There is pattern racing around the UK on Saturday with Ascot’s huge midsummer feature, the King George, taking place at 3.35 and featuring dual Oaks heroine Enable. Top class racing is also featured at York while Newcastle look for another sell out on what is Ladies’ Day.
The main contenders for the feature races across the card are:
1.50 Ascot – Princess Margaret Juddmonte Stakes, 6f 2yo Fillies’ Group 3
The unbeaten Mayson filly deserves her place in this field, especially as we haven’t gotten to the bottom of her yet. Conditions are in her favour and a big race is on the cards.
Mistress Of Venice
Ran well on soft ground at York back in May but that was over the minimum trip and I can’t help feeling she’d want it a bit faster.
Mark Johnston’s assistant, and son, is so bullish about his filly that he has labelled her “the best 2yo filly in the UK”. That’s a very bold claim, though the down side of having been beaten by Ballydoyle starlets Clemmie and September is that we have seen the best of her.
This is the unknown quantity among the principals having won just a maiden at HQ, albeit a valuable and very competitive one. She may have been on the wrong part of the track for most of that race too meaning the performance was likely much better than the bare result.
Although I would love the opportunity to wait until there is a settled pattern in the betting to see if she is supported significantly, a chance is taken that SPRING COSMOS was better even that it seemed on debut and can take a big step forward here. The unbeaten filly Dance Diva is next best ahead of Nyaleti who for me has been just ever so slightly flattered.
3.05 Newcastle – Beeswing Handicap, 7f
Versatile and likes it here, should be high enough in the weights though you would have thought.
Brian Ellison’s horses should always be watched at Newcastle where he loves to land a gamble or two and this former Gosforth Park Cup winner is bang in with a chance. He was a close second here last year over C&D and a close second last time out over 6f here on Plate Day.
Another versatile sort and comes with some sort of a chance, maybe needs to drop a pound or two in the handicap.
Although his two all-weather wins have come at Lingfield he clearly likes a synthetic surface and may get back to his best around here. If so we’ll be encountering an improving horse who may have a couple of pounds in hand on this sort of surface.
Second in a small race at Ayr but this is much more competitive.
Runs pretty consistently on the turf without winning. AW tried here but others are definitely preferred.
A competitive handicap and although Brian Ellison would love to win it, his Northgate Lad may just about have to play second fiddle to HORROOB who can resume his progression now switched back to the sand.
3.15 York – York Stakes, 1m2f Group 2
David Simcock’s improving 4yo ran just behind Autocratic at Sandown back in May before a solid run behind Hawkbill at HQ. Very good form, even for this level and must be on the premises.
Doesn’t have Ryan Moore this time, but can confirm placings with Algometer given his profile as that of an improving type, so long as the ground isn’t too much of a negative.
May like the forecast rain on Friday evening and could go well upped in trip. Probably a little better than his official rating.
Consistent front runner who should appreciate this track. They’ll do well not to let him get away from them in the straight.
As long as the ground is OK, AUTOCRATIC can take another step forward and may confirm places with Algometer. The softer the better for Hathal who also has a chance, as does front runner Success Days.
3.35 Ascot – King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, 1m4f Group 1
Ultra-consistent multiple Group 1 winner and defending champion here. He’s a fighter so will not give up his crown easily, though despite his admirable consistency his mark of 123 is spot on and while it makes him very good, it also makes him very beatable.
Teammate of Highland Reel, as well as his brother, and is a real up and comer in these ranks. Won the Hardwicke well over C&D at the Royal meeting but had reached that sort of level before when runner-up to Harzand in last year’s Irish Derby so may not be set for tons of improvement. O’Brien may squeeze just a little extra out of him this time.
The forecast slower ground is ideal for this one, who is a proper Group 1 performer given the right underfoot conditions. He shot home on yielding ground in Dubai back in March and ran extremely well here twice over 1m2f on good/good-to-soft ground too. Connections seem bullish so a big run is expected.
Well fancied for last year’s Derby, taken to Santa Anita for the Breeders Cup and eventually confirming his big reputation when winning the Eclipse three weeks ago mean he brings proper Group 1 form into this. He’s by Galileo, out of an Oaks winner and has won over this trip yet you can’t help thinking he is a better horse at 1m2f. He can come on again but may just be outfought by crack 1m4f older horses.
Regally bred, this one brings the Derby form into the race though the form isn’t terrific this year. That, plus the fact he was actually back in fifth at Epsom means he probably isn’t good enough to win this but after his 1m2f Group 3 win at Royal Ascot he deserves to take his chance.
A fantastic Oaks winner and looked even better arguably when taking the Irish equivalent so easily last time. She had been initially thought to be waiting for the Yorkshire Oaks next month but, such is her enthusiasm and health, connections have decided to take on the colts and the older horses for the first time.
Her sire, Nathaniel, was ultra-consistent and ran all of his best races on softer ground, something Enable has really for the first time here. She gets plenty of weight-for-age and fillies’ allowance and may put these to the sword.
Ratings for the big one:
123 Highland Reel
123 Jack Hobbs
John Gosden has won this race with an Oaks winner as recently as 2014 and knows what it takes. There is proper Group One form in the field, true, but so many of them are at a similar level and they can’t all be superstars, it’s simply not possible. With that in mind it seems there is more Group 1 quantity than quality and so ENABLE can use her true superstar ability to breeze past these with weight in hand.
4.10 Ascot – Pat Eddery Stakes, 7f 2yo Listed Race
Yet another Dubawi colt for Charlie Appleby to take care of and he does it so well. This one won a maiden last time but was all out to do it on fast ground and so not as much improvement as ideal may come forth.
Beaten favourite in Saint-Cloud last time but that wouldn’t put me off. Belongs at this level and must go well today.
Tigre Du Terre
Won well on debut at Ascot and on breeding probably wants this ground. Ryan Moore is in the saddle and there is plenty to get out of this horse.
Never discount a Mark Johnston type and this one seems to get better for racing, may just have a bit to find though on the likes of Tigre Du Terre.
We have no idea yet how good TIGRE DU TERRE is and it’ll be a surprise if he is not good enough to land this. Ghost Serge deserves another crack at this level while Being There will show improvement.