FORTY years since that epic duel with Grundy and Bustino, Ascot racegoers were treated to another genuinely spectacular finish to the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Saturday.
Golden Horn’s dramatic late defection due to the prevailing soft going robbed the great race of its headline act, but Postponed capably filled that significant void as he edged out old sparring partner Eagle Top in a pulsating finish.
Unlike when the pair battled it out in the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal meeting last month, the chance of a hard-luck story this time was slim, with Romsdal setting a good gallop from the start.
To ensure there would be no repeat of their latest battle, Andrea Atzeni, replacing Adam Kirby aboard Postponed, positioned his mount just in behind the early leader.
Frankie Dettori, who had switched to Eagle Top in light of Golden Horn’s absence, was content to anchor his mount at the rear of the field.
There was little change in position until Postponed ranged up on Romsdal at the three-furlong pole to set his stall for home.
Racing to the furlong pole, it looked as though trainer John Gosden was in line to win the race for a second successive year as Eagle Top bridged the gap between the pair, before briefly going on. It was not to be, though, as Postponed demonstrated his battling qualities to get his head back in front at the right time and prevail by a nose.
Winning trainer Luca Cumani said: “I would have thought that the natural progression is the Arc, which is another big challenge taking on Treve, Jack Hobbs and Golden Horn, but he is a King George winner, so he won’t be going back to Catterick.”
While the Arc may be his next major target this season, winning owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum says Postponed will be kept in training next season.
Besharah was rewarded for her consistency when registering a Pattern-race success at the third attempt in the Princess Margaret Juddmonte Stakes, while Sixth Sense showed his appreciation for a step back up in trip with a game front-running success in the Titanic Belfast Winkfield Stakes.
Tullius set up a tilt at the Champion Stakes with a hard-fought victory in the Sky Bet York Stakes on the Knavesmire. Sam Hoskins, representing the winning owners, Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds, said: “His big aim is the Champion Stakes. I know he won’t win, but there’s so much money on offer.”
Tanzeel also looked the real deal in the Sky Bet Dash. Sporting the same Hamdan Al Maktoum silks as last season’s winner, Muthmir, the 11-2 favourite changed gear when it mattered to beat Shore Step by two lengths.
The main attraction on a fairly quiet day in Britain yesterday was the Listed Skybet Supporting The Yorkshire Racing Summer Festival Pomfret Stakes at Pontefract, in which David O’Meara’s Mondialiste (5-2) routed the opposition from the front.
Connections might now consider the Group Three Investec Pension Consultants Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown on 13 August.
There were mixed fortunes for British runners abroad yesterday.
The raiding party dominated the finish of the Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte, with Richard Hannon’s Gutaifan and Frankie Dettori striking gold ahead of the William Haggas-trained Ajaya and Kevin Ryan’s Areen in second and third. Ralph Beckett was out of luck in Germany, however, with hot favourite Air Pilot having to be withdrawn from the Group One Grosser Dallmayr-Preis-Bayerisches in Munich after becoming upset in the starting stalls and suffering an injury.