King George Preview: Taghrooda can repay backers in full

Can Taghrooda take the King George on Saturday?
Can Taghrooda take the King George on Saturday?

Timeform's Alex Cairns looks ahead to the King George, which this year is a real crossroads between three-year-olds and older horses, established Group 1 performers and interlopers, colts and fillies.

"Indeed, even following Taghrooda's addition Telescope has maintained his long-held position at the head of the King George market. At the prices however, it is the fast-improving filly who is preferred. "

Some ante-post punters will be licking their wounds and cursing Taghrooda's connections this week as the unexpected news broke that the John Gosden-trained filly, who had been odds-on for this Saturday's Irish Oaks, will instead take her chance in next weekend's King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

But it's not all doom and gloom for those ante-post backers willing to keep the faith, as Timeform ratings suggest the impressive Oaks winner could well become the first three-year-old filly to take the King George since the French-trained Pawneese in 1976. 

Considered a near certainty for the Irish Oaks against what looked a middling bunch of three-year-old fillies, the King George's combination of both sexes and all ages will undoubtedly offer a much stiffer test, but this also leaves us with a much healthier price to work with and there is plenty to recommend Taghrooda's chances. 

Having yet to come up against colts, or indeed any other proven Group 1 performers, Taghrooda currently carries a relatively lowly Timeform rating of 119p. History tells us that she will need to improve to take a King George, but after three bloodless wins in as many starts she is certainly entitled to do so.

Indeed, Taghrooda is one of only two King George entries to carry the telling Timeform 'p' and the very fact that she has been switched to the more challenging target of the King George suggests that connections are confident that she will make the requisite progress to beat the boys at Ascot. 

What is more, as a three-year-old filly Taghrooda will be receiving a hefty weight allowance from the older colts, adding even greater lustre to an already attractive profile. 
 
The unknown in the race could be another Gosden-trained three-year-old Eagle Top. Suggestions that the King Edward VII winner could be supplemented for Ascot's mid-season highlight were realised on Monday and we certainly respect this up-and-coming three-year-old.

Having not made the track as a juvenile, Eagle Top has been highly progressive in three starts this term, culminating in a facile victory over the reliable Adelaide at Ascot. It is impossible to say how good he might be and he is hence the other King George entry to carry the promise of a 'p'. He will need to be truly exceptional if he is to make the improvement required to win next weekend however as Taghrooda will be only one of several proven Group 1 rivals.

Considering all the hype that has surrounded him, it is hard to believe that Telescope can not yet be included in this elite group, but he did finally go some way to justifying his tall reputation when running away with the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot and is now two from two over 12 furlongs. This looks likely to prove his optimum trip and his C&D experience will surely stand him in good stead.

The form of Telescope's Hardwicke could be crabbed however, as those in behind have had their Group 1 limitations exposed on numerous occasions. That said, few would deny that the race and Telescope's performance was the perfect King George prep and he rates a solid challenger to Taghrooda. 

Indeed, even following Taghrooda's addition Telescope has maintained his long-held position at the head of the King George market. At the prices however, it is the fast-improving filly who is preferred. 

Despite a win and two seconds at Group 1 level, Aidan O'Brien's Magician has arguably been below his best this season, but, like Telescope, he could still show improvement over 12 furlongs and ran well in a top-class Prince of Wales's Stakes last time out.

With the Ballydoyle battalions now seemingly running at full capacity, Magician is likely to run well, though may find the concession of significant weight to progressive Oaks winner too stiff a task.

One horse who has gone from strength to strength this term is William Haggas's Mukhadram. Though still lacking a sexy reputation, he is as reliable as they come and beat no fewer than six Group 1 winners in the Eclipse last time out.

Some might say Mukhadram was favoured by the running of the race at Sandown and he has yet to so much as try a 12-furlong trip. Both are strictly true, though neither is likely to hold Mukhadram back here. The worry is whether he's any better than an average Group 1 winner.

Like Mukhadram, Noble Mission has also notched a first Group 1 win this term when soundly seeing off Magician in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh.

Though Noble Mission has shown marked improvement of late, in terms of both form and attitude, he has already had numerous tries at 12 furlongs and it appears unlikely that the forcing tactics that have seen him show his best will be enough to undo such high-class class rivals, including Telescope who has done some improving of his own since the pair last met.

In betting as in life, it can take time for wounds to heal, but ante-post backers should find adequate balm for any injury suffered after Taghrooda's Irish Oaks defection in seeing her make history in what could be a classic King George.

Recommendation:

Back Taghrooda in the King George

 

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