The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by Sony) is Europe’s championship race over one mile and presents the perfect opportunity for the brilliant three-year-old colt, Makfi, to crown his outstanding season in style.
Trained in France by Mikel Delzangles, Makfi may have only raced five times to date, but he has already left an indelible impression by winning four of those races in deeply impressive style, including a decisive victory in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in May.
His only defeat came here in the St James’s Palace Stakes at the Royal Meeting in June when he was found to be sick afterwards. He returned to the track at Deauville two months later in France’s premier mile race, the Prix Jacques Le Marois, where he defeated the outstanding mare Goldikova with a scintillating display.
If he can repeat that performance this afternoon, Christophe Soumillon’s mount will surely land the £150,000 first prize and see his name added to the race’s glittering roll of honour, where he would join his illustrious grandsire, Dubai Millennium.
His main opponent is last year’s winner, Rip Van Winkle. The top class, Aidan O’Brien-trained four-year-old has already taken the Juddmonte International at York this season and Ascot’s stiff mile suits him well. Johnny Murtagh, who has won five races on him, will be looking to exploit any chinks in Makfi’s armour.
Frankie Dettori’s mount, Poet’s Voice, has been improving steadily and could pose a threat, while Beethoven, Hearts of Fire, Red Jazz, Bushman and Air Chief Marshall are all talented colts in their own right.
Makfi is a very worthy favourite but he will be thoroughly tested, as one would expect in the outstanding mile race of the European season for which the winner earns automatic entry to the top mile race in the USA, the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on 6 November.
“Win and You’re In” is the title of that promotion. “Win and you’re Europe’s champion miler” is what’s at stake for Makfi.