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Postponed denies Eagle Top in King George  

     Report: Ascot, Saturday

King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Sponsored By Qipco) (Group 1) 1m4f, 3yo+

POSTPONED, at the centre of a rumpus at the royal meeting, returned to the track to cause a different type of storm when battling back to deny favourite Eagle Top in a nail-biting finish.

The Luca Cumani-trained 6-1 shot showed the guts of a prize-fighter to rally after Eagle Top had hit the front as the pair duelled for the final furlong.

Postponed, ridden by Andrea Atzeni after owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum took the decision to replace Adam Kirby, just held the advantage at the line with the judge required to separate the pair.

For much of the final stages, it appeared that Frankie Dettori, who switched to Eagle Top following the late withdrawal of Golden Horn, was still going to deliver victory to trainer John Gosden.

Postponed took over the lead from the fading Romsdal, who stayed on for third, and bolted a couple of lengths clear, but Dettori had the move covered and Eagle Top began to close the gap.

Eagle Top briefly held sway on the run to the line but Atzeni got one last thrust out of Postponed against the far rail and it proved just enough to give Cumani his first British Group 1 victory in ten years.

It seemed to be fate that the front two would battle it out in such a way, as last time in the Hardwicke Stakes they became embroiled in a barging match behind runaway winner Snow Sky, after which Gosden accused Kirby of employing tactics that were "not clean and not intelligent" on Postponed.

Sights set on the Arc

"It was a fantastic race and Andrea gave him a peach of a ride," said Cumani. "He was ready for a mile and a half, he just wanted a good pace, but I wasn`t sure about the ground - I didn`t know whether he could handle it.

"They were locked together in battle and I didn`t know who had won."

Postponed took his form to a new level last year when winning the Great Voltigeur at York and had run with credit on each of his previous three starts this season.

Regarding future plans, Cumani added: "The Prix de l`Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp is now the long-range target. It would be nice to think about the Arc now we know he goes on soft ground. It`s a step higher, but it`s a challenge and we`ll have to take it."

What could have been

Gosden was left to contemplate what might have been after withdrawing odds-on favourite Golden Horn due to the ground and finishing up with the second and third.

"We were forced a bit wide and that cost us in the end but that`s racing," he said. "We had the lead but Postponed came back and nailed us on the line. It`s a re-run of the Hardwicke but without a hard-luck story.

"We weren`t sure about the ground for him [Eagle Top] but he handled it, the winner handled it and so did Romsdal, who ran a blinder.

"I can be nothing but happy with both horses. Eagle Top will go straight to the Arc with nothing in between, maybe just a racecourse gallop. Romsdal is more a Prix Royal-Oak type."

Bans for jockeys

There was a subplot to the fascinating duel as the stewards dished out bans to Atzeni and Dettori.

Atzeni was given six days (August 8-13) for using his whip above the permitted level and down the shoulder in the forehand position on three occasions. Dettori received a four-day suspension (August 8-11) for using whip above the permitted level.


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