Ascot plays host to one of its key race days of the flat racing calendar on Saturday with the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes taking centre stage at the Berkshire track. The King George is the most important all-age middle distance race of the season in the UK and has been won by some legendary names down the years.
Horses who perform well at Ascot are often aimed at the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe in October and that could well be the case once again this season with a number of very interesting horses set to take their chance this weekend.
Sir Michael Stoute has trained the King George winner on less than five occasions, which is the joint highest ever, ensuring that his runners in this race are always to be respected. That is certainly the case for Telescope who is one of the market leaders and he looks to have the ideal profile to run a big race in the King George.
He was highly a touted three-year-old who fell below expectations but he has really proven himself as a four-year-old and at the moment he could well start as the one to beat this weekend.
Telescope was last seen winning the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot over the same course and distance as the King George and that alone is enough to ensure that he garners the maximum respect here. He streaked clear of some excellent horses that day proving himself as a classy animal who will like the good ground expected once again this weekend.
Telescope relished the course last month at the Royal Meeting and punters who do want to back him to follow up with another win in the King George can currently get a price of 9/4 with Bet365 which will appeal to some.
The main threat to Telescope according to the betting market is likely to come from the exciting Taghrooda (11/4) who will be bidding to become the first Oaks winner to follow up in the King George the same season since Pawneese in 1976. The John Gosden trained filly simply blew away a good field at Epsom last month to win the classic in great style and remain unbeaten in the process but this will certainly be a massive step up in class against older colts.
She was scratched form the Irish Oaks last weekend at a late stage with the intention of coming to Ascot and her age and sex allowance may well put her right in the frame if she is as special as many observers believe here to be.
Sir Michael Stoute may have trained the winner five times but Aidan O’Brien is not too far behind with three wins to his name and the Master of Ballydoyle has a good chance of making it number four this weekend. The Irish Champion Trainer will be hoping that Magician (11/2) can do the business on Saturday and on his best day he is a top class animal. He won the Irish 2000 Guineas as a three-year-old, while perhaps his best run to date came in America as he beat The Fugue to win the Breeders Cup Turf over the same trip he will face at Ascot this weekend.
He was last seen finishing behind The Fugue in the Prince of Wales’ Stakes at the Royal Meeting at Ascot over 1m2f which was another excellent run and with the fast ground set to suit, Magician is more than capable of upsetting the two market leaders on Saturday if he is fit and well.
One horse who could hardly be in any better form at the moment is Mukhadram who will be looking for a second successive Group 1 after winning the Coral Eclipse last time out. The William Haggas trained five-year-old won that big race at Sandown from the front and rarely runs a bad race which will appeal to each-way punters at a price of around 12/1.
His best form in the past has all come down at 1m2f which is a slight worry here but Haggas is eager to try him at 1m4f and his breeding background suggests that he could be a player at a mile-and-a-half in this one.
The King George this year looks a frighteningly difficult race for punters to pick over with any number of horses in with a real chance. Taghrooda is the potential X factor here as we still don’t really know how good the filly is and we will learn plenty more about this weekend that’s for sure.
This will be her first test against the boys and will get plenty of weight because of that which is a bonus although history suggests she faces a tough task with no Oaks winner going onto to Ascot to win the King George since the 70’s. Telescope is perhaps the worthy favourite after his Royal Ascot success but is short enough which means that it is Mukhadram who makes most appeal for each-way punters after his Eclipse win last time out.