John Doyle gives his thoughts on the runners and riders at Ascot’s King George Weekend this weekend.
Ascot is the place to be for this pulsating race as the generations are finally tested against each other over a proper middle distance test. The protagonists this year are headed by the Sir Michael Stoute trained, Telescope.
This horse has been on the radar for some time but ultimately suffered growing problems and met numerous setbacks through his early career. That all changed in the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot this year where he ran out an impressive winner, Ryan Moore kicking for home early in the straight and running right away from his field.
That performance gave the distinct impression of another rapidly improving individual who will be hard to beat in this renewal of the great race.
The dangers are aplenty though, headed by Magician for the Ballydoyle team who steps up in trip here following some encouraging runs over shorter, most recently a staying on runner up in the Prince of Wales at Royal Ascot. He appears not to do anything too fast though and that lack of tactical speed counts against him at the top level.
The exciting Oaks winner, Taghrooda, swerved the Irish Oaks to run here and her chance has to be respected with the hefty age and Filly allowance being very much in her favour. At Epsom, she travelled really well and quickened right away. She is open to any amount of improvement and could be a big danger.
Mukhadram was a deserved winner of the Eclipse at Sandown in a race that wasn’t run to suit many of the participants. Paul Hanagan took the initiative and set sail for home early in the straight and won well. The step up in trip is a big negative to his chance here as he hasn’t looked to be full of extra power at the end of his races.
Eagle Top is the other potential 3 year old runner that could be competitive. He was visually impressive over C&D in the King Edward at Royal Ascot and afterwards, John Gosden talked about him as a highly exciting middle distance horse. The negative here is that the same stable are now targeting their Oaks winner at the race too, so doesn’t inspire confidence.
In conclusion, with the expected continual improvement of the Sir Michael Stoute horses as they progress through their career and with Ryan Moore doing the steering, Telescope is the most likely winner of this race with the high class 3 year olds providing the sternest opposition.
This is a super competitive, high value, handicap over the straight course at Ascot. The trip of 7 furlongs is quite specialist and the other factor to consider is that horses who have run well at Ascot before are usually the ones to concentrate on as they tend to run well again.
Ayaar for the Luca Cumani stable has run two super races over the course on his latest runs and has incurred interference in both races. Off the same mark here and with a little better luck in running, he has a leading chance.
Horstead Keynes was given a typical Jamie Spencer hold up ride in the Buckingham Palace over C&D at the Royal meeting and went down fighting to Louis the Pious, who got a dream run and held on. Horstead Keynes is lightly raced and is open to improvement and will be in the mix again.
Absolutely So was subject of a massive gamble that went astray in the Wokingham over 6 furlongs at the Royal Meeting. He reappeared at Newmarket for the Bunbury Cup and went down fighting. Off the same mark, you get the impression this horse is rapidly improving and will go on to better things. The poor run at Ascot is the only negative but that may have been caused by the trip.
The recent Ascot winners, Field of Dreams, Gabriels Lad and Belgian Bill will also be competitive and can all be considered dangers but the progressive form of Ayaar, Horstead Keynes and the potential of Absolutely So bring them to the head of the shortlist.