Arc winner makes trip for the Ascot showpiece

DANEDREAM, the unheralded German-trained thoroughbred who won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last autumn, will have her first start in England on Saturday when she contests the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

The Betfair-sponsored showpiece looks like being a very strong renewal with dual Coronation Cup winner St Nicholas Abbey, last year’s winner, Eclipse hero Nathaniel and Melbourne Cup hero Dunaden all among 12 possibles.

Following her victory in the Arc, the Peter Schiergen-trained Danedream finished sixth in the Japan Cup but returned with an easy win at Baden-Baden in May.

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She then travelled back to France for the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud but was only fourth.

“She prefers a strong gallop and that is usually what you get in England. Everything has gone well since her last race,” said Schiergen. “Soft ground would not bother her at all, she handles it very well.”

John Gosden has left in last year’s victor Nathaniel, who won the Eclipse on his comeback run 10 days ago under regular rider William Buick. Gosden could also run last year’s St Leger winner Masked Marvel.

Aidan O’Brien’s St Nicholas Abbey has been ante-post favourite on the back of his impressive display at Epsom in the Coronation Cup, but the Ballydoyle stable has lost its aura of invincibility in recent weeks. Stablemates Windsor Palace and Robin Hood could help make the pace.

Dunaden will be reunited with Australian jockey Craig Williams, who partnered him to victory in the Geelong Cup and the Hong Kong Vase.

“Basically, Sheikh Fahad (owner) decided that whoever was to ride the horse in the Arc was to ride him in all his races between now and then,” said the Sheikh’s racing manager, David Redvers.

“Craig has won his only two starts on the horse, he knows him well and was prepared to make the sacrifice and commitment to come all the way from Australia to ride the horse.

“He’s a little bit like a Flat equivalent of AP McCoy in that I expect he makes an incredibly boring husband as he comes home and pours over videos after videos.”

Tom Dascombe’s Brown Panther, victorious at Pontefract last month, is an intended runner for footballer Michael Owen.

Meanwhile, Kieren Fallon believes Mount Athos could have a live chance in the Melbourne Cup after the Luca Cumani-trained five-year-old won York’s John Smith’s Silver Cup in impressive style on Saturday.

Australia’s so-called ‘race that stops a nation’ is one that Cumani has come agonisingly close to winning in the past.

“I’ll be honest, I’ve always liked him. When I rode him at home I thought he could have been a Gold Cup horse,” said Fallon, the six-times champion jockey.

“He hasn’t had his ground, but he’s come good at the right time. He’d had a live shout in the Ebor but the Melbourne Cup is a race everybody wants to win as it’s worth a lot of money.”

Teenage riding star Brendan Powell hopes to make a swift return to action once he has sat out the mandatory 21 days after being knocked unconscious at Southwell on Sunday. The injury setback came 48 hours after the precocious 17-year-old rode Free Verse to victory on the Flat at Newmarket for the Queen.

“He’s still got a bit of a headache but there’s nothing wrong with him to speak of,” said the jockey’s father, Brendan Powell snr.