The big race of the weekend is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. It should be a belter as some of the best horses take to the stage at Ascot.
The favourite is Enable, trained by John Gosden. She has been in imperious form this season, winning both the English and Irish Oaks. Bookies have priced her up as favourite primarily because she receives a healthy weight allowance from her older male rivals like Jack Hobbs and Highland Reel. I think she’s a very good horse, but this is a huge step up in task for her and you’d have to be a bit bonkers to think 5/4 is decent price.
Conversely, if she’s too short, then where is the value? You can make a case for a few of them.
I’ve always been a fan of Jack Hobbs, who did not appreciate the quick ground last time at the course. With the going a good deal slower for this race, he comes in to the equation if he can replicate the sort of performance that saw him in the winners’ enclosure at Meydan in March.
Ulysses ran very well to win the Coral Eclipse at Sandown, but he’s not guaranteed to love the softer conditions. The same could be said of Highland Reel, who has never won on ground slower than good. He’s a class act but that’s a worry if you’re considering backing him.
So, with Enable too short in price and various question marks about others towards the top of the market, I’m going to look for one at big odds, who might have half a chance.
And, there are a couple who fit the bill. My Dream Boat won the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Ascot last year on soft ground. He’s not run quite as well since, but I thought he ran a very good race at Saint Cloud last time and if he can build on that, he’s got an each-way chance at 28/1. The other is 20/1 chance Benbatl, who is potentially progressive. He ran well to win the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot, having also put in decent efforts in the Dante and the Derby. His pedigree would also suggest the ground shouldn’t be a problem either. We’ll throw those two darts and hope one of them hits the bullseye.
Over at the Knavesmire, The Sky Bet York Stakes is another competitive affair.
David O’Meara’s yard is in dreadful form, so I wouldn’t hold too much hope for Mondialiste, despite him being a really nice horse at his best.
William Haggas has his yard in really good form and he’s got two in this. Hathal is a pretty intriguing one at best odds of around 13/2. It was a promising return to finish third in the Summer Mile after a long time off. He could potentially come on for that run and I’ll have a wager on him. Haggas’ other one, Victory Bond, needs to find a fair bit to have a chance.
Autocratic is one of the favourites after winning the Brigadier Gerard at Sandown. He wouldn’t want the ground to get any softer, although if it did, that would certainly suit Success Days. All in all, a tough contest, but Hathal gets the nod.