Saturday’s feature The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot is a midsummer highlight and, with Galway & Goodwood on the horizon, this is one of the most eagerly awaited weeks of the racing year.

2.25 Ascot 

Four-year-olds and the classic generation have shared the last ten renewals of the Group 3 Valiant Stakes and there is plenty of pace in the race which should suit ZANBAQ, and I do feel she would be something to bet on were it not for her draw in stall one. Do note this mile contest for fillies and mares is run on the round course.

 If Jim Crowley can get into a decent position in the early stages, then I do feel she will come home strongly. I considered her an unlucky loser when runner up to Heredia – disappointed since – in the Sandringham at the Royal meeting when she was slowly away but finished best of all despite having a troubled passage. If she is slowly away again this afternoon, she will likely find herself having to pass the whole field which is likely to be beyond her.

If she breaks on terms and can race just a couple of lengths off the pace, which is likely to be made by Novemba and/or Kind Gesture, then I feel she will be tough to beat. After just four career starts – three on turf – she remains open to further improvement and the Roger Varian yard are going well at present despite having a 1/5 reverse at Doncaster midweek.

Recommendation: Zanbaq at 2/1 with Bet365

3.35 Ascot

Only six to post for the King George but it is a select field with the globetrotting Mishriff looking to go one better than when beaten by the Derby winner Adayar in the corresponding race 12 months ago. At the start of the season, you would have got a big price that there would be no Godolphin representation in the race with Adayar yet to make the track this term and Hurricane Lane, seemingly, having regressed.

Pyledriver was a big disappointment in the Coronation Cup last time and I think the ground might be a shade too quick for the Arc winner Torquator Tasso. Emily Upjohn was, arguably, unlucky not to win the Oaks last time but I don’t think it was a particularly strong renewal with the form having taken a few knocks since – although I appreciate the third Nashwa won the French Oaks on her next start.

I was impressed with Broome in the Hardwicke last time and the 6-y-old, who has always been held in high regard at Ballydoyle, is the one who I feel is overpriced and the 11/1 with Bet365 for the horse in the market without WESTOVER looks too big.

That said the 11lbs the three-year-olds receive from their elders sways me towards the Irish Derby winner who gets the vote for Ralph Beckett and Colin Keane who retains the ride after their Curragh romp.

The selection was unlucky not to finish at least second in the Derby on his penultimate start, but he was ridden more prominently in Ireland last time and had the race in safe keeping from some way out.

He may be more of a grinder than a colt with a blistering turn of foot and it was hardly a vintage renewal of the Irish classic, but he looked top class at the Curragh, and he will be ridden by the best flat jockey in the world at present in my opinion.

Recommendation: Westover at 6/4 with Coral and Broome w/out Westover at 11/1 with Bet365

4.25 York

There was the prospect of significant rain at York on Friday but, at the time of writing, conditions remain good to firm.

David Egan has lost the ride on Mishriff in the King George, but I hope he has a Saturday winner courtesy of DANNI CALIFORNIA on the Knavesmire. The selection came from last to first to score over C&D last time and a 5lbs rise may not prevent him following up.

That was the recommendation’s first start over two miles, and he improved again for the additional quarter of a mile. He can be slowly away, even for a hold up performer, and has nothing in hand of Blow Your Horn on recent C&D form at the revised terms but I thought he won with a bit in hand last time and the hope is that Egan can get a good tune out of this progressive stayer.

Recommendation: Danni California at 3/1 with William Hill   

2.12 Newcastle

SOUND ANGELA gave Jefferson Smith his first winner in Britain when she beat Al Quareem at Kempton on her second start, having shaped with considerable promise on debut at Newmarket on soft ground.

She was slowly away when defying her penalty on her final start at Lingfield back in December and may have been let in lightly from an opening mark of eighty-four. She is Varian’s sole runner at Gosforth Park this afternoon and I will be disappointed if she doesn’t run a big race. She has yet to race on tapeta and her breeding is nothing special, but she looked one to keep onside as a three-year-old and she may be capable of defying her opening mark against largely exposed rivals.

Recommendation: Sound Angela at 9/4 with William Hill    

4.32 Newcastle

I thought SEA KING ran a tremendous race at Haydock last time when he failed to get home in a valuable soft ground handicap over 1m 6f having pulled far too hard for the majority of the race.

The drop back in distance will suit, Sir Mark Prescott has had five winners from his last seven runners and his 3-y-old, who still holds an entry in the St Leger at Doncaster, was an impressive winner on his sole previous visit to the track. He merits the weekend nap although, at the time of writing, there are no prices on the race.

Recommendation: Sea King at 3/1 with Boylesports

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