Friday, July 25, 2014

King George: Telescope looks vulnerable

This year's edition of the King George at Ascot looks to be a cracking race; granted, Australia and Treve might not be here but the rest of the field is steeped with top-class middle-distance performers. Here's an analysis of the field.

Telescope. The son of Galileo will start with the favourite tag following his demolition of the field in the Hardwicke Stakes at the same course and distance last month. Sir Michael Stoute's colt will try to follow the footsteps of Harbinger, another Stoute top performer who went on to an authoritative win in the race after success in the Hardwicke. Telescope has never come out worse than second in six career races but he's never faced a talented field of this kind before. He relishes good to firm conditions, and the latest downpour on Friday does not bode well for him. I think he is seriously exposed in this race and will find one or two better on the day. I cannot see him win this.

Taghrooda is the unbeaten Oaks winner who will race against the males for the first time. Given the benefit of her sex and age allowance at the weights, she's a big player. She won the Oaks in a manner that suggests that she's above anything that comes from the distaff side of her generation and  will not be ill at ease in such illustrious company. Her trainer John Gosden is a master at readying his charges for the big occasion and Taghrooda is undoubtedly his main hope; I cannot see her out of the first 3.

At the start of the season, Magician was hailed as being a main contender for the biggest middle-distance prizes this year and it is fair to say that he has not reached the high levels expected of him. He laboured to win a Group 3 in Ireland and has since been runner-up to Noble Mission in the Tatersalls Gold Cup and The Fugue in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot. Unless the Ballydoyle crew have gotten the bottom of him, I fear his biggest hope will be for the minor places.

Mukhradam will be the second-string for Hamdan Al Maktoum but always has the potential to steal a race as he showed in the Coral-Eclipse some weeks ago. He's most dangerous when left to dictate the pace of the race and if allowed to freely roam in front until the straight, he's sure to cause worried looks to the rest of the pack. The 12 furlong trip will certainly stretch the stamina of this mile-and-a quarter specialist.

Trading Leather. A consistent performer who's never out of the places and who will relish the distance. Onb ability, he seems to be a notch below the main contenders but he can definitely spring a surprise if others failing to fire on the day.

Eagle Top. Connections have supplemented this son of Pivotal following his impressive victory in the King Edwards Stakes at Royal Ascot. I suspect that although he's unproven on soft conditions, he will not mind any rain, being a son of Pivotal and a mare from In the Wings. In fact, I think that any downpour will suit him best out of the lot and should be strongly considered if the going gets any worse from good.

Romsdal. This colt is another representative of the Gosden stable and seems to always give the best of himself. He finished a fantastic third in the Derby and is definitely a horse on the upgrade. William Buick has preferred Eagle Top, but then in the Derby he chose Western Hymn with the results we know. Richard Hughes gets the leg-up again on Romsdal and it will not be surprising if he finishes inside the first 3.

Leitir Mor has no chance and his main contribution in the race might be to foil Mukhradam's chances of setting the pace.

This should be a well-disputed race and I will be in the minority in suggesting that Telescope will not win this race. I think the horse is over-hyped more than anything despite his Hardwicke triumph. I think Gosden's horses all have live chances and expect Taghrooda to keep her invincible tag at the finishing post.

Win: Taghrooda
Won't win (lay): Telescope
Place (If going is good/soft): Eagle Top

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