Who rode Harbinger in the King George?
According to Timeform, Harbinger remains the co-eighth highest rated Flat horse since ratings were first published in 1948. Indeed, his Timeform Annual Rating of 140 – albeit adjudged, effectively, on just race – was the equivalent of that achieved by Shergar, Dancing Brave and Shergar.
A son of Dansili, whose progeny typically progess extremely well, Harbinger won two of his five starts as a 3-year-old, including the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood, but did not reach the peak of his powers until his 4-year-old campaign, in 2010. That season, he reappeared with an impressive, 3-length win in the John Porter Stakes at Newbury, followed up in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester and completed a hat-trick in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Having been ridden, exclusively, by Ryan Moore on his first eight starts, Harbinger was passed over by his regular jockey on his first attempt at Group 1 level, in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. Perhaps understandably, Moore, who chose to ride his Derby-winning stable companion, Workforce, instead, with French jockey Olivier Peslier picking up the spare ride on Harbinger.
Some ‘spare’ it proved, too. Sent off at 4/1 second favourite behind Workforce, Harbinger was held up fourth of the six runners in the early stages, but was travelling best of all turning for home and when he ranged alongside his toiling rivals at the two-furlong marker the race was all but over. In the closing stages, he cruised clear to beat the Irish Derby winner, Cape Blanco by a record 11 lengths.