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St Nic stands King George ground


St Nicholas Abbey

St Nicholas Abbey

PA Wire/Press Association Images

St Nicholas Abbey

St Nicholas Abbey is set for a third crack at the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Aidan O'Brien's multiple Group One winner has made the frame behind Nathaniel and Danedream in the last two runnings and was last seen lifting his third Coronation Cup at Epsom, but jockey Joseph O'Brien is praying the rain stays away.

He said: "The quicker the ground the better for my horse. On good to firm, quick ground I'd be very happy. If it got much slower than good, I'd have a little worry."

St Nicholas Abbey's stablemates Chamonix and Ernest Hemingway are also in the reckoning, and Jim Bolger has Irish Derby hero Trading Leather among the 11 confirmations.

As expected, Hillstar has been supplemented for the race. Sir Michael Stoute's three-year-old claimed the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last month and owner Sir Evelyn de Rothschild has stumped up the required £75,000 to add him to the field for the midsummer highlight.

Corine Barande-Barbe's French superstar Cirrus Des Aigles is set to be joined on the trip across the Channel by compatriot Very Nice Name, as well as Andreas Wohler's German raider Novellist.

Roger Varian is anticipating a bold bid from Ektihaam, who won the Buckhounds Stakes over the course and distance before slipping up in the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal meeting.

"He's just had routine exercise, he's had a couple of canters, and he'll do stronger work tomorrow. I'm happy with how he is, he's moving well and he looks great," the Newmarket trainer told At The Races.

"To have a horse going who is a genuine contender is really exciting. It's a huge race, one of the top races in Europe, and to be involved is massive for me."

The field is completed by Universal and Red Cadeaux.