With the possibility of an isolated thunderstorm hitting Ascot on Friday John Gosden has declared Cracksman for Saturday’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Aidan O’Brien’s Kew Gardens the notable absentee having scoped dirty the trainer announced.
If there was significant rain Cracksman would be a real player, but he will miss the race unless the rain arrives. He is a 3/1 shot at BetVictor behind 9/4 joint favourites Poets World and Crystal Ocean but do note there will be a significant Rule 4 if the Gosden-trained four-year-old misses the race.
There is also the possibility of storms hitting the Knavesmire and rain would certainly help the chances of Elarqam whose both juvenile successes were gained on good to soft ground. He remains a 7/4 chance with BetVictor for the York Stakes tomorrow.
Ascot stage the opening day of their two-day King George meeting today and do keep a close eye on the weather. The 2m Brown Jack handicap is a cracking race and Mancini (3.00) must have every chance of making all if getting his own way in front for Richard Kingscote who knows the progressive four-year-old so well.
The hope is that Kingscote can get the fractions right up front and defy an 8lbs rise for a facile Goodwood success when last seen almost seven weeks ago.
The listed Valiant Stakes for fillies and mares over a mile is the feature contest and this corresponding race has been won by the classic generation four times in the last five years and it is the three-year-olds who I think will hold sway today.
Preening finished third in a similar contest at Sandown last time and must go close but I was impressed with Beshaayir’s (3.35) win over the straight mile here last time and she looks ready for this step up in grade. She didn’t handle the tight right-hand bend at Musselburgh earlier in the season which is a slight concern, but that was over 7f and this round mile should hold no fears.
The 12f handicap is an absolute cracker with three-year-old Austrian School 4lbs well in on official figures having run well in a listed contest at Hamilton a week ago. He looks a typical Mark Johnston improver but I am looking forward to rematch between First Nation and Atty Persse (4.10) who finished first and second in the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot last year.
Charlie Appleby reports the Ebor as First Nation’s primary target and the hope is that Atty Persse – who also holds an Ebor entry – might have a fitness edge having finished third in the valuable Old Newton Cup on his reappearance at the beginning of the month. Note Atty Persse and First Nation are currently 16/1 with BetVictor for the Ebor and the winner of today’s contest would pick up a 4lbs penalty.
I am interested to see Silvestre De Sousa reunited with Lady Dancealot (5.15) as the filly drops back to the minimum trip for the first time on turf. Do Sousa’s record on the filly is 241 and she has been running well in defeat this season. On more than one occasion she has hinted that a stiff 5f would suit.
There is a good card at York this evening and Desert Diamond (7.30) looks sure to appreciate the step back up in trip having been fourth in the Sandringham at Royal Ascot and runner up in a listed contest at Sandown over a mile in recent starts. The filly has been doing all her best work late on and she looks a typical slow burner for Sir Michael Stoute.
Sosume (2.00) holds an entry in the Gimcrack at York next month and should know more about what is expected at Thirsk this afternoon than he did at Ripon on debut when slowly away and very green. Tim Easterby’s Dream Of Honour stayed on well when third at York – beaten less than a length – on debut and is the obvious danger in an informative two-year-old contest.