It’s King George day at Ascot on Saturday, and many have expressed their vilification that even at the five-day stage only two trainers held entries for the midsummer showpiece.
Just three horses ultimately take on Enable, all from Aidan O’Brien’s yard and while it’s hoped the best horse wins, she is too short in the market considering the Ballydoyle plan is likely to box her in at the crucial stage.
As we approach Glorious Goodwood there is somewhat of a dearth of Pattern races, but some competitive handicaps are taking place, some top novices are due to run and at York the big Group 2 event can go to last year’s winner. These four all look fair betting value:
1.50 Ascot (Pat Eddery Stakes – Listed Race) – NAVAL CROWN
This is a decent Listed event for the juveniles, the type in which those who haven’t raced in Pattern company and yet hold a chance tend to be last time out winners but our selection is an exception to that.
Charlie Appleby’s Naval Crown was just third on his debut at Newmarket, while main rival Saint Lawrence was a decent fourth in the Superlative Stakes (Group 2) last time out.
The Superlative winner, Master Of The Seas, is just about the top rated two-year-old to have run as yet this season and so Saint Lawrence’s form is rock solid, and yet our horse ran to a very similar speed figure on debut behind two horses with experience and would clearly have a lot more to give now coming out of novice company.
John Gosden brings Saeiqa here who ran third at Royal Ascot, while Woodcote Stakes winner Twaasol completes the shortlist but it’s hard to know just how much improvement these horses have in them now moving up to seven furlongs. In any event, the unexposed son of Dubawi who gets the vote.
2.40 York (York Stakes – Group 2) – ELARQAM
This year’s York Stakes is a tight-looking Group 2 affair, all of the six other runners holding some sort of chance if the selection isn’t on top form.
However, Elarqam does have plenty in his favour. Mark Johnston’s runner beat a few of these home in the Group 1 Juddmonte International over this course and distance last season, the best piece of form on offer by some way with his profile suggesting he can repeat or even better that yet.
He also has close form this term from Haydock with Lord North who has since been raised to a mark of 124 having taken the Prince of Wales’s Stakes in fine style, while the son of Frankel also won this race last season ahead of subsequent dual Group 1 winner Addeybb who had his ideal racing conditions that day. He looks set fair for another massive run.
In behind things appear quite close. Juddmonte International fifth Regal Reality of Sir Michael Stoute’s yard retains plenty of potential and could be booked for a place here, while Andrew Balding’s Fox Chairman can yet improve.
Last year’s Dante winner and conqueror of Too Darn Hot, Telecaster, makes his British return having won in France and could be dangerous while King Of Comedy has been rated high enough in the past to have won this, but hasn’t been at his best for some time. A return to form could be on the cards for the Gosden colt.
3.00 Ascot (Handicap) – TSAR
It’s a shame prize money is so pathetically low in Britain at the moment, especially for races such as this one.
Run over Ascot’s straight mile, this handicap is for the three-year-olds only and there could well be one or two future Group performers in the field.
I reckon this race can be whittled down to three key runners, beginning with The Queen’s horse Evening Sun. Trained by Roger Charlton, the son of Muhaarar was a good winner over seven furlongs at Newmarket last time at the third attempt, with huge improvement having come in between runs so far.
The one with arguably the strongest form so far is William Haggas’ Johan. Having taken a huge step forward when winning first time up for the season at Newbury, the Zoffany colt announced himself as one with a decent future but his 8lb rise could prove to be a tad harsh for a horse who won narrowly, if fairly comfortably.
The one to side with all things considered though is likely to be John Gosden’s Tsar. Only just coming to himself after four career runs spread over twelve months, the beautifully bred son of Kingman out of a 100+ rated King’s Best mare stepped up to score at Yarmouth last time in the style of a horse with a lot more to give.
He’s been raised 6lbs for that but frankly a handicap mark of 94 should be nowhere near reflective of his true ability and so he is taken to score under Frankie Dettori.
3.15 York (Handicap) – ELWAZIR
There could be some real value in this one-mile contest, at small stakes and/or if strong money comes in the morning for Owen Burrows’ Elwazir. At the time of writing, the five-year-old is available at 12/1 in places and that looks crazy.
Elwazir was really going places a season or two ago, being aimed at Group 3 level and being expected to run to a mark of 110+ at least. He is in this handicap off 103, had a pipe-opener after his gelding operation at Newmarket but is down in trip now, is much fitter and could well do himself justice. The son of Frankel therefore is simply overpriced and is worth a nibble.
In behind things are close with the likes of Hartswood, Orbaan, Tadleel and Al Erayg all capable of landing blows.