Postponed to miss King George at Ascot with illness

Andrea Atzeni guides Postponed to victory in Dubai in March
Andrea Atzeni and Postponed had two victories over 12 furlongs in Dubai in March

Favourite Postponed has been ruled out of defending his King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes title at Ascot on Saturday because of illness.

Trainer Roger Varian said the horse did not show his usual zest after a workout on Wednesday morning.

"We will let the horse recover from this setback before making a plan of where he runs next," he said.

Postponed's absence means Dartmouth, owned by the Queen, may be favourite in the race named after her parents.

Varian said the five-year-old's withdrawal was a "huge blow" to owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid and all of the trainer's team.

"While this setback is only minor, it does rule him out of his assignment at the weekend and he will undertake a brief period of recovery before he returns to full work," he added.

"As is always the case, the interests of the horse must come first. If he is not 100%, the only sensible thing to do is not to run."

The Queen, who watched Dartmouth win the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, has only won Saturday's race once, with Aureole 62 years ago.

She is not expected to be back at the Berkshire track on Saturday due to another commitment in Scotland.

Dartmouth, the mount of Olivier Peslier for trainer Sir Michael Stoute, was added to the £1.15m race as a late entry on Monday at a cost of £75,000.

Stoute is seeking a record sixth victory in the Group One contest.

Rivals in the mile-and-a-half race are set to include Highland Reel, trained by Aidan O'Brien, who was beaten by a head by Dartmouth at Royal Ascot.

Another potential contender, Hawkbill, was ruled out earlier in the week.