King Of Steel is set to have his credentials tested over 10 furlongs following his third-placed finish in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Roger Varian’s Derby runner-up headed to Ascot for a rematch with his Epsom conqueror Auguste Rodin on the back of an impressive victory over course and distance in the King Edward VII Stakes at the Royal meeting.
The Amo Racing-owned colt was sent off the 9-2 second-favourite at the Berkshire track and although faring better than Aidan O’Brien’s dual Classic winner who disappointed, the son of Wootton Bassett was unable to reel in the winner Hukum and runner-up Westover despite travelling powerfully into the home straight.
A drop back in trip is now on the cards and with entries for both the Juddmonte International Stakes at York (August 23) and Leopardstown’s Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes (September 9), there are plenty of big-race options available to the strapping colt, who could quickly provide his owners with more big-race glory after Bucanero Fuerte secured a first UK and Irish Group One victory in the Phoenix Stakes.
“King Of Steel is in good form and Roger is very happy with him,” said Tom Pennington, racing and operations manager for Amo.
“We’re undecided where we will go at the minute and we’ve got a lot of decisions to make.
“He’s in the Juddmonte, he’s entered in the Irish Champion and we put him in the Champion Stakes at Ascot the other day and I think we believe now that 10 furlongs is his trip. He’s not a slow horse by any means.”
A trip to Dublin for Irish Champions Weekend would give King Of Steel an additional two weeks to recover from his Ascot exertions and is slated as the slight favourite at this stage.
And the feeling within the camp is a truly-run race over a mile and a quarter is where he will be seen at the peak of his powers having just faded in the closing stages of the King George.
“All options are open and we need to speak to Roger,” continued Pennington. “At this stage I would say we will probably be leaning towards the Irish Champion Stakes.
“I think we got away with it at Royal Ascot, but as you saw he was keen early in the King George. You could argue coming round into the straight he was the last horse off the bridle and just flattened out the last furlong, Kevin (Stott) said he was running on fumes.
“I think a strongly-run 10 furlongs with an end-to-end gallop is where you will really see him at his best.”