The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes is one of the great flat races of the season and for many the mid-season summer highlight. Run over the Derby distance of a-mile-and-a-half for three-year-olds and older no horse from the classic generation has won the race since Irish Derby winner Alamshar landed the prize back in 2003.
In the interim period few top class 3-year-olds have taken on their elders, although last year’s Derby winner Workforce bombed out against his stablemate Harbinger. Workforce showed that form to be all wrong when going on to win the Arc last autumn, and he is the one to beat again this year having lost nothing in defeat behind So You Think in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown over an inadequate 10 furlongs last time.
Ballydoyle are represented by Coronation Cup winner St Nicholas Abbey who landed that Group 1 prize despite not handling the Epsom undulations. Connections of the horse have always considered him to be top class but this is the acid test. The colt must improve again taking on Workforce with the ground likely to be just on the soft side of good.
Prior to his victory in the Eclipse So You Think had been turned over at long odds on by Godolphin’s Rewilding at Royal Ascot and that form at face value makes him the one to beat, but I’m not convinced we saw the best of So You Think on that occasion. Rewilding looks sure to appreciate the return to 12f and the Boys In Blue did us a favour with the heavily backed Blue Bunting in last weekend’s Irish Oaks.
This is a vintage renewal of the great race with three top class 4-y-olds representing the major powers in European flat racing going head-to-head; that said I have backed the 3-y-o Nathaniel (4.30) in receipt of 12lbs from his elders.
Good or softer ground is fundamental to the chances of the colt who was supplemented for the race earlier in the week when it became apparent that there was plenty of rain forecast in the build up to the race.
Beaten half a length by Frankel on his debut (the closest any horse has got to Cecil’s unbeaten superstar) he was a head behind the subsequent Derby runner up and Irish Derby winner Treasure Beach in the Chester Vase back in May on ground which was a shade too fast for the selection.
Bypassing Epsom on account of the prevailing underfoot conditions Nathaniel showed his class when landing the King Edward VII Stakes over today’s C&D in a time almost 2.5 seconds quicker than that taken by the highly regarded winner of the King George V Handicap the previous day Brown Panther.
There is likely to be plenty of pace in the race, with Godolphin running a pacemaker, which will suit the John Gosden trained runner and the hope is that he can stay on best of all in a race which hopefully will become a war of attrition. Having supported him at a bigger price when connections advised he would be added to the field he still merits consideration at 7/1 with victorchandler.com although it must be stressed this is the race of the season to date and for many it will be one just to watch and savour.
King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes; ew ¼ 1, 2: prices from
St Nicholas Abbey 2/1
Excellent Guest (3.50) looks to have as good a chance as any in the big betting race of the day the 7f Heritage Handicap having been repeatedly denied a run in the 32Red Bunbury Cup last time. A low draw does temper confidence somewhat given high numbers held sway for much of the time on the straight course at the Royal meeting last month. That said many of the fancied runners are drawn low and with George Margarson’s stable in such good form he can reward ew support at 8/1.
I have been waiting for Parlour Games (5.40) over 12f with a bit of cut in the ground for some time now and whatever the result of the big one I hope the day ends well for Frankie Dettori and Godolphin. The nap of the weekend ran a very good race on ground too quick at Sandown last time and, as long as the ground doesn’t dry out too much, I remain convinced that he is particularly well-handicapped off a mark of 85. The lightly-raced pair of Aiken and Mulaqen (trainer has won the race twice in last five years) are big dangers in a cracking finale but I can’t desert Parlour Games back over 12f on good or softer ground.
Having backed Gamilati for the 2012 1000 Guineas I am hoping for a big run from Russelliana (2.40) in the Princess Margaret Stakes given the selection finished behind my antepost pick in the Cherry Hinton at Newmarket last time. That was only her second start and she will get further in time but she may have run into something special on the July course last time and she ought to get back to winning ways.
There is an excellent card from York too and I think Dominant (3.05) can maintain his upward curve in the feature race despite having plenty to find with many of the principles on official figures. Another who needs significant ease in the ground any further rain would be a big plus for the 3-y-o who looked group class at Newmarket last time. It is a very good renewal with dual Champion Stakes winner Twice Over and the progressive Class Is Class in the field but the Roger Varian colt can make a seamless transition out of handicap company.
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