07/23/2016 4:45PM

Ascot: Highland Reel earns berth in Breeders' Cup Turf

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Highland Reel had won a major race in North America, the Grade 1 Secretariat, and in Asia, where he captured the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase, and on Saturday he took down one of the most prestigious prizes in Europe when leading all the way under Ryan Moore in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Highland Reel gave Aidan O’Brien his fourth King George win and earned an automatic fees-paid berth into the Breeders’ Cup Turf through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In program, a berth he is likely to accept if all goes well through season’s end.

Highland Reel led all the way in the Secretariat and had the early lead in the Vase at Sha Tin before winning from third, and it was obvious from the start of the King George that he would dictate a slow tempo. Moore kept him in the clear while Highland Reel went along comfortably, and it wasn’t until only two of the race’s 12 furlongs remained that Highland Reel was asked at all. Wings of Desire, pulling 12 pounds from his elders as a 3-year-old, had tracked the pacesetter and made a move, but Highland Reel finished with good energy, and turned Wings of Desire away.

Dartmouth had beaten Highland Reel over soft ground at Ascot in the Hardwicke Stakes, but Highland Reel goes better on the firmer footing he found Saturday, and unlike many European horses has no issue making his own race.

While the winner performed admirably, this was far from a vintage renewal of the King George, and the heavy antepost favorite, Postponed, had to be withdrawn from the race earlier in the week because of an upper respiratory infection.

Highland Reel, a 4-year-old Irish-bred by Galileo out of the Danehill mare Hveger, won for the sixth time in 15 starts. Plans for his next race are uncertain.

Time Test edges Mondialiste in York

Two horses that raced in the Breeders’ Cup Mile last fall, Time Test and Mondialiste, slugged it out Saturday in the Group 2 York Stakes, with Time Test pulling away in the final half-furlong to win by three-quarters of a length.

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Mondialiste finished third in the BC Mile and Time Test was 10th, but that race was on soft autumn ground that Time Test dislikes, and the York was contested on the sort of good-to-firm going Time Test wants. The heavy favorite, Time Test looked a sure winner as he cruised up to the front without jockey Pat Smullen asking at all, but Mondialiste came down the outside and made Time Test work the final furlong. The top two were much the best, with Countermeasure more than three lengths back in third.

Time Test, a Juddmonte Farms homebred by Dubawi and out of the Dansili mare Passage of Time, won for the sixth time in 11 starts. Trained by Roger Charlton, Time Test is being aimed at the Group 1 International, which is run next month over the same course and 10 1/2-furlong distance.