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Three the magic number in the King George

27 Jul 2017

Benbatl will be Oisin’s first ride in the Kinge George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO). 

We’re back at Ascot once again on Saturday, and not even the rain can dampen what looks to be a vintage Champions Series King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes! There’s a mouthwatering ten-runner field and the winner can come from anywhere. It reminds me very much of the 2012 King George where Nathanial and Danedream got in an epic duel, and St Nicholas Abbey was in behind to finish 3rd- one of those great, great races you don’t forget.

Back to 2017 and it’s difficult to know where to start with Highland Reel, Enable, Idaho, Jack Hobbs on the list, but I’ll begin with my ride and I’m delighted to be reunited with Benbatl– who has a special place in my heart being my first ever Royal Ascot winner!

As a three-year-old in the race he’ll be getting weight from the older horses, which he’ll need with a bit to find on the official ratings. He’s lightly raced though and it’s going to be interesting to see how he gets on in this company.

Highland Reel is one of the horses of a lifetime, he’s been around for years and always runs well. I just feel his form on slower ground than good isn’t great, but that’s the only negative I can find for him.

Idaho is a full brother to Highland Reel, but unlike his sibling he’ll have no trouble handling soft ground as he’s not ground dependent at all. He obviously ran a really good race last time at Royal Ascot when winning the Hardwicke. Seamie Heffernan gets on really well with him, but it’s going to be interesting to see who rides what on the day.

Jack Hobbs will have been doing a rain dance this week, and it seems to have worked with the conditions have coming up right for him. John Gosden has given a really upbeat report on him too which is a big plus. Whether or not he’ll be up to beating Enable or Highland Reel I’m not so sure, although he has beaten Highland Reel in the past so maybe we shouldn’t right him off just yet.

My Dream Boat is running for a trainer who is bang in form. Clive Cox got Harry Angel spot on for the July Cup, and you’d expect My Dream Boat to be in peak condition for this.

Another Champions Series winner in the mix is Ulysses, running for master trainer Sir Michael Stoute. The Eclipse winner isn’t drawn perfectly in stall 8, but has plenty in his favour. He’s stepping up in trip this time, but he’s bred to get it. He’s probably the best bred horse in the race in my opinion- I can certainly see him in the shake up.

The one who stands out for me as the most likely winner is the filly Enable. She’s getting 14lbs off the older horses, which is a serious amount of weight. The Nathanial progeny all improve immensely from two to three years old. She’s a big, imposing filly who with the weight allowance and soft ground not an issue I think she’ll take a lot of stopping.

Elsewhere on the card I ride Naval Warfare in the 2nd race. The ground was far to quick at Sandown last time, I didn’t give him too hard a race that day and I’m glad to get a ride on him in conditions much, much more suitable. The slower the better for him, which is not something you can say about a few of his rivals in the race. The ground will be an issue for others, as will handicap marks. I’m certainly hoping my guy can take advantage.

David O’Meara gives me the leg up again on Firmanent, who I rode in his last race. Things didn’t quite go to plan that day in Group company. He’s a horse that has Group course and distance form in the book. With 27 currently in the field he’s going to need things to fall right. The big danger for me is Flaming Spear who has just been waiting for this ground to come up, and won very impressively at Newcastle.

Ghost Surge is a horse I know well having won on him in a maiden at Lingfield. He got pipped on the line in France last time. We think he has improved from that and it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on in what looks like a competitive Listed race.

Horse To Follow: Manson, 8.00 York

Ran very well last time, with the track on the Knavesmire sure to suit he should go well.