain’s mid-summer 12-furlong championship race by progressive three-year-old colt Benbatl (Saeed bin Suroor/Oisin Murphy) and likely pacemaker Maverick Wave (John Gosden/Robert Tart).

The five-year-old Halling horse stormed to a decisive victory over the same distance in the Dubai Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan, UAE, on March 25, when he quickened well to score by two and a quarter lengths on yielding turf. 

Jack Hobbs failed to run his race on fast ground in the 10-furlong G1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 21, finishing last of eight behind Highland Reel.   

John Gosden commented: “Jack Hobbs was fortunate to get his ground in Dubai, but he wasn't so lucky at Royal Ascot.

“We always wanted to run Jack Hobbs in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at the Royal meeting but it turned out to be the hottest June day for 40 years and lightning fast ground, which was entirely the wrong thing for him.

“He has no problem with a mile and a quarter – he has twice run brilliantly on autumn ground over that trip at Ascot in the Champion Stakes – but a mile and a half with some cut in the ground is certainly right up his street.”

Benbatl also ran over a mile and a quarter at Royal Ascot, with the son of Dubawi staying on strongly for a half-length success in the G3 Hampton Court Stakes on June 22. 

A seven-length debut winner on good going at Doncaster on April 2, Benbatl was runner-up to Permian in the extended 10-furlong G2 Dante Stakes at York on May 18 and finished well on his only previous appearance over a mile and a half when fifth in the G1 Derby at Epsom on June 3. 

Saeed bin Suroor reported: “Benbatl won well at Royal Ascot and is improving with time. 

“His latest piece of work on Monday went nicely and good to soft ground will be fine for him.

“He is coming up against some of the best horses, but we have been happy with his preparation and I am looking forward to seeing how he gets on.

A field of 10 for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes features this year’s impressive English and Irish Oaks winner Enable, last year’s winner Highland Reel and Ulysses, who beat Godolphin’s Barney Roy by a nose in the G1 Eclipse Stakes. 

Also at Ascot on Saturday, Charlie Appleby and William Buick team up with a couple of two-year-olds who step up in class after winning maidens at Newmarket’s July Meeting. 

Spring Cosmos, a daughter of Acclamation, lines up in the six-furlong G3 Princess Margaret Stakes (seven runners) following a comfortable victory over the same trip on her debut on July 13. 

Dubawi colt Being There, who goes in the seven-runner Listed Pat Eddery Stakes over seven furlongs,  gained a game head verdict over the same distance on July 14, having been beaten a neck in a Newbury extended six-furlong novice race on his June 15 debut. 

Charlie Appleby said: “It was a very pleasing debut win from Spring Cosmos and she came out of that race very well. 

“We wouldn’t want to see the ground get too soft for her but, if the going remains good to soft, we feel that she should be very competitive. 

“Being There progressed from his first to second run and looks to have come forward again. 

“He is a horse who will appreciate ground conditions and any further rain wouldn’t be a concern."