Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Ascot and York on Saturday. View selections below.
TELESCOPE (3.50) can follow up his scintillating Royal Ascot romp by scooping the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes for Sir Michael Stoute. The master trainer has saddled five winners of the great midsummer showdown, most recently with Conduit and Harbinger, the pair landing back-to-back victories in 2009/10. Telescope follows the same path as Harbinger having run away with the Hardwicke Stakes at the royal fixture and will be very hard to beat granted decent ground. Oaks heroine Taghrooda adds significant interest as she boldly goes where so many Classic-winning fillies of the distant past have gone before and failed, including the magnificent Oh So Sharp and Sun Princess.
Running a three-year-old filly is virtually unheard of in modern times but, in receipt of her 15lb sex/age allowance from the older colts, John Gosden’s imperious Epsom scorer won’t go down without a fight. Gosden landed the 2011 King George with three-year-old colt Nathaniel and takes the same King Edward VII route with Eagle Top, subject to safe ground conditions. Santa Anita scorer Magician would welcome a slick surface, along with French raider Flintshire, Eclipse hero Mukhadram and last year’s Irish Derby winner Trading Leather. Lady Cecil’s popular Noble Mission and Gosden’s leading St Leger hope Romsdal add lustre to a superb renewal, but Telescope looks a worthy favourite around 9-4 judged on his seven-length Royal Ascot victory parade. Bring it on!
BELGIAN BILL (3.15) endured a nightmare trip in last month’s Royal Hunt Cup (seventh) but compensation awaits in the Longines International. George Baker’s gelding boasts an impressive Ascot cv, having landed the 2013 Hunt Cup and running third to Gabriel’s Lad in the Victoria Cup over this furlong shorter trip. Belgian Bill is now 8lb better off with Gabriel’s Lad and he holds fourth home Ayaar on identical terms. High numbers held sway in the big handicaps over the straight course at Royal Ascot, so stall 29 looks a good pitch compared to those drawn by 2012 International/2014 Hunt Cup hero Field Of Dream (4), Ayaar (7) and Gabriel’s Lad (8). Ryan Moore has looked an irresistible force in recent weeks, so his booking can only be judged as a bonus. The draw has probably also been kind to well-touted Horsted Keynes (25), Abseil (24) and Bronze Angel (28) and they are also on a rather long ‘shortlist’.
The last five International winners have returned SPs of 33-1, 25-1, 16-1, 14-1 and 40-1 and punters looking for a lively outsider might consider Hawkeyethenoo, an emphatic winner of the 2011 Victoria Cup over course/distance. The former Stewards’ Cup victor has a good track record and is drawn high in box 22.
Some of the top lady amateur riders get the opportunity to strut their stuff on the big stage in the 13-runner Longines Handicap and KARAKA JACK (4.25) catches the eye on his first outing for Jim Goldie. Having been campaigned mostly over longer trips this season by previous handler Dandy Nicholls, Karaka Jack makes his second appearance in this race, having finished second 12 months ago off a 7lb higher mark. Carol Bartley is a former multiple lady amateur champion, when probably better known then as Carol Williams, and is still riding at the top of her game. The stable is in grand fettle, with veteran Nanton justifying favouritism in some style at Doncaster on Thursday evening and Karaka Jack could upset some better fancied rivals.
Skybet sponsor a terrific card at York where MUTHMIR (3.30) has decent prospects of landing their 20-runner Dash. William Haggas’ sprinter pulled too hard at Newcastle on Plate day but still gave useful Tatlisu a scare. Tropics, runner-up in this month’s July Cup, lifted this prize last year and punters need to be looking for a horse on the upgrade. With that initial run under his belt, progressive Muthmir can see off bang-in-form Line Of Reason and Kimberella.
Saeed Bin Suroor likes to target the Skybet York Stakes and WINDHOEK (2.55) can make it a hat-trick of recent stable victories. The Cape Cross colt has twice had a rear view of useful stablemate French Navy this season but appreciated the slight drop in class when beating Amralah in a Listed event at Sandown three weeks ago. Windhoek is a model of consistency and just gets the vote over Shiekhzayedroad and Danadana in a tight affair.
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