Steve Hughes previews King George day at Ascot
An excellent field lines up for the 2019 King George at Ascot, but with Enable such a strong favourite it looks difficult to find a real betting angle. The rest of the card though is very strong so I have selections for four of the supporting races. Despite the recent heatwave there have been enough showers to turn the ground on the soft side, so my selections are all expected to act on the surface. Dandridge was placed for the each-way bet in the previous column on Sunday (SP 15/2).
Ascot 2.25: Prince of Harts
Trainer Rod Millman has enjoyed an excellent summer, culminating in winning the Super Sprint at Newbury last week. In Prince of Harts he can taste more big race success today.
The gelding still looks temptingly well handicapped off 83, getting weight all round despite winning twice already this campaign. Whilst those wins were at lowly Wolverhampton and Nottingham, he has performed with great credit at a higher level, none more so than at this track last time out.
A fast finishing third that day, he came from too far behind in the short straight on the round mile. This race is on the straight track that will suit far better to suit his hold up style. The rain is another bonus as he is already proven on a soft surface having won on good-to-soft at Nottingham and placed second there on genuine soft going earlier in the campaign.
Ascot 3.00: Makzeem & Blue Mist
Two Roger Charlton horses appeal in this big handicap, drawn on either ends of the track.
Makzeem ended a poor recent run of form by winning at Newbury last weekend, coming through from last to first. It was probably no coincidence that that win was his first run on a softer surface since finishing a good fourth over course and distance in a similar race back in 2017. Indeed all three handicap wins have been gained on good-to-soft going, conditions he is likely to face today. The handicapper has raised him for future races by 6lbs after last week’s success, but that means he is 3lbs well in today given his small penalty.
Blue Mist is slightly more speculative given he finished last on his previous outing, but he was heavily eased on fast ground that day as if something was amiss. Prior to that he had finished sixth in the Victoria Cup over course and distance on similar going to today. Indeed he is building up a solid run of form on slow ground, befitting of a son on Makfi. He also has winning form here over a mile last autumn and he might well be best suited by an end-to-end gallop over 7f rather than slower paced races over a longer trip.
Ascot 4.50: Redarna
A smaller field than usual for this famous lady riders contest and this prize can go to the North of England through Redarna.
The 5yo has been invigorated by the application of cheekpieces this season, landing back to back wins at Carlisle earlier in the summer. He was then fifth in the more competitive Carlisle Bell consolation at the same track before a good second at Chester two weeks ago.
The most recent of those wins came in softer ground and he won twice in quick succession at Ayr on soft ground last autumn. The gelding likes to race prominently so in this small field with a lack of potential early pace, he is likely to be better positioned than most for the final sprint to the line.
Ascot 5.20: Lariat
An improving 3yo, at least when getting his favoured soft going, Lariat has obvious claims in the finale.
His form figures on soft read 122, the most recent run being a narrow defeat over this 12f trip at Chester. Indeed he has placed second on all four starts this campaign, which looks slightly ominous as if he is not that bothered putting his head in front.
However he did win well enough at Ayr last season, and does have the inspired Oisin Murphy on board today. I am sure there is plenty more to come from this horse as he matures and he is the one horse in the race guaranteed to be suited by more rain.
1pt each-way – Prince of Harts – 2.25 Ascot – 15/2 general
0.75pts each-way – Makzeem – 3.00 Ascot – 8/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 6)
0.5pts each-way – Blue Mist – 3.00 Ascot – 20/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 6)
1pt win – Redarna – 4.50 Ascot – 7/2 general
1pt win – Lariat – 5.20 Ascot – 9/4 general