Five of the best! Our top five King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes
5. 1989 – Nashwan
Considered one of the great horses of all time, Nashwan went into the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes as the 2/9 favourite, following the withdrawal of the Prix du Jockey Club winner Old Vic.
He was expected to win the race easily, but this time had to really fight for his success. His old rival Cacoethes challenged him throughout the final two furlongs, with Nashwan edging out victory by a neck.
Glory at Ascot cemented his place amongst racing’s greats. The Dick Hern-trained star had added King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes triumph to his 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and Eclipse Stakes titles – making him the first horse to complete the British Group 1 quartet in racing history.
4. 2008 – Duke of Marmalade
Duke of Marmalade made a step up in trip to contest the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. He was made 4/6 favourite.
His main opponent was expected to be Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner Youmzain, who he had previously beaten at Royal Ascot.
Duke of Marmalade was settled in the midfield before being switched to the outside in the straight, overtaking Red Rock Canyon entering the final furlong. He was immediately challenged and headed by Papal Bull in a nail-biting finish, but rallied gamely to regain the lead close to the finish.
Winning by a length and a half, jockey Johnny Murtagh said: “Mine has all that makes a real champion. He looked the other horse in the eye and ate ground. He has that will to win”.
3. 1971 – Mill Reef
Mill Reef defied expectations during his three-year-old season, proving himself to be an outstanding middle distance racehorse.
After easily winning the Epsom Derby and Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, the Ian Balding-trained star saved his best for Ascot.
Cruising into contention in the closing stages, Mill Reef demonstrated his class to register a thumping six-length victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes over his established rivals. It was breathtaking.
2. 2001 – Galileo
For the first time in his career, Galileo was tested against older horses.
The betting suggested that the race would be a match between Galileo (1/2 favourite) and the Godolphin five-year-old Fantastic Light (7/2). It was a contest racing fans had been awaiting all season.
With the crowd anticipating a monumental duel, Aidan O’Brien’s star was brought into the lead two furlongs out, before Fantastic Light came up to challenge him.
The two horses raced together stride-by-stride, before Galileo strongly pulled ahead inside the final furlong to win by two lengths.
Marcus Townend, writing in the Daily Mail, described Galileo as the best horse in Europe with his ‘lightning speed’.
Galileo has since proven himself to be as successful as a stallion as he was on the track in recent years, siring the likes of 2013 QIPCO 2000 Guineas champion New Approach, last season’s Investec Derby hero and British racing legend Frankel.
1. 1975 – Grundy
Grundy’s win in the 1975 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes is hailed as Britain’s ‘Race of the Century’. The match between Grundy and Bustino was hotly anticipated, and proved to be one of the most exciting races of all time.
Two ‘pacemaker’ stablemates of Bustino were entered in the race – Highest and Kinglet.
These two set a staggering fast pace early on in the middle distance contest that was engineered to wear down Grundy and weaken his trademark finishing acceleration.
With half a mile left to run, Bustino moved into the lead. He was ahead by four lengths as the pair turned for home, but Grundy was waiting patiently to launch his attack.
The two horses began pulling away from the rest of the field and with a furlong left to run, Grundy managed to edge, stride-by-stride, ahead of his rival. The Peter Walwyn-trained icon delivered.
The 1975 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes more than lived up to its billing.