The King George V Queen Elizabeth Stakes is the highlight of the midsummer flat season. Where the cream of the four years olds take on the rising stars of the middle distance category over a testing mile and a half at Ascot.
Over the years it has seen some of the great horses do battle from the likes of Nashwan, Dancing Brave, Brigadier Gerard and Mill Reef all cememting their place among the greats with victory in the race.
As the crowds descended on the Berkshire track this year there was a buzz about the place, but sadly not so much about the day but whether or not the Derby winner Golden Horn would run. Owned by Anthony Oppenheimer Golden Horn had been a scintillating winner of the Investec Derby before a sparkling performance to take the Coral Eclipse at Sandown Park earlier in the month, but his participation hinged on his trainer John Gosden walking the track before the race due to the 35mm of rain that had fallen the day before leaving the ground as Soft.
Then came the announcement, Golden horn was a non runner. Around the paddock where people were gathering to watch the runners for the first there was disappointment with speculation as to whether or not the decision was done for the horses welfare or to protect the reputation and significant sum of money he is now worth as an unbeaten Derby winner. Mr John Gosden though is an extremely experienced trainer and it would be a surpise if the latter had crossed his mind at all.
Now with the favourite out Eagle Top was left at the head of the betting, also trained by John Gosden. Frankie Dettori as stable jockey was able to jock Richard Hughes off his last ever ride in the King George (a race which has ultimatley evaded him as a jockey), The race as a contest had changed with the ratings of the horses contesting it more akin to a good Group 2 than a Group 1 championship race.
As the gates went back Romsdal was sent to the front under William Buick who was trying to emulate horses such as Doyen and Swain and win in the colours of Godolphin, settling in behind him were Postponed and Snow Sky with Eagle Top and Clever Cookie anchored at the back of the field. The pace wasn't that strong, but considering the ground it was solid enough. As the runners exited Swinley Bottom Clever Cookies rider started to niggle him along, as the others held their places climbing towards the straight.
Starting the turn and Italian raider Dylan Mouth was beaten, being scrubbed along and finding nothing, Postponed was sitting quietly on the quarters of the leader with Snow Sky angling for a run in behind. Then off he went... Atzeni said go and Postponed responded generously putting two lengths between him and the others in a very short space of time. Meanwhile Frankie was making his run somewhere down the High Street.
Postponed was finding infront but the deficit was quickly eroded by the Gosden inmate and it looked for all the world that he was going to win the race anyway as Eagle Top hit the front. The two that had done battle some would say quite literally were head to head and fighting for the prize, both Jockeys head down trying everything to secure victory !!
Postpponed was battling back with the rail to help as Eagle top drifted towards him and as they flashed past the post there was nothing in it. The crowd fell quiet and the murmurings that surround a photo finish started, who had got it .....
"FIRST NUMBER 5 POSTPONED" He had done it, succeeding where High Rise had failed and given Luca Cumani a first Group 1 in about 10 years. Andre Atzeni a replacement for retained rider Adam Kirby had won the highlight for his old boss !