THOUSANDS of people are preparing to head west next week as the Galway Races takes centre stage, but before that there is a fascinating renewal of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Saturday.
The Ascot Group One showpiece pitches an extremely high-class field against each other, and includes last year’s Epsom Derby and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Workforce.
Only seven runners stood their ground at yesterday's final forfeit stage and among them was a new entry as the John Gosden-trained Royal Ascot winner Nathaniel was supplemented for the race.
Aidan O'Brien's hopes of securing the race lie with last month’s Coronation Cup winner St Nicholas Abbey who has got his career back on track after an injury-plagued season last year which saw him run only once.
O'Brien also left in the big-priced Seville, who ran just last week in the Grand Prix de Paris.
Sponsors of Saturday's King George, Betfair, feel that although St Nicholas Abbey was the general market leader yesterday, that it will in fact be Workforce who will jump off favourite on race day.
Murmurs that Workforce would miss the race saw him drift out to a high of 20/1 with Betfair, and while he was second favourite with them yesterday, Irish spokesman Barry Orr was confident Michael Stoute's charge would shorten as the week goes on.
Orr said: “Now the doubts about Workforce running in our race have seemingly been put to bed – although minor doubts about him running slightly bolster his current price – it strikes me that he is set to go off favourite on the day.
“Not only has he got the best form in the race, – in fact, Timeform have him a healthy fivepounds clear of his main market rival St Nicholas Abbey – but he comes here on the back of a superb effort in the Coral-Eclipse and the ground looks to be coming in his favour too.”
Workforce was last seen in the Eclipse when beaten a half a length by the Aidan O'Brien trained So You Think over two furlongs shorter and although a winner over 10 furlongs, the four-yearold looked far more comfortable over the Derby and Arc trip.
Indeed, it will be interesting to see how Workforce does run on Saturday after a horrific performance in this race last year in which he never rose a gallop and was a huge disappointment at odds of 8/11.
Fresh from their Irish Oaks success at the Curragh on Sunday, Mahmood Al Zarooni and Frankie Dettori will try and add another Group One as Royal Ascot winner Rewilding bids to confirm his improvement this season by following up that defeat of So You Think to claim another notable couple of scalps.
Despite his two impressive Group One wins this term, Rewilding remains the third favourite in the race, ahead though of the supplemented course-and-distance winner Nathaniel who has the added bonus of receiving a 12-pound allowance from his main rivals, which is a massive pull.