King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Group1) 1m4f Saturday

ascot king george saturday.jpgThis middle distance, mid summer highlight of the racing calendar, was first run in 1951,  as a Top level contest open to all ages. Historically the classic generation, with 30 victories have had the better of the argument, (including last year with the John Gosden trained Enable) but with only the five wins since the dawn of the new millennium their star has become slightly tarnished. Training honours, with an impressive five victories apiece, are shared by Saeed Bin Suroor, and veteran Newmarket Maestro, Sir Michael Stoute, and the latter, with the two market leaders, Poets Word and Crystal Ocean, in his care at the Freemason Lodge Academy, must fancy his chances of landing a sixth success.

Poet’s Word has won six of his fifteen starts, accumulating an impressive, near £2,000,000 in win and place prize money but has only managed to bag a single top level success. However that was achieved in his last race, the 10f Group1 Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot where he put the 2/5 fav, Cracksman firmly in his place. A slight concern is his lack of success at the top level over Saturday’s trip, but his canny trainer is in no doubt that he will be equally effective over a mile and a half, and a quick glance at the 5yo’s pedigree would suggest that he might even improve for it. By Poets Voice, out of the Nashwan mare, Whirlybird, who was a winner herself at 11f, and is the dam of two animals who were best at two miles. Poets Word is a late maturing animal, the type The Master Of Freemason Lodge excels with, and a repetition of his Ascot effort will make him hard to beat.

His stable companion, Crystal Ocean has yet to score a top level success, but the 4yo put up a tremendous effort in his sole attempt at a Group1, when going down by a battling 1/2L to Capri in last year’s St Leger. crystal oceanThe son of Sea The Stars (pictured) may have been found out by the trip at Doncaster, but back at Saturday’s distance, over which he’s won on three occasions, including last time out, when taking the Group2 Hardwicke Stakes at The Royal Meeting (over Saturday’s course and distance Good/Firm) is bound to prove a very live contender. Beautifully bred, he is a half brother to the Group2 winning mare, Crystal Capella, and the Group1 winning stallion, Hillstar. All in all he has plenty to recommend him at the weekend.

With five entries at the time of writing, Aidan O’Brien is mob handed but if the markets have got it right, his best chance of landing a 5th win in the race lies with his improving, 3yo, Kew Gardens. Always well thought of at Ballydoyle, he finished of his 2yo career in some style, beating the subsequent Derby runner up, Dee Ex Bee by 3 1/2L in The Zetland Stakes at Newmarket last October over 1m2f. Disappointing in his first four races this term, he came good at the fifth time of asking, winning the 14f Group2 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot by 4 3/4L and a neck from his stable companions Southern France and Nelson. The drop back to 12f proved no obstacle next time, when he won the Group1 Grand Prix De Paris by 1 1/4L from Neufbosc, with Dee Ex Bee 4 1/4L back in 3rd. The son of Galileo is improving at a rate of knots and it wouldn’t take a lot more to see him in the winners enclosure on Saturday.

Despite winning the Group1, Prix Ganay on his reappearance with his head in his chest, the John Gosden trained Cracksman has looked less than enthusiastic in his last two races. While it is dangerous to dismiss such a talented animal, the Gosden yards best chance of landing a 4th King George may lie with the 4yo filly Coronet. A daughter of Dubawi, she performed with plenty of credit as a 3yo, but her two runs this campaign would suggest that she is an improved filly. She won the Group2 Middleton Stakes at York on her reappearance over 10f, and four weeks later only lost out by a nose in a bobbing finish to the Andre Fabre trained Waldgeist in the 12f Group1 Grand Prix De Saint-Cloud on Good/soft ground. Fabre has withdrawn his talented colt from Saturday’s contest because of the likelihood of a fast surface, but the Gosden filly will relish a return to such ground.

Selection : Kew Gardens
E.W.          : Coronet

John Gray

Betfred Rose of Lancaster Stakes Odds Tips

Betfred Rose of Lancaster Stakes Odds Tips

Sir Michael Stoute’s Arab Spring is fancied to go  close this weekend in Haydock’s showpiece race.


Betfred Rose of Lancaster Stakes Group3 10 1/2f Haydock Saturday
– First run in 1986, Saturday will see the 28th renewal (no race 2002) and the classic generation, with sixteen victories, including last year, when Roger Varian’s Intilaaq won at the prohibitive odds of 1/3, have had much the best of the argument. Sir Michael Stoute, who is enjoying something of a renaissance after a number of poor seasons, has been the most successful handler with three wins, interestingly, all with older animals. Both Mark Johnston and Saeed bin Suroor have both hit the back of the net twice.

The sole Stoute representative this time is the 6yo entire, Arab Spring, and it is intriguing that the yard is persevering with this clearly fragile horse. He has had only the eight runs in his entire career, the most recent 436 days ago when he finished a neck behind Western Hymn in a Sandown Group3. He is an animal that clearly goes well fresh, and a repeat of last terms first time out performance when he won convincingly from that good yardstick Pether’s Moon, in a Newbury Group3, would see him go close.

Last year the Oddsguru went for Roger Varian’s Intilaaq.

The Mark Johnston trained 5yo Fire Fighting ran a brave race last week at Goodwood holding on by a neck in a Cl2 handicap off a mark of 102. Fire Fighting, like the men who do, is a tough and brave individual, and is clearly in good heart, but he is fully exposed, and it is hard to see where the further 12lbs improvement necessary to win this is to come from.

The Godolphin operation has won this twice before, with the 4yo’s Hunters Light, (2012) and Tamayaz, (1996). They have two entered this time, Basem and Scottish, and their best chance would seem to lie with the latter, a 4yo gelding by Teofilo who looks very progressive. He was having only his ninth outing when comfortably taking a 10f listed race at Newbury on Gd/Fm three weeks ago, where he looked well up to Group3 level. He had finished 3rd on his reappearance seven weeks earlier, when beaten a neck and 4 1/2L by Time Test and Western Hymn, which does give him plenty to find with Arab Spring, but judging by the Newbury run, plenty of progress has been made in the meantime, and he is short listed.

John Gosden’s 3yo gelding Foundation was sold as a yearling for the considerable sum of €190,000, and it looked money well spent when he won his first three races as a 2yo, including at Group2 level. He was slightly disappointing when only managing second on Gd /Sft on his reappearance over a mile, but, stepped up to 10 1/2f in the Dante at York on faster ground, he did well to finish a neck and 1 1/2L behind the top class pair Wings of Desire and Deauville. Sent off the 4/1 fav on soft ground for the French Derby he trailed in last of the sixteen runners so does seem to need decent ground. Given good or faster ground at the weekend this two times course winner would be dangerous to ignore, particularly as he avoids any penalties for his 2yo success at group 2 level.

Roger Charlton runs the highly consistent 4yo colt by Galileo, Decorated Knight. He has never been out of the first four in all ten racecourse appearances, winning four of them. He was particularly impressive last time in a Leopardstown Group3 (1m1f Gd/Fm) 23 days ago when firmly putting Royal Hunt Cup winner Portage in his place. He does have to carry a 4lbs penalty for the Leopardstown win, but looks a highly progressive type and it will come as no surprise to see him competing at a higher level in the future.

Richard Fahey’s 7yo veteran Gabrial has been plying his trade at Group1 and 2 level over a mile, and considering the standard of the opposition has not disgraced himself. He finished 5th, in the Group1 Sussex Stakes last week just 3 1/2L behind the best miler around, The Gurkha, and in his previous run, a Group2 at Ascot, he was only 2 3/4L and a short head behind Mutakayyef and last week’s impressive winner of the Group2 Qatar Lennox Stakes, Dutch Connection. He has been campaigned over further in the past without success but perhaps now a step up in trip might just suit this enigmatic type.

David Lanigan steps his 3yo handicapper Gershwin up to Group class for the first time and he does have a progressive profile. He won off a mark of 83 in May and was probably a tad unlucky to be caught in the last stride off 93 six weeks later. Considerably more is required at the weekend but this very well bred Colt might just be up to it. By prolific winning sire Shamardal, his listed winning dam is a half sister to the Group1 and 2 winning Giofa, and to the listed winner Gomati, so it would be no great surprise to see Lanigan’s Colt make significant progress.

 Selection: Decorated Knight. (if abs. Scottish)

E.W.   : Arab Spring.