We’ve made it to the weekend and there’s some fantastic racing in store. It’s all eyes on Ascot for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes and what a line up we have. Although it’s a shame that last year’s Derby winner Desert Crown won’t be in the lineup, there are still plenty of quality horses in the mix here.
Track conditions are going to be a really big factor this weekend and although the official going at Ascot is soft-good, soft in places, with more rain on the way, it could become softer again. So, my first task here is to find horses that act on the ground and there are definitely a few horses that are easy to rule out on that basis.
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Bolshoi Ballet is a very likeable horse and he deserves plenty of credit for winning the Belmont Derby last year. However, this will require a bit more and he hasn’t been able to reproduce that same form since. He did finish a decent second in the Al Rayyan and then finished third in the Wolferton at Royal Ascot, so he does retain plenty of ability but perhaps not enough to win here.
Deauville Legend is a very honest type with plenty of ability, having won a Group 2 and a Group 3 as a three-year-old running a very respectable race to finish fourth in the Hardwicke on his first run from a break. Although he is entitled to come on again for that, there are plenty in here with better credentials, despite Oisin Murphy being in the saddle.
Hamish is a very consistent mover and seems better than ever at age seven, having won the Ormonde at Chester in a very decent time for the conditions. That was pretty impressive and he backed it up next time out at York too. This course and distance winner is clearly in great form and has opportunities to outrun his odds, this is a tougher race than he faced last year.
Hukum is a very good horse and classy to go with it. He beat rival Pyledriver decisively in the Coronation Cup and then beat last year’s Derby winner, Desert Crown, next time out fair and square. A repeat of either of those performances would see him in with a big chance here and conditions are optimum for him too.
It’s hard not to like Luxembourg as a horse and he is also a beautifully bred colt. He has had his issues though and has perhaps underachieved in his career, but on his day, he wouldn’t be too far away. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had the best preparation for this and although the step back up in trip could help him here, I think he will have a job getting the better of a few of these.
I think Point Lonsdale is the fourth string in the Ballydoyle camp and I much prefer Bolshoi Ballet over him. The form will tell you plenty about Point Lonsdale and show that he has a lot to find with a few in this race and he simply isn’t good enough to win a King George.
I would give Pyledriver a really good chance if this was on a faster surface, but with the ground being soft already and the bad weather we are anticipating, it could even turn to heavy and that puts me off him this time. He is clearly good enough to contest here, but the ground worry means that Pyledriver doesn’t make my shortlist.
I really like Westover he is a very good horse and has no problem with the trip here, in fact, it will be ideal for him. However, he has so far performed at his best in Ireland and France, so he will need to prove he can do it on a soft surface back in England. He does have a squeak each way, and clearly comes here in form, but is something of an unknown quantity here.
Emily Upjohn flopped in this race last year, but it is the only bad race she has run to date. In fact, she confirmed it was just a blip, when she came back to Ascot a couple of months later and bolted up in the Champion Fillies Stakes. That was one of my favourite performances of her career so far and it was run on good to soft, so I think the conditions here will suit her quite nicely, but I do feel she may get outstayed at the finish here.
You won’t find too many as well-bred as Auguste Rodin and he showed his class by winning both the English and the Irish Derby in two completely differently run races, which goes to show exactly how versatile he is. Personally, I don’t think that the ground is too much of an issue for him, but Aiden O’Brien has publicly expressed his concerns about the soft surface, which adds a slight element of doubt from a punting perspective. But overall, he is clearly an immensely talented colt who I think is the one to beat here.
King Of Steel is one serious unit and ran a belter in the Derby, only to get caught late on by Auguste Rodin. However, he seemingly came on for the run when showing a classy performance in the King Edward, which boosts his chances here and he shouldn’t mind the conditions at all. I’d love to see Amo Racing have a big winner like this and I think out of all the runners in the lineup, he is the most likely to run to form.
So how do I see this year's King George panning out? Well, I think conditions are very important when you start considering the runners here. And with it being this soft, you can afford to take a few of the form horses off your shortlist. The main one being Pyledriver, who on a faster surface would have had a huge chance here, but the rain has surely scuppered that. I feel similarly about Auguste Rodin too, especially after hearing O’Brien referring specifically to the going. I think one that’s almost certain to finish in the frame is Emily Upjohn, she doesn’t do much wrong and her past form with Paddington has to put her in the mix.
Anyway, the two I have narrowed it down to are King Of Steel and Hukum, who both look like they have conditions to suit. King Of Steel is so likeable and looks as though he is still on an upward curve. Also, these softer conditions could really benefit a horse as big as him and there is every chance he will gallop all over these on this surface. However, HUKUM is the one for me. He is as tough as they come, has a superb manner about him and is a very uncomplicated sort these days. He absolutely loves this track and the softer conditions are already verified as a plus for him. If they get into a ding-dong battle up the straight, my money is on Hukum to get his nose in front.
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So there you have it folks, my runner-by-runner guide to this week’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes. Hopefully, this will help you to find your selection for the big race. As you know it’s Hukum for me, but who is it for you? Come on over and let me know on Twitter, or by joining my Discord channel.
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