Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Highland Fling Can Reel in Ascot Rivals

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Highland Fling Can Reel in Ascot Rivals

Article excerpt

HIGHLAND Reel is a tentative call to win an underwhelming renewal of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot tomorrow.

With white-hot favourite Postponed out of the reckoning due to a respiratory issue, the five-runner affair looks substandard and wide open.

But Aidan O'Brien's colt probably has just as much chance as Royal runner Dartmouth - and should be available at bigger odds.

French challenger Erupt is interesting, as is Wings Of Desire, but it could feasibly boil down to another showdown between the Queen's colt and Highland Reel.

Dartmouth seized the day at Royal Ascot, when he defeated the Ballydoyle inmate by a head in the Hardwicke Stakes.

Both horses would have been better on a sounder surface, but perhaps O'Brien's well-travelled four-year-old has that little bit more beneath the bonnet.

Make no mistake, Dartmouth is still improving, yet Highland Reel was not in a particularly good mood in the Hardwicke and still nearly won.

The son of Galileo was sweaty and restless entering the stalls, and then raced very keenly in the early exchanges.

Indeed, once Seamie Heffernan's companion became embroiled in a fight, he hardly looked energised when Dartmouth went the front.

But then, suddenly, he finally realised what it was all about and got stuck in deep inside the final furlong.

Heffernan also lost his whip two furlongs from home, which probably had no impact on the final result but certainly did not help, while Highland Reel also carried his head to the left one side when he was shuffled right by the winner.

Dartmouth was nonetheless on top when it mattered, but an argument can be made to suggest the runner-up did not run to his very best form which has seen him land huge prizes in America and Hong Kong.

That was also Highland Reel's first start since April, whereas the winner was at Chester in May, so one would assume O'Brien might now have his representative at fever pitch -which did not appear the case at the Royal meeting.

Oodles of dough in the kitty for the Gigaset International Stakes, in which Bossy Guest can cause a bit of a rumpus. …

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