The first day of Ascot's King George meeting sees some useful performers on show, though for the most part the early races on the card look to have solid, short-priced favourites and make limited appeal from a punting point of view. The last two, by contrast, are much more open and both look to offer rather more for the value seeker.
The mile-and-a-quarter handicap at 16:30 features several that have come up short in bigger handicaps than this one. Zain Eagle was runner-up to Farraaj in the John Smith's Cup, while Salutation and Elhaame both ran well against Arab Spring in the Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal meeting last month. There's a case to be made for all of them, though Zain Eagle has looked tricky under pressure and had the run of things against Farraaj. With Salutation in the field and drawn 1, it seems unlikely that Richard Hughes on Zain Eagle (8) will want to get involved in a battle for the lead he's odds on to lose. Salutation and Elhaame are both dropping back in trip, which may suit the former the better, and he's likely to confirm placings.
Of the others, Charles Camoin has claims, given his good course record, and he did well to come from so far back to win here earlier in the month. However, the bend was railed out, which meant the field fanned out much more than usual at Ascot, with no trouble in running. Forgotten Hero shaped with some encouragement in the Old Newton Cup on his return, but Jamie Spencer, who rides this afternoon, has dropped him out right at the back when he's ridden him previously, and those tactics may not be ideal today. All in all, Salutation looks the best bet in the race, likely to get his way in front, beaten only by a really progressive one last time (on this track) and from a stable at the top of its game.
The five-furlong handicap at 17:00 has a field short on pacemakers. Breccbennach may get the run of the race and makes some appeal, even though he's not obviously well handicapped. However, it might be worth chancing Outer Space. He's a headstrong sort, best at five furlongs, who hasn't been seen to advantage this year. Three of his four runs have been at six furlongs, while in the one run at five he was never competitive, held up in a large field, at York's May meeting. Outer Space is the pick of the weights on his best form at two, which came here, and if, rather than trying to restrain him, he is allowed to do his own thing back at the right trip, he could well take some catching.
Both at Ascot
Back Salutation @ 5.24/1 in the 16:30
Back Outer Space @ 21.020/1 in the 17:00