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King George: Arc hero Torquator Tasso aiming to fly flag for Germany at Ascot against Irish Derby hero Westover

Torquator Tasso is out to be the third successful German raider in the last 11 runnings of the King George at Ascot; Marcel Weiss' star was a shock 80/1 of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe last year; watch the race live on Sky Sports Racing on Saturday at 3.35pm

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Germany's 80/1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Torquator Tasso heads to Ascot on Saturday looking to cause another major upset in the King George, live on Sky Sports Racing.

"I don't think the Muhlheim racecourse has ever seen anything like this," said a bemused Marcel Weiss on Monday.

Such is the attraction of last year's shock Arc hero Torquator Tasso, several of Britain's finest racing media purposely flew over to Germany this week to document his final workout ahead of his bid for Saturday's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes title, live on Sky Sports Racing.

The Muhlheim racecourse, which isn't far from the international business and financial centre Dusseldorf, was founded in 1863 but had to wait until 2021 and Torquator Tasso's surprise victory in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe before the world took notice of its existence.

Watch the King George on Sky Sports Racing

Watch the King George on Sky Sports Racing

Don't miss the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes from Ascot on Saturday 23 July on Sky Sports Racing

The now five-year-old Torquator Tasso is the undisputed star at the track, home also to 10 trainers who each morning work their runners on the sand or the turf tracks inside the course. And he certainly knows it.

Torquator Tasso is not a difficult horse to train, but like every good horse, he has his habits and above all a strong character, which was in evidence once more on his first start in Baden-Baden this year.

His trainer Weiss, who arguably knows him best, had warned the public that he might not produce a strong run on his seasonal reappearance, however, he was a strongly backed favourite.

On the day, true to past form, he decided that rather than exert himself, he wanted to have a good look around the racecourse and he trundled over the finish line 18 lengths behind Alter Adler.

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Torquator Tasso, near side, wins the Arc at ParisLongchamp
Image: Torquator Tasso beats (right to left) Hurricane Lane and Tarnawa at ParisLongchamp

"Everyone was very disappointed, except me, the trainer. I told everyone that he always needs that first run, that the first time out is just a way for him to wake up," says Weiss with a smile.

"I have had him for three years now and I know how he ticks. You can't force him or train it out of him. You just have to accept it that he is like that and train him accordingly. And you saw that the next time out in Hamburg (won by three and a half lengths), he was a different horse."

Weiss, who worked for former German Champion trainer Heinz Jentzsch before setting up on his own at the end of 2019, has steadily climbed the ladder and established himself as one of Germany's most successful trainers.

With "only" 54 horses in his boxes, he currently has a strike rate of 16 per cent, while 53 per cent of his runners have been placed either second or third.

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Jockey PJ McDonald says getting the call to ride Pyledriver from trainers William Muir and Chris Grassick in Saturday's King George at Ascot is a 'confidence-booster'.

This season, he also had his first runner in America, which was an immediate success thanks to Loft who lifted the Grade Two Belmont Gold Cup Stakes.

Coming to England for the King George will be another first for him, as well as for his jockey Rene Piechulek.

He is not worried though about the unknown and continues: "I have watched a lot of reruns of the King George and I think the track will suit Torquator Tasso. He is used to long straights. I mean he ran at ParisLongchamp, which is not so dissimilar, so I'm not worried about him adapting to the track."

In fact, very little seem to bother the trainer who seems very calm and collected with only a few days to go before the event. "I'm not nervous," he declares. "At least not yet. Talk to me on the day and it might be different, but right now, it's business as usual.

"Torquator Tasso did his final piece of work on Monday morning, when he worked over a little more than 2000 metres together with his usual leader. We were very pleased with that gallop. He was ridden by Rene Piechulek who was also very happy with him."

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Jockey James Doyle will speak to David Egan after replacing his weighing room colleague on Mishriff for Saturday's King George following the conclusion of Egan's retainer deal with owner Prince Faisal.

However, just as he did earlier on in the year, he warns: "The horse is still not 100 per cent ready, as he always progresses throughout the season."

Maybe that explains why the chestnut is only a 14/1 shot for the midsummer showdown at Ascot, a race that in recent years has been won by German Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Danedream and German horse of the year Novellist.

"Following his victory in the Hansa Preis at Hamburg, I also briefly considered the Grosser Preis von Berlin for him," explains the trainer. "But he has won the Arc, so why shouldn't he run against the best horses?

"If he was placed in this race, it would go a long way when he is retired to stud at the end of this season. It would read better than a second or third place in Berlin, which is also something that could happen as you never know with races."

Only six horses have been confirmed for the King George and while he would have preferred a bigger field, he is not overly concerned about race tactics.

Torquator Tasso, nearside, beats Tarnawa and Hurricane Lane to the line
Image: Torquator Tasso will bid to become the third German winner of the Arc in the last 11 years

"In Hamburg they were also only six runners and he still won the race," he pursues. "Obviously, it would have been better if there were more runners, as you can then be sure of a nice pace, but I saw in Hamburg that he is no longer dependent on pace. He showed that he can react after a slow pace."

Torquator Tasso will leave Germany on Thursday evening to take the ferry on Friday. "He is used to travelling and loves it," Weiss explains. "If the temperatures had stayed high we might have changed our travel plans, but there is a bit of rain forecast and the temperatures are supposed to drop, so I'm not worried.

"The same goes for the ground at Ascot. I know that the best horses in the world run there and that they always look after the ground. I cannot imagine that the ground is going to be like the road."

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As to the competition, he says: "One doesn't have many horses in the yard, in fact there are not many horses in your life that can run in these races, so we are delighted and looking forward to Saturday.

"There is no doubt that those horses that have remained in the race are the strongest horses there are at the moment.

"The three-year-old Westover is a challenge. I was impressed as to how he won his races. Then there is Mishriff and Broome who look very strong.

Colin Keane celebrates Westover's victory in the Irish Derby
Image: Colin Keane keeps the ride on Irish Derby hero Westover

"For me, those three are the horses to beat. However, with six horses, everything is possible. But I cannot change anything about that, and we will see what happens when the starting gates open."

Regardless of what happens at Ascot on Saturday, Torquator Tasso's primary objective remains his Arc defence on the first Sunday in October.

Weiss concludes: "We have always said that the Arc remains his main target. After Ascot he will run once more in the Grosser Preis von Baden at the beginning of September and then he will return to Paris for the Arc.

"He is a horse that improves throughout the season, that grows stronger from race to race, but I am still very optimistic that he will run a great race on Saturday."

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