The countdown to the Spring Racing Carnival continues both locally and abroad, with two UK races this weekend that could have a significant bearing on who arrives in Melbourne later this year. The highlight of the international action is the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2400m) at Ascot on Saturday night (AET).

Headed by French hero Cirrus Des Aigles, the race features the reappearance of Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux who is being prepared for his third straight Spring Racing Carnival appearance.

The Group 2 York Stakes (2000m) is the other must watch race with Cox Plate invitee The Apache, clashing with rising star Mukahadram who has shot into Cox Plate calculations this season.

Following are the Australian broadcast times for the two races, together with comments from Racing Victoria’s International Recruitment Officer, Leigh Jordon, on who to watch from a Spring Carnival viewpoint;

  • York (UK) – G2 York Stakes (2080m) – Broadcast live on SKY 2 & SKY Racing World at 12.30am (AET) Sunday morning

Leigh Jordon’s Comment – Afsare ran second in this race last year and then made the trip to Australia for the Cox Plate but was unfortunately injured and unable to take his place in the field. This year’s running is a strong edition of the race. The Mike de Kock-trained The Apache is a Cox Plate invitee and hasn’t started since the Dubai Duty Free in March so it will be interesting to see how he has progressed. Mukhadram is Group 1 placed at his last two, has a high cruising speed and can kick strongly off a turn. For mine he would be an ideal Cox Plate horse so we’re watching him closely.

  •  Ascot (UK) – G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2400m) – Broadcast live on SKY 2 & SKY Racing World at 12.50am (AET) Sunday morning

Leigh Jordon’s Comment - This is a top quality Group 1 event as evidenced by last year’s win of Prix de l’Arc de Triopmhe champion Danedream. Cirrus des Aigles is the favourite, but I’ll be watching Red Cadeaux, who is the outsider of the field, ahead of his return to Melbourne, possibly for both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. Another interesting runner is Sheema Classic placegetter Very Nice Name as his connections have shown some interest in coming to Melbourne. Princess of Wales Stakes winner Universal could be a Spring contender and is another to watch closely.