ASCOT, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND — Juddmonte’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (G1) winner Westover (GB) is slated to battle the John and Thady Gosden-trained duo of Emily Upjohn (GB) and Mishriff (IRE), headlining Saturday’s 1 ½-mile King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes (G1) at Ascot. The race winner will earn an automatic berth into this year’s US$4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is an international series of 82 stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, on Nov. 4-5.
The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes will be televised live on TVG at 10:35 a.m. ET.
Westover, trained by Ralph Beckett, has won three of his six starts. A 3-year-old son of Frankel (GB) out of the Lear Fan mare Mirabilis, Westover took command inside the final 2 furlongs of the 1 ½-mile Irish Derby on June 2 at The Curragh and rolled to a 7-length victory, registering his first Group 1 score. The Irish Derby win contrasted with the troubled trip he encountered in the 1 ½-mile Cazoo Derby (G1) at Epsom three weeks earlier. Trapped along the rail in the stretch, Westover finally found room inside the final furlong to close strongly for a third-place finish. Westover opened 2022 with a win in the 1 ¼-mlle Bet 365 Classic Trial (G3) at Sandown on April 22.
The Gosden-trained runners should pose a formidable challenge to Westover. Lloyd Webber, Tactful Finance, and Stuart Roden’s 3-year-old filly Emily Upjohn incurred her first career defeat in her fourth start when she finished second by a short head to Tuesday (IRE) in the 1 ½-mile Cazoo Oaks (G1) at Epsom on June 3 as the 3-2 favorite. A daughter of Sea the Stars (IRE), Emily Upjohn missed the break in the Oaks but recovered from last place and mounted a furious stretch drive on the extreme outside, and just missed catching the winner at the wire. Prior to the Oaks, Emily Upjohn won the 1 5/16-mile Tattersalls Musidora Stakes (G3) on May 11 at York by 5 ½ lengths.
Prince A. A. Faisal’s 5-year-old Mishriff is a three-time Group 1 winner, having captured some of the world’s most prestigious races on both turf and dirt. As a 3-year-old, Mishriff, a son of Make Believe (GB) out of Contradict (GB) by 2008 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Raven’s Pass, won the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) (G1). At 4, he won the inaugural Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz, the Dubai World Cup (G1) and the Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) at York. This year, after trailing the field in his Saudi Cup (G1) defense in January, Mishriff returned to the races on July 2 in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes (G1) at Sandown. After a slow start, Mishriff battled out of trouble in the stretch and chased French Derby winner Vadeni (FR) to the wire, losing by a neck.
John Gosden has won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes five times, including three times with the brilliant Enable (GB), who in 2018 captured this race and gained an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), which she later won at Churchill Downs.
One of the biggest shocks in the racing world last year was Gestut Aunquelle’s Torquator Tasso (GER) winning the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) at 72-1 for Germany. Trained by Marcel Weiss, Torquator Tasso fought to the front over heavy ground to edge 2020 Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) winner Tarnawa (IRE) by three-quarters of a length. It was the second Group 1 win last year for the son of Alderflug (GER), who captured the Wettstar Grosser Preis von Baden at Baden-Baden on Sept. 5. Now in his 5-year-old season, Torquator Tasso comes into Saturday’s race off a 3 ½-length victory in the 1 ½-mile wettstar.de Grosser Hansa-Preis (G2) at Hamburg on July 2. A winner of 6 races in 13 starts, Torquator Tasso was the 2020 German Horse of the Year.
Masaaki Matsushima, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s 6-year-old Broome (IRE) powered to the front by 2 lengths into the final furlong of last year’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Del Mar before being overtaken by Yibir (GB) at the finish. Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Broome, a son of Australia (GB), has won eight races, including his most recent triumph in the 1 ½-mile Hardwicke Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot on June 18, leading throughout to a 3 ¼-length victory.
O’Brien is seeking his fifth win in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes. His last one came in 2016 with Highland Reel (IRE), who gained a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series berth and went on to win the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
La Pyle Partnership’s 5-year-old Pyledriver (GB) is seeking his seventh win. Trained by William Muir and Chris Grassick, Pyledriver finished second in the 1 ½-mile Dahlbury Coronation Cup (G1) at Epsom on June 3, after winning the race in 2021. A son of Harbour Watch (IRE), Pyledriver finished a length behind Glory Vase (JPN) in last year’s Hong Kong Vase (G1) at Sha Tin. He opened 2022 with an 11th place finish in the Neom Turf Cup (G3) in Saudi Arabia, and was fourth in the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) at Meydan in March.
As part of the benefits of the Challenge Series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes winner to start in the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), which will be run at 1 ½ miles at Keeneland. Breeders’ Cup will also provide a travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships. The Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program by the Championships’ pre-entry deadline of Oct. 24 to receive the rewards.
Breeders’ Cup Press Release
Photo: Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series Logo