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Trading Leather tackles elders in King George at Ascot

Updated: Saturday, 27 Jul 2013 13:15 | Comments

Trading Leather will be bidding to win his third race on the bounce when he contests the King George at Ascot this afternoon
Trading Leather will be bidding to win his third race on the bounce when he contests the King George at Ascot this afternoon

Trading Leather attempts to come out of his stablemate Dawn Approach's shadow when he lines-up for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

The Teofilo colt has held second billing behind his fellow Jim Bolger inmate, who has tended to hog the headlines throughout their racing careers so far.

However, Trading Leather justified the regard in which Bolger holds him when winning the Irish Derby and the Coolcullen handler is looking forward to the summer showpiece sponsored by Betfair.

"He's in good shape and we're looking forward to it," Bolger told At The Races.

"At the beginning of the year I was regarding him as my Derby horse and I got side-tracked a little bit with Dawn Approach going to Epsom.

"We ran him in the Dante at York. We were happy with his run and I didn't have another mile horse so we ran him in the Irish 2000 Guineas. We were happy with his run there (third).

"Then he won the Silver Stakes over a mile and a quarter. He seemed to win that very well so we thought he'd get the mile and a half and get it well. I was giving him a good chance before the race and he didn't let us down.

"Mentally he's very good. He's a bit edgy going down to the start after Kevin (Manning) gets on him but when he gets there he's fine and he settles well in his races.

"We'd like nice pace for him and hopefully we'll get that. After that I don't really have any worries about him."

Bolger's only previous King George triumph came back in 1992 with another Irish Derby hero St Jovite.

Jockey Johnny Murtagh on the other hand goes for a fourth success in this prestigious contest after wins on Alamshar, Dylan Thomas and Duke Of Marmalade when he gets the leg up on Novellist for German trainer Andreas Wohler.

"He's a typical German horse - tough, stays well, a good trainer. I'm looking forward to it. It's a nice spare ride to get," said Murtagh.

"The King George is a huge race. I've won it before and I'd like to win it again.

"He's won Group Ones in Germany and won one in France last time. He beat the favourite Cirrus Des Aigles last time and I'm hoping he can again. If he does he should be fighting out the finish as it's a wide-open race now with St Nicholas Abbey out."

Wohler is hoping his Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner can pull out the extra he thinks is needed to figure in the finish of such a high-quality race.

"Obviously he has improved this season but this is going to be a tougher race again, the toughest race he's ever had and he'll need to improve even more," he said.

Cirrus Des Aigles was making a belated seasonal debut because of injury when fifth at Saint-Cloud and will be ridden by Christophe Soumillon for the first time in nearly 16 months.

"It was always organised that if Olivier (Peslier) couldn't ride, Christophe will and he knows the horse very well and he knows Ascot, so it is not a problem," said trainer Corine Barande-Barbe.

"He won in Dubai where the ground was very fast. One thing is sure when it is raining a lot and the ground becomes heavy or very deep he is not disturbed at all.

"His turn of foot allows him to win over any distance."

Peslier will be in opposition on the Alban de Mieulle-trained Very Nice Name, who was last seen in action finishing third behind St Nicholas Abbey in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March.

"He's very well. He had a long break after a hard winter in Qatar but he has been working well," said de Mieulle.

"He doesn't mind the ground, but he does need a good pace. It will be a hard race, but it's a challenge and we'll see. I think we would be happy if he finishes in the first three."

"He surprised everybody in the Sheema Classic but it is difficult to gauge the quality of horse in Qatar. We tend to see a lot of horses arrive out there who have Group form in Europe, but quite often they are tired after a long season in the northern hemisphere.

"It will be an interesting challenge."

One of the main home contenders is the Roger Varian-trained Ektihaam, who aims to make amends after slipped up on the bend a long way from home in the Hardwicke Stakes when making the running at the Royal meeting.

The Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned four-year-old suffered no ill-effects and connections are hopeful he can build on his previous course and distance win.

"Ektihaam seems in great form and has been pleasing me at home ahead of this race. Who knows what would have happened in the Hardwicke Stakes had he not slipped, but prior to that his form is very strong," the Newmarket handler told www.varianstable.com.

"He is a big horse who I feel has now reached full maturity. It is possible we haven't seen the best of him yet."

With the owner's retained jockey Paul Hanagan opting to go to York mainly for Mukhadram in the Sky Bet Stakes, Dane O'Neill comes for the handy spare ride.

"I spoke to Roger about his mishap at Ascot and there were no problems afterwards, no injury or anything like that," said O'Neill.

"Mentally and physically he came out of the race fine and doesn't seem to have done his confidence any harm so hopefully we can get back on track.

"He's very straightforward and I'd imagine he'll be ridden prominently. He's always been up there this year. We'll be prominent and let him use his stride but he doesn't have to make it."

Sir Michael Stoute has an enviable record in the race and persuaded the owners of three-year-old Hillstar, winner of the King Edward VII Stakes, to pay #75,000 to supplement the colt.

Stoute said: "Hillstar is in good shape for this tough contest. He is a course and distance winner and his preparation has gone well."

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