Hammond tips Dunaden to win King George
Keith Hamer
07:38 AEST Sat Jul 21 2012

John Hammond has a special reason to be interested in the outcome of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

The English-born, Chantilly-based trainer saddled the great Montjeu to land the midsummer middle-distance championship in 2000.

A champion racehorse, Montjeu also enjoyed great success as a stallion and is represented by St Nicholas Abbey, winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf and two Coronation Cups, and 2011 St Leger victor Masked Marvel in the big race.

However, while expecting St Nicholas Abbey to run well for the Aidan O'Brien stable, Hammond is keen on the chances of Dunaden.

Last year's Melbourne Cup and Hong Kong Vase hero is trained in France by Mikel Delzangles and looked an unlucky loser when runner-up to fellow King George rival Sea Moon in the Hardwicke Stakes over the course and distance at the Royal meeting.

"It's a open contest and I thought Dunaden ran well at Ascot," said Hammond.

"He got a bit too far behind in a race with a slow pace. He could move up from that off a good pace. He likes coming off a fast pace.

"I saw St Nicholas Abbey was drifting in the betting but I don't know what that was about. It's an interesting race."

Ryan Moore, who rides Hardwicke Stakes winner Sea Moon for Sir Michael Stoute, also gives St Nicholas Abbey the utmost respect.

"It's a race with plenty of strength in depth," said Moore.

"This year you've got the Melbourne Cup winner, the Arc winner, Japanese Derby winner, St Nicholas Abbey, Nathaniel - it's a very strong race.

"St Nicholas Abbey has been very good this year so far. People were quick to write him off, but he's won four Group Ones and has shown the last couple of years what a high-class horse he is.

"Sea Moon was impressive at Ascot, but he's got to step up a bit more to trouble the favourites here."

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