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Ralph Beckett is hoping that west is best despite not harbouring King George hopes for Westover

Ralph Beckett hopes west is best, despite King George not hoping for Westover earlier in the spring…

  • Ralph Beckett had no hopes for King George VI earlier in the spring
  • His horse Westover will compete against a small but select line-up for the £1.25 million race
  • Beckett’s only previous runner in the King George was ninth. Look here
  • Beckett described the race as ‘the English arc’ and underlined its importance

Some of Ralph Beckett’s earliest racing memories revolve around the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot, which makes it special to have a contender in Westover who can win the brilliant prize.

Beckett was nine years old when he saw the Dick Hern-trained Ela-Mana-Mou win in 1980 under Willie Carson, while the aura surrounding the iconic 1981 winner Shergar still burns brightly in Beckett’s memory.

The trainer said: “It wasn’t so much Shergar’s run, but what did leave a big impression was that he was cheered on in the paddock. I’ve hardly ever seen that, maybe only with Frankel since then. I was already quite obsessed with racing back then, but days like that cemented my love for the sport.

Westover is a contender for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes award at Ascot

Westover is a contender for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes award at Ascot

“It now also reinforces the importance of the race.

“When you’re an English coach it’s a big deal to win a King George. It’s the English Arc.’

In the spring, Beckett harbored no hopes of King George for Westover, who, like his father Frankel, wears the late Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Stud livery. But after sliding home with a short head in the Sandown Classic Trial in April, he was an unlucky third from Desert Crown in the Derby at Epsom, losing all momentum when his straight run home was blocked.

Raplh Beckett's only previous runner, Look Here, finished ninth in the King Geroge

Raplh Beckett’s only previous runner, Look Here, finished ninth in the King Geroge

He followed that up with a seven-length demolition job in the Irish Derby in the hands of today’s rider, three-time Irish champion Colin Keane.

Beckett, whose only previous King George rider in 2009 was Look Here in ninth place, said: ‘There was an element of thinking he was a St Leger horse. I remember thinking that. I’m not sure I’ve thought that since the Derby. He has exceeded most if not all expectations.

“More and more people are telling me they think he’s won the Derby, but that’s water under the bridge. I was overjoyed with the run as he had to overcome a tricky draw.

“We have to focus on the now. It’s a horse that we always thought would develop through the year and it looks like it could be right.’

Westover faces a small but select lineup for the £1.25 million race, including Arc winner Torquator Tasso in 2021.

Five of the six runners are Group One winners, but Emily Upjohn, the one who isn’t, may prove to be his biggest obstacle.

Emily Upjohn moved to the King George this Saturday after missing Irish Oaks

Emily Upjohn moved to the King George this Saturday after missing Irish Oaks

She will be dealing with foals for the first time and will gain a lot of weight from her rivals. That’s something John Gosden, who trains Emily Upjohn with son Thady, has already tapped into with Enable, who was three years old when she won the first of her three King Georges in 2017, and Taghrooda, who won the award in 2014. after winning the Oaks at Epsom.

An unfortunate brief defeat at Oaks this season for Emily Upjohn was one of the lead-up events to the brief split between Frankie Dettori and the Gosdens.

They’ve reaffirmed their vows, but it feels like they need a big win for the union to bless.

Desert Crown, ruled out of the King George by trainer Sir Michael Stoute due to a foot problem, will not be ready to return in the International Stakes in York.

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