Highland Reel claimed victory at the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and will be aiming to maintain his success when he returns to the racecourse for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes to defend his crown.
Aidan O’Brien’s charge produced an outstanding display to win the crown during the event, defeating his nearest rival, Decorated Knight, by one-and-a-quarter lengths. The Irish horse has been rested since, but will be eager to continue his impressive campaign, having also won the Coronation Cup at the Epsom Downs.
As a result, it will be worth tracking Highland Reel’s odds with Oddschecker’s horse racing tips for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot at the end of July. O’Brien’s charge made his first impact in 2014, winning his first race at the Maiden Stakes at Gowran Park, while he followed that up with another victory at the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.
Due to his early impressive performances, Highland Reel competed at the Prix Du Jockey Club at Chantilly – the first major race of his career. However, he just lacked the pace to beat out New Bay – trained by Andre Fabre – to the crown, losing by one-and-a-half lengths.
He failed to live up to expectations at the Irish Derby, finishing fifth in a field that included Jack Hobbs. The Irish horse bounced back with victories at the Gordon Stakes and Secretariat Stakes, but when exposed to another talented field in the Irish Champion Stakes he could not match the pace of the leading pack – as the legendary horse Golden Horn triumphed at Leopardstown.
In the 2016 campaign, he came into Royal Ascot without a great deal of race action and that perhaps played a role in his second-place finish in the Hardwicke Stakes. Dartmouth just edged out O’Briens charge by a head in the meet, with the Irish horse lacking a fraction of pace in the final straight.
He bounced back at the end of July in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, avenging his defeat as he eased to victory over the rest over the field, including Dartmouth. The Irish Champion Stakes was to end in disappointment again, while Found bettered him at Chantilly in the Prix De L'Arc De Triomphe, finishing second behind his stablemate.
The Breeders' Cup brought out the best in Highland Reel, as he triumphed by one-and-three-quarters lengths, producing arguably the best display of his career.
Highland Reel began 2017 in Meydan for the Sheema Classic, but he didn’t have the pace from the off, finishing last for the first time in his career. However, O’Brien had his charge ready for the first race of the flat season in England at the Epsom Downs, entering the race as the favourite. The five-year-old delivered with a flawless display to win the Coronation Cup.
The Irish horse was outstanding once again in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot, producing a fine run down the final furlong to win the meet, with former conqueror and race favourite Jack Hobbs languishing down in eighth place.
The pressure will be on Highland Reel to win his third race on the bounce, which he has never previously achieved during his three years in the sport. It would be no surprise to see the Irish horse, O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore to deliver another flawless outing at Ascot.