Friday, July 22, 2011

Middle-distance Summer Championship

The King George, Europe's middle-distance Summer championship race, runs this Saturday regrouping a very high-class field. The French top performers are missing as they prefer sharpening their weapons for the Arc in October. Despite the field of five, this looks to be a cracking race.

Make it 4, because Debussy has no chance in it. He will act as pacemaker to ensure that the pace is hot for his stablemate Rewilding. Surprising that it's now Godolphin that is making the use of a lead horse, and not Ballydoyle...I guess the Prince of Wales stakes race taught Sheikh Mohammed's team a few things!

Despite beating So You Think fair and square at 10 furlongs, many still seem to believe that this was a one-off for Rewilding. SYT was not fully-fit, his handler said. The 12f distance is perfect for Rewilding. He will get his strong pace. The best jockey riding at Ascot will be on board. He's a classy horse that is a proven Group 1 winner. He should not be too far from the finish.

St Nicholas Abbey is by Montjeu and will be at his best distance as well. I still have one lingering doubt on whether he's as good as he's made out to be by his connections. He will be ridden by JP O'Brien which might be a negative given his relative inexperience. I firmly believe he won't win this race and is destined to finish in the Places. If he wins well, then I will categorize him as one of the best middle-distance colts in the world.

Workforce is the horse to beat. He only got beaten by SYT at 10 furlongs and would have won that race any other day the freak from Australasia wasn't there. The negative vibe about the King Best colt is that he inexplicably flopped in the same race last year, finishing miles behind Harbinger. Sir Michael Stoute is pointing the finger on himself for that off-day but there is that outside chance that the horse does not like something about Ascot. We'll know if that is the case on Saturday. My feeling is that if he horse shows true form on the day, he will be very hard to beat.

Nathaniel is a very good horse but it is still very difficult to gauge his true abilities given his past 5 races to date. He's been beaten by Frankel and Treasure Beach and is a proven winner at 12 furlongs. He's been supplemented for the race, which indicates that the connections must be confident. John Gosden, his trainer, certainly knows what he's doing. If I were to compare his form to the rest, I would say he's a notch below the 3 above-mentioned horses; but he's still progressive and there is more to come from him in his next races.

In the end, provided there are no hard-luck stories, I see this being between Workforce and Rewilding with St Nicholas Abbey in third. If you fancy a punt, that's the trifecta that I recommend.

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