The feature race this coming week is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 1m 4f at Ascot. It looks an absolutely belting renewal as we have numerous group winners lining up including Workforce last year’s Derby and Arc winner, Rewilding the Dubai Sheema Classic and Prince of Wales Stakes winner, St Nicholas Abbey who has bounced back to form this year with the Coronation Cup, Midday the Cecil wonder mare and a couple of colts from the Classic generation both of whom I backed for the Derby in Seville who looks to be progressing following a fine second in the Grand Prix de Paris and Nathaniel who bolted up in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot. Debussy is also in the line up but looks purely to be there for pace-making duties.
Looking through the candidates it looks one of those races to savour, a quick look at the trends points to four year olds holding sway recently with 8 of the last 10 this age, horses older than 4 have a poor recent record, it’s also worth noting albeit not a conclusive trend that the last ten winners were all having their first run in the race, whilst 8 of the last 10 had additionally already won a Group 1 race. I’m not though going to get overly hung up over the trends because it did me no good last weekend.
So what of the challengers and my subsequent opinion ..
Workforce 7/4 – One of my favourite horses and one who in my opinion doesn’t get the credit he deserves for last year’s heroics. The one major blot on his copybook however came in this race last year where he was sent off at 8/11 and was well beaten by Harbinger and in fact by the likes of Cape Blanco and Youmzain. It may be that the ground was a little quick or he just got too excitable fighting Cape Blanco at the top of the straight, it is though a concern back over the same C&D. Another concern I’d have with Workforce will be the lack of runners in the race, one thing that I take note of is usually how horses run in big fields compared to small fields with 7 or less runners his record is 2, 5, 2 – the record in larger fields is far superior. I’d not be averse to backing him because I do think he’s the best horse in the race and will probably shorten from the price of 7/4 to around 11/8 at starting price but at that price he’s not a bet for me. I’ll talk about his form lines with So You Think and Rewilding lower down.
St Nicholas Abbey 2/1 – If ever there was one horse which epitomised hype then it’s this horse, he missed the whole of his Classic season bar an abject run in the Guineas and although he’s come back well this season I definitely think he can be taken on at the current price of 2/1. The Coronation Cup run was game but he only finished slightly ahead of Midday who is 25/1 here and 1m 4f stretches her stamina and not miles in front of Clowance who is a Group 3 filly at best. The previous run at Chester showed he had trained on but again the race featured horses which really aren’t of this standard in Allied Powers beaten comfortably since and Harris Tweed. My other big concern with St Nicholas Abbey is that Moore will ride Workforce and thus the jockey booking is up in the air again. I’d have him nearer 7/2 if I’m at all honest as although he has proved the class he had at 2 he’s yet to beat an animal of the class of Workforce or Rewilding.
Rewilding 10/3 – If St Nicholas Abbey is the hype horse in the race then the underestimated horse is the Zarooni trained Rewilding. This horse finished a fair way behind Workforce at Epsom and although the track was an excuse it may have been that the horse was still relatively immature and the race came too soon after his Goodwood win, the break certainly worked as he then bolted up at York in the Voltiguer interestingly enough some 26 lengths ahead of Harris Tweed. The Leger was a poor run. This season however the horse looks to have improved immeasurably having won the Sheema Classic in taking style ahead of Redwood who has some decent form in the book and then most notably in beating So You Think at Royal Ascot, that form ties closely into the Coral Eclipse form with So You Think beating Workforce. The presence of Sri Putra in both races though gives an argument that if the Varian horse has run to form in both then Rewilding isn’t much behind if anything the form of Workforce. Their prices should be closer together in my opinion.
Nathaniel 8/1 – Supplemented at a cost of £75,000 which is probably not as much of a risk as it sounds as he’ll bank over 100k for just coming third, after all may only be 5 line up and Debussy will be one of them! This horse had proved somewhat frustrating prior to his win in the King Edward VII at Ascot, which was a taking performance over the course and distance. He beat some pretty useful looking colts with ease, the form looks pretty strong as Mijhaar and Fulgur both fought out a decent handicap at Newmarket next time out. Previously he’d been narrowly beaten by Treasure Beach who has advertised the form well and has form lines with Seville. I’d suggest Nathaniel deserves his place in the field but to my untrained naked eye probably looks a little short at 7/1 as he is in some places and with no Group 1 experience it’s unknown whether he has the class to beat the top three in the market. He’s a progressive colt but one I can bypass in a race of this quality.
Midday 25/1 – Curious to know whether Midday is only in the race as a precaution in case Workforce doesn’t run. I’d hazard a guess that she may well run even if he does, if she does then she’s a big price at 25/1 because ignoring her run behind Misty For Me where that one was given an excellent ride and looks to have improved enormously, Midday was previously only narrowly beaten by St Nicholas Abbey at Epsom. That race to me wasn’t Tom Queally’s finest hour but having seen St Nicholas Abbey struggle down the hill it made sense to try and push on as the O’Brien horse looked to be struggling. Much like Seville below the price is too big if she runs, that alas is the question mark. I’ve probably got a bit of a soft spot for her though as the trip and record of fillies and mares is poor.
Seville 33/1 – Only ran nine days previously at Longchamp and put up his best effort by some way finishing well ahead of the French Derby winner Reliable Man and the Irish Derby winner Treasure Beach. It’s not clear whether he’ll actually run here or whether he’s actually in as a pacemaker for St Nicholas Abbey. It’s also worth noting that his chances have improved since Seamie Heffernan was giving the steering job following what were two disappointing rides by Soumillion in the Dante and the Derby. It’s quite possible he won’t run but 33/1 does look quite big especially when you consider his form with Treasure Beach who had previously beaten Nathaniel yet that one is 8/1. Ladbrokes don’t actually quote Seville as lining up so I wouldn’t probably risk taking the chance on him until Saturday – he may shorten slightly but I’d expect him to be around 20/1, he’s certainly no back number though based on that Longchamp run and getting a possible soft lead.
Debussy 100/1 – Ran some pretty decent races last year but over shorter, record at Ascot is extremely disappointing and does look purely to be in the race for pace making duties for Rewilding. It will be important for that horses chances that Debussy sets decent fractions and then doesn’t get in the way round the bend/home straight. Looks hopeless from a betting proposition.
Opinion – I feel at the current prices the play is to go with Rewilding who although well beaten by Workforce in the Derby last year, his record with a longer break is excellent and his form with So You Think entitles him to run the Stoute runner close. He’s won at Ascot only last month so the course won’t present a problem and I feel he’s worth taking at 10/3 ahead of the two other market rivals. I’d consider perhaps a small win only bet on Seville on the day because if he gets loose in front especially at a biggish price above 20/1 then he may well just hold them at bay. The jockey bookings are key to the O’Brien runners, Heffernan on Seville and a decent price and I’d be interested.
- 3pt win Rewilding @ 10/3 Ladbrokes
System Bets –
- 7.50 Leicester – Loving Thought – H Cecil (4) (23%)