David Cleary puts up a couple of big-priced contenders that can cause a shock in the King George...
Backing Romsdal and Mukhadram looks the value option in a cracking contest, with the latter in particular worth backing for a place as well.
The King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes's long-held position as Britain's premier all-aged middle-distance race has come under threat with the revamped Champion Stakes in the autumn, but today's renewal (at 15.50) is a fascinating one, despite the absence of any French or German challengers or the one-two from the Derby. Yesterday's deluge means the ground at Ascot will be easier than anticipated, but is very unlikely to be any softer than good.
Telescope has been a warm order for the race since finally justifying his tall reputation in the Hardwicke Stakes; however, that wasn't a particularly strong renewal of a de facto Group 1 and he looks short enough, even if more may be forthcoming. Mukhadram and Trading Leather were first and second in the Eclipse, well positioned in a tactical race, though there's a chance this might be as well, and both are arguably overpriced, particularly Mukhadram, who has been overlooked by Paul Hanagan and is untried at a mile and a half. That's a doubt, but Mukhadram's pedigree offers definite hope that he will stay. The older-horse challenge is completed by Magician, whose second in the Prince of Wales's Stakes, gives him leading form claims. It's arguable he should be challenging for favouritism.
There are three three year olds in the line-up, all trained by John Gosden and open to improvement. The Oaks winner Taghrooda and Edward VII scorer Eagle Top both could be anything, but are priced accordingly. The Derby third Romsdal has improved with each run and in form terms is at least on a par with his stable companions, the Derby almost certainly representing a stronger piece of form than either the Oaks or the Edward VII. Backing Romsdal and Mukhadram looks the value option in a cracking contest, with the latter in particular worth backing for a place as well (Romsdal makes less appeal for a place, given jockey bookings).
The closing mile-and-a-half handicap at 17.00 sees a poor-value favourite in the shape of Trip To Paris. Yes, he's down in grade and did well in the George V Handicap at the Royal meeting, but his form chance is no better than most of his rivals in a tight handicap. The pair to take against him are the unexposed Hooded and the up-in-trip Rising Breeze. Hooded has strong maiden form at two and a good pedigree, so is definitely worth giving a chance to, two months on from a disappointing return. Rising Breeze has two solid runs to his name since a hood was fitted and is sure to benefit from an extra quarter of a mile this afternoon.
Back Romsdal to win @ 27.026/1 and Mukhadram to win @ 18.017/1 and place @ 3.9 in the 15.50 at Ascot
Back Hooded @ 12.011/1 and Rising Breeze @ 19.018/1 in the 17.00 at Ascot