Jim Bolger’s charge announced himself as one of Europe’s leading middle distance three-year-olds with a comfortable length and three-quarter success in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on June 29.
The son of Teofilo relished the step up to a mile and a half, staying on strongly to repel the challenge of Investec Derby third Galileo Rock, with Ruler Of The World and Libertarian, who finished first and second at Epsom Downs, well beaten.
Bolger, who completed the Irish Derby-King George VI & Queen Elizabeth II Stakes double with St Jovite in 1992, revealed: “Trading Leather is fine and on course for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
“It was a first-class performance in the Irish Derby. He ran right to the line in a fast time and came out of the race very well.
“It gets a bit tougher now he is stepping into open company, but I am hoping he is up to the task. Like St Jovite, he is a good Derby winner and I’m hoping he will continue to progress from here.
“He doesn’t like soft ground but after that he doesn’t mind.”
Irish champion trainer Aidan O’Brien has five entries headed by six-time Group One winner St Nicholas Abbey, who heads to Ascot on the back of a record-breaking third victory in the Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom Downs on June 1. The six-year-old is the 2/1 favourite with Betfair Sportsbook.
Cirrus Des Aigles (11/4), the world’s highest rated horse coming into 2013, will be looking improve his already superb record at Ascot. The seven-year-old captured the QIPCO Champion Stakes in 2011 and chased home Frankel in the same race last year, but could only finish fifth behind Novellist (5/1) on his seasonal return in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud on June 23.
Other notable contenders include Prince Of Wales’s Stakes runner-up Mukhadram (12/1) and Roger Varian’s Ektihaam (8/1), both owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum.
Hillstar has been introduced into the betting as a 7/1 chance, following the news that the three-year may be supplemented for the race. Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, the son of Danehill Dancer could bid to give the Newmarket handler a record sixth win in the race.
The lightly-raced colt has made impressive progress this season, rising from handicap company to take the Group Two King Edward Stakes at Royal Ascot on his latest start.
Betfair Spokesman Barry Orr commented today: “It’s looking likely that Hillstar will be added to the line-up for an already cracking field for the King George.
“He will bid to make history for Sir Michael Stoute and looks to be a typical improving colt from his yard. The step up in trip seemed to benefit at Ascot and he did it nicely.”
King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes – Betfair Sportsbook – 2/1 St Nicholas Abbey; 11/4 Cirrus Des Aigles, 5/1 Novellist, Trading Leather, 7/1 Hillstar, 8/1 Ektihaam, 12/1 Mukhadarm, 16/1 bar *Each Way 1/4 Odds first 3 places