Founded to commemorate the coronation of King George V in 1911, this race has long been a regular fixture at Goodwood. Horses aged three-years-old and up are eligible to compete but different weights apply depending on age, sex and previous Group level wins.
Prominent runners in the race sometimes go on to feature in next month’s Nunthorpe Stakes although Battaash in 2019 was only the second horse to do the double since Lochsong in 1993, having tried and failed in the second leg twice before. Battaash further created history with his victory in 2019, becoming the first horse to win the King George on three occasions.
King George Stakes Past Winners
|2020||Battaash||2/7||Charles Hills||Jim Crowley|
|2019||Battaash||1/4||Charles Hills||Jim Crowley|
|2018||Battaash||8/11||Charles Hills||Jim Crowley|
|2017||Battaash||9/2||Charles Hill||Jim Crowley|
|2016||Take Cover||8/1||David Griffiths||David Allan|
|2015||Muthmir||3/1||William Haggas||Paul Hanagan|
|2014||Take Cover||6/1||David Griffiths||Andrea Atzeni|
|2013||Moviesta||5/1||Bryan Smart||Paul Mulrennan|
|2012||Ortensia||6/1||Paul Messara||William Buick|
|2011||Masamah||4/1||Kevin Ryan||Jamie Spencer|
About the King George Stakes
When flat racing fans talk about “the King George” more often than not they’ll be referring to the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes held at Ascot. Be careful not to confuse this with the King George Stakes, the leading race on day four of the Glorious Goodwood festival. The two races are nothing alike with the King George Stakes a sprint event contested over the minimum distance of five furlongs.
Of course the National Hunt race at Kempton on Boxing Day, the King George VI Chase, adds another bit of confusion for some punters, but that’s a different kettle of fish altogether.
The creation of the King George Stakes, rather unsurprisingly, dates back to the reign of King George, but that would be King George V rather than the later monarch after whom the other two mentioned races were named. During the year of George V’s coronation in 1911, the sprint was established in the monarch’s honour.
The race has undergone few major changes since although there are now various allowances and penalties in place. The Group 2 contest sees fillies and mares given a three pound allowance while former Group 1 and Group 2 winners are handed a five pound and three pound penalty respectively. This only applies however if the Group win came during the current, or previous season.
NOT UP TO THE NUNTHORPE
It’s a natural progression for leading King George performers to head towards the Nunthorpe Stakes at York later in the season. Only a slight step up in grading and run over the same distance, you might expect many horses to enjoy success in both races. This has absolutely not been the case however in recent years with only Battaash in 2019, Ortensia in 2012 and Lochsong in 1993 winning both contests in the same season in over 30 years. Many King George champions have found themselves well up the betting for York’s Group 1 contest but more often than not they’ve fallen a fair way short of expectations.
A RACE OF FAMILIAR FACES
You will find many horses try their luck several times in this race but being able to secure more than one victory has proven tricky. Only three horses have won this race more than once since 1960: Lochsong (1993, 1994); Take Cover (2014, 2016); and Battaash (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020).
Take Cover is one of the best examples of horses coming back for more in this race with him featuring in all five renewals between 2014 and 2018. On his final effort, the bay gelding ran alongside former champion Muthmir who was making his third King George Stakes appearance.
As you can see below, in recent years horses who have already run in this race are only just outnumbered by those making their debut.
The most important thing to take away from the data above is that while horses do often come back for more in this contest, their first effort is often their best. This is certainly true of winners with nine of the last 13 King George champions winning on their first appearance in the race. The well-travelled mare Ortensia is the only winner who didn’t try their luck again in the race, retired to stud before they had the chance.
SPONSORSHIP DEALS SEES HUGE PURSE INCREASE
The King George stakes was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the 10-year partnership between Goodwood Racecourse and Qatar. The deal, which commenced in 2015, brought a further £2m in investment over the course of Glorious Goodwood, with a promise of this being increased year on year.
At the time it was the largest sponsorship ever made for the benefit of British racing. Eight key races enjoyed a big cash injection and for the King George Stakes, its prize fund tripled from £100k to £300k. This figure will increase to £500k should the race be granted Group 1 status. In 2020 the prize fund for the King George dropped to £125,000 with the meeting held behind closed doors.