The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes is one of the highlights of the flat season but, at the time of writing, it is unsure whether the rains will arrive to allow Cracksman to take his chance for John Gosden.
Clerk-of-the-Course Chris Stickels was interviewed on Racing UK ahead of the first race on Friday and suggested the Met Office had issued a weather warning for the area with isolated thunderstorms expected. They are reportedly hit and miss, however, and the ground could be good to firm, good or even on the soft side of good for the Ascot showpiece.
There is only one three-year-old in the field and Rostropovich (25/1) improved when second in the Irish Derby last time. That is solid form but I feel Crystal Ocean (3.40) is the one to beat and he can maintain his unbeaten record this season stepping back up to Group 1 company.
The selection (9/4 with BetVictor) finished second in a high-class renewal of the St Leger back in September and clocked a good time when easily winning the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal meeting last month.
Poet’s Word has won both starts over 10f this summer but he was no match for Hawkbill in Meydan at today’s 12f trip at the end of March and I must confess to being surprised that Poet’s Word heads the market at 2/1 with BetVictor.
Angel’s Hideaway finished runner up in the Gp2 Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes, but she was beaten 7l and the form doesn’t look anything special with the 5th home La Pelosa a bitter disappointment earlier in the week.
Royal Intervention (1.50) made most to easily land a listed contest on the July course and I feel she can build on that run for Ed Walker with Gerard Mosse again in the plate. The filly may have most to fear from the once-raced Scintillating who lived up to her name when winning a Newbury maiden on debut. Note both fillies are unproven on ground other than good to firm.
The Blue and white colours of Brighton owner Tony Bloom did us a favour courtesy of Stratum last weekend and the hope is that Flaming Spear (3.00) can maintain the owner’s rich vein of form in the valuable 7f handicap. The selection (10/1 with BetVictor) ran a pleasing race when fifth in the Hunt Cup on his seasonal reappearance and the drop back to 7f should not inconvenience this strong-travelling sort.
The selection is drawn in stall 19 of 29 and the hope is there is plenty of pace on the stands’ side. Note BetVictor are paying 1/5th odds 5 places on the race.
At the time of writing York had received 10mls of rain on Friday morning today and I must give Elarqam (3.15) another chance on a track that he made a winning debut here back in September.
The form of the selection’s Guineas’ fourth – running on – is the best piece of form on offer and he races as if this step up in trip should suit. One must forgive his Irish Guineas run at the end of May, but connections have always felt he was top-class. The selection is 7/4 with BetVictor and receives 6lbs and more from his older rivals.
Get Knotted (2.05) has won the last two renewals of the opening 7f Handicap and he is taken to land the hat-trick (11/4 at BetVictor) for Michael Dods and Callum Rodriquez who takes off a valuable 3lbs. The lightly-raced Godolphin 5-y-old Culturati – who holds an entry in next weekend’s Stewards’ Cup – is a well-bred son of Dubawi who will appreciate the forecast good ground and looks the big danger.
Slunovrat (4.25) was an impressive winner over C&D a couple of years ago and looked as good as ever when scoring at Nottingham on slow ground from a 4lbs lower mark back in May. I am a big fan of trainer David Menuisier although the 7-y-old will need a career best to score in this company.
I felt Naqaawa (5.00) improved for the step up to 10f last time and this lightly-raced filly gets the vote in the fillies’ handicap for Owen Burrows who has had such a good season.
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