Godolphin’s Adayar is bidding to become the first English Derby winner in 20 years to lift the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
The Charlie Appleby-trained Frankel colt tackles five strong rivals led by the multiple Group 1 winning filly Love, Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic and Saudi Cup winner Mishrif, Group 1 winners Wonderful Tonight and Broome, plus the Irish Derby runner up Lone Eagle.
Appleby, who has won five of the 10 Group 1 prizes this year so far for the royal blues, declared he “couldn’t be happier” after watching his colt under the stable jockey William Buick at Moulton Paddocks.
“It was a straightforward final piece of work, and he will go there on Saturday with no excuses,” Appleby told godolphin.com.
Appleby knows the tough challenge Adayar faces as he bids to become just the third three-year-old colt in two decades to win the one and-a-half mile contest.
Since Galileo was successful in 2001, three Derby winners have subsequently tried and failed in the King George, with Kris Kin (2003) finishing third, Workforce (2010) fifth and Anthony Van Dyck (2019) 10th.
Adayar comes to the King George off the back of an impressive win in last month’s Derby at Epsom, in which he outstayed his rivals for an impressive four-and-a-half length victory.
“It was a very special moment,” Appleby said of that triumph. “Another homebred winning the Derby is a terrific achievement for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed [bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai], and his teams at Godolphin and Darley.
“It’s true that before Epsom, I thought he was shaping more as a Group 1 St Leger type. He’s so straightforward at home, he never stood out in his work. But, having said that, we always felt he was very good.
“On Derby Day, he showed us a turn-of-foot we hadn’t seen before, and he has sharpened up a lot for that experience,” the trainer added.
Adayar has made rapid progress in the past three months. His Derby triumph came after he finished second in one of the strongest Derby trials of recent times when runner-up to Alenquer in the Sandown Classic Trial in April.
The winner went on to win at Royal Ascot, while the third, Godolphin’s Yibir, won the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket, and the fourth in that race Lone Eagle, won a trial at Goodwood before his second in the Irish Derby.
Appleby is looking forward to the King George, which he says will define the second half of Adayar’s season.
“Like everybody else, we’ve got a huge watching brief on this,” he added. “Everybody’s wanting to know how good the three-year-olds are, particularly at a mile and a half.
“We would like to see what we are dealing with, and I think the King George will provide the answers.
“Adayar is approaching his biggest challenge in tip-top condition and we are upbeat about the accepting the challenge. His prep has been faultless. We have seen him maturing week on week.
“I believe he is physically stronger than he was at Epsom. When you see him in the paddock on Saturday, he won’t look like a three-year-old against older horses. He looks like an older horse now.”