Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with six to follow on Saturday at Ascot, Newmarket and York. View selections below
The presence of unbeaten Oaks winner Taghrooda (3.50) gives added spice to today’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes one of the great races of the flat season pitching the classic generation against their elders over the Derby/Oaks distance of a-mile-and-a-half. No three- year-old filly has won this mid-summer Group 1 event since French raider Pawneese back in 1976 and she had also previously won the Epsom classic. It may not have been a vintage classic that Taghrooda won last month but she was visually very impressive and she receives plenty of weight from the colts.
Eclipse winner Mukhradam has the plum draw and is likely to try and make all but this additional couple of furlongs is likely to find him out and a bigger danger must surely come from Hardwicke Stakes winner Telescope. Trained by Sir Michael Stoute the colt has his ideal conditions of 12f on fast ground and he was a facile winner at Royal Ascot although this looks a much stronger race. He must give 15lbs to the classic winner who bypassed the Irish Oaks last weekend for a crack at her seniors.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes: prices from BetVictor
Eagle Top 6/1
In the Princess Margaret I was taken with the Nottingham win of Explosive Lady on debut and it will be interesting to see if she attracts any market support upped in class. Back against her own sex Osaila (2.05) gets the vote, however, although she is likely to improve again stepped up in trip later in the year. The selection finished fifth at Royal Ascot in the Albany before scoring easily at Doncaster and she is in very capable hands.
The big betting race of the weekend is the International Stakes over 7f and BetVictor are betting five places on the event. Last month’s Royal Hunt Cup winner Field Of Dream won the corresponding race two years ago and is only 6lb higher than when scoring at the Royal meeting and he must go close.
In these big handicaps I often back one from each side of the track and have supported 20/1 Pastoral Player (stall one) and 12/1 Bronze Angel (stall 28) with marginal preference for the latter who returned to his very best when scoring at York last time. He carries a 3lb penalty for that success but would have to carry another 3lbs if the handicapper had his way.
In the finale Itsnowcato (5.00) has finished runner up in both starts since sent handicapping and can race from the same mark as at Hamilton last time. Dane O’Neil takes the mount and I would be disappointed if this lightly-raced sort wasn’t competitive back against his peers having taken on his elders last time.
At York I was disappointed with Secret Gesture last time despite winning and am surprised she is kept at 10f having looked to be crying out for a step up in trip when scoring at Nottingham. Long John (2.55) on the other hand looked like he needed further than a mile on his British debut and this former Australian Group One winner will be hard to beat if building on his reappearance.
Muthmir (3.30) has been raised 6lbs for finishing runner up on his belated comeback and is reported to need fast ground to be seen at his best. He was very keen on that occasion pulling hard and refusing to settle but, with that run behind him, he is taken to score for William Haggas.
Haggas also saddles Perfect Persuasion(3.20) at Newmarket and can make it third time lucky this season although she looks in need of a mile to me rather than today’s 7f trip. There is plenty of pace in the race, however, and she is given another chance despite being raised 3lbs for her last start.