Matt Chapman | King George VI preview
Grundy, Mill Reef, Shergar, Dancing Brave, Montjeu and Galileo – just some of the great winners of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
A race so steeped in history, and one we are all set for – and all pumped up for – after our great July Cup success with Lethal Force – once again this weekend.
Of course, not every renewal can be a great one, and in recent years the clash of the generations has not been as frequent as we might hope.
But the 2013 King George VI Stakes is not to be sniffed at, despite the loss of multiple Group 1 winner St Nicholas Abbey to injury earlier in the week.
Clearly the best horse in the race is Cirrus des Aigles, but he will be the first I rule out. It’s always dangerous going against a red-hot favourite, but I am, for four main reasons.
- After injury he has to prove he’s at his best.
- He is a better horse at 10 furlongs.
- He would prefer softer ground, although rain is forecast
- His price is too short – so there are risks at a short price.
I anticipate a strong pace despite the small field, with Universal and Ektihaam both natural, free-racing front runners taking them along. I’d be surprised if either was good enough to win, actually I’d be disappointed if they were, so that’s three down and four to go.
Trading Leather is interesting. Three-year-olds can win the King George, as Nathaniel, Galileo and Alamshar have shown in recent times. He improved to win the Irish Derby after a step up in trip – but he wasn’t bad at a mile, finishing third in the Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Jim Bolger’s colt wants fast ground, so conditions should be OK although it would be better if the ground dried out more. Hillstar is progressive – a bit like Conduit who won this race for Stoute – but I wonder whether he will have the pace. He might!
The value rests with the Andreas Wohler-trained Novellist – who will be ridden by man-of-the-moment Johnny Murtagh. He’s a Group 1 winner, has form which ties in with the great Danedream, stays well and loves good ground. Come on the Germans!
For many the big betting race of the day is the International Stakes (3.15), and I think I’ve got a big-priced fancy well worth a look.
Loving Spirit was 16-1 when 2nd to Jack Dexter at Ascot in October, was 16-1 when only beaten 4 3/4l in the Victoria Cup and 12-1 when beaten 2 3/4l in the Buckingham Palace Stakes.
He’s knocking at the door in these big handicaps and a mark of 94 remains very workable. He’s worth an each-way bet at about 16/1 with Robert Tart taking off 5lb. Yeeehaaa!