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King George head-to-heads: Crippled Royal Palace left Ribero for dead; The betting on Saturday's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes is dominated by Galileo and Fantastic Light. But will these two titans go on to fight out the finish? Starting today, Rodney Masters takes a look back at King Georges of the last 40 years which were billed as a match on paper . . .

Byline: Rodney Masters

IT WAS the year of Sir Ivor, acclaimed by Lester Piggott as the best he rode, but Vincent O'Brien's champion did not turn up for a race billed as a straight fight between dual Classic winner Royal Palace and a colt who had mastered Sir Ivor in the Irish Derby, Ribero.

Australian ace George Moore had won the previous year's 2,000 Guineas and Derby on Royal Palace, but a combination of factors, including a gang of his homeland punters reportedly placing him under severe pressure, and the unhappiness of wife Iris, who missed her grandiose home overlooking Sydney Harbour, meant his association with Noel Murless failed to survive beyond that season.

Indeed, Moore had gone missing during the latter part of that year-he was eventually tracked down in Paris.

He was replaced as Murless's No. 1 jockey by Sandy Barclay, a 19-year- old former champion apprentice.

The teenager excelled on Royal Palace, who was unbeaten during his four- year-old season, their wins including the Coronation Cup, Eclipse and, of course, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Barclay, now 58 and content in his hectic new life running a school and summer camp for foreign students near Ipswich, retains vivid memories of that July 27 at Ascot.

"Royal Palace was the ultimate racehorse, the perfect ride," he says. "He cruised along at Ascot and then, as always, produced a devastating burst of speed. No rival could cope with that. Most people will have forgotten by now that my colt finished the race on three legs."

Ribero had missed the Derby, and was beaten a long way by Connaught, representing the Royal Palace team, in Royal Ascot's King Edward VII Stakes. There was little to suggest that he was about to upstage 1-3 favourite Sir Ivor in the Irish Derby.

Liam Ward was under contract to ride O'Brien's runners in Ireland, and took over on Sir Ivor at The Curragh, leaving Piggott free to partner 100-6 shot Ribero, whom the jockey described as "big and temperamental".

Aware that stamina was Sir Ivor's one weakness, Piggott kicked on turning for home and won by two lengths.

In the King George, Ribero disgraced himself by dumping Piggott on the way to post. Taking up the lead with less than half a mile to run, Piggott was a sitting target for Royal Palace, who unleashed a challenge that swamped his big rival in the final furlong.

Barclay's timing was faultless as the injured Royal Palace then bravely held the late thrust of the French pair Felicio, up the far rail, and Topyo-the previous year's shock Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner-by half a length and a short head.

Ribero simply failed to live with their pace and faded to finish five lengths adrift of Topyo.

Sadly, Royal Palace was lame on his near-fore and did not race again. Barclay remembers: "He broke down inside the final furlong, and he was very brave to keep going. It was a sad end to a wonderful career."

Ribero went on to emulate his brother Ribocco at Doncaster by completing the Irish Derby-St Leger double.

CAPTION(S):

The odds-on favourite Royal Palace (right) scrapes home in the 1968 King George from French pair Felicio (left) and Topyo. Ribero, the second favourite, trails home fourth, beaten nearly six lengths
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 22, 2001
Words:555
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