King George the jewel in a sporting feast

Ascot 1.50

This looks a really deep renewal of the Group Three Princess Margaret Stakes but it will still be a major surprise if SUMMER ROMANCE is beaten given how impressive she has been in her two races to date.

It’s actually a bit of a surprise seeing her in this as Charlie Appleby was talking about stepping her up to seven furlongs, but she certainly did not look short of speed when winning at Newmarket last time out.

While it might not have been the strongest Listed race ever run she oozed class in winning by six lengths and while the runner-up did not give the form a ringing endorsement at Sandown on Thursday, she was only beaten two lengths in a decent Listed event.

She’s already favourite for next year’s 1000 Guineas and it would be nice to see her win just so Ballydoyle do not have a clear run at next year’s Classics. It is far from a penalty kick, though.

Good Vibes was impressive in winning a Listed race at York, but that hasn’t really worked out. She is stepping up to six furlongs, and had to miss Ascot with a setback.

So Sharp could be the biggest threat. Archie Watson has carried all before him with juveniles this season, and potentially this filly could be the best of the lot. A comfortable winner at Newbury on debut, the second came out and bolted up next time. She would certainly temper enthusiasm about a hefty bet on the favourite.

The fact Jessica Harrington sends Punita Arora over is also noteworthy too, given her strength in depth in the division this season.


York 2.05

Get Knotted has won this race for the last three years and a fourth win would go down very well on the Knavesmire. He’s won it on good to firm and soft so ground conditions come alike to him, but the problem is in three runs this season he has been nowhere near his best.

As a result, though, he has dropped to a winnable mark of 90, having won it last year off 95. Starlight Romance was second last year getting 5lb and while she’s 2lb worse off this year, the claim of Connor Murtagh means she is 1lb better off and she is another who saves her best for York.

I’ll take a chance with WHINMOOR, though. A prolific winner last season progressing from 52 to 89, he started this season with a fine second to the classy Lake Volta at Yarmouth. Having found six furlongs too sharp next time he has not been disgraced the last twice but he has dropped from 91 to 85 and Nigel Tinkler is in red-hot form.


Ascot 2.25

Some nice, improving three-year-olds line up here but the best of them could be MOTAKHAYYEL who looked a horse of some potential when winning last time out. Winner of three of his four starts to date, he appreciated the step back up to a mile beating what looked a decent field pretty comfortably. The 6lb rise for that looks fair, especially considering his big market rival Wings Of Time went up the same amount for winning by a neck.

Flashcard is 6lb better off with the selection but he is now looking quite exposed and Richard Hannon’s charge is surely still on the upgrade. Top weight Beatboxer is an all or nothing character but he’ll have to be ahead of his mark of 101 to give weight to Motakhayyel, and I don’t think he is.


York 2.40

Quite how much rain will fall at York before racing is up in the air. They could catch an absolute deluge or completely miss the forecast heavy showers. On the assumption that at least some rain hits the track FLYING PURSUITS has to be of interest.

He beat stablemate Golden Apollo in this 12 months ago but has been winless since so as a result he returns off a 2lb lower mark. Rachel Richardson gets on exceptionally well with him and there have been flashes in his last two runs that he might be returning to form.

Last October he was beaten less than a length off a mark of 100 and runs here off 92 so his claims are pretty obvious – if the rain comes. His best run this season came on good to soft so he does have excuses. Stablemate Golden Apollo has been VERY expensive to follow, as I know to my cost. He’s 4lb lower than last year but if he ever wins he’ll be doing so without my money now.


Ascot 3.00

Another massive field to decipher and similar weather comments apply to Ascot. If rain comes RAISING SAND will surely be popular. He saves his best for Ascot, is as effective over seven furlongs and a mile and has been placed in the Victoria Cup and the Royal Hunt Cup this season. He looks sure to be thereabouts as long as the ground isn’t fast.

I’ll also give stablemate LUSH LIFE another chance. She is much better than she showed last time at Sandown when she didn’t actually run as badly as her finishing position (last) suggests. It is interesting Jamie Osborne reaches for first time blinkers, but with Jamie Spencer at York Charles Bishop steps in for the ride.

It is so competitive I could put up half a dozen, with the likes of Makzeem, who is well in, and Arbalet also holding strong claims.


York 3.15

Having been beaten less than three lengths by Enable in the Eclipse and in the absence of stable companion Sangarius, REGAL REALITY would appear to have a pretty straightforward chance of winning the York Stakes. However, if the rain really does hit then Addeybb would be the one to beat based on his easy Royal Ascot win.

I think Regal Reality still has plenty more to offer, though, as the Eclipse was just his eighth run and his win in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes was very impressive from a solid yardstick in Matterhorn previously. Elarqam has bounced back to winning ways this season but even his best leaves him with a bit to find, and Bangkok represents the Classic division of which I have still to be convinced this season.

Regal Reality can be tricky going to post so it may be worth waiting to see how he gets down to the start before piling in.


Ascot 3.40

We’ve got a really good line up including officially the best horse in the world, and Enable … work that one out! Strictly on the figures I can see how Crystal Ocean has a higher rating than Enable given he beat Magical further than Enable managed in the Eclipse. But – I don’t think John Gosden’s star is as effective over 10 furlongs, it was her first run of the season, and she never looked like getting beaten.

Crystal Ocean was winning at the highest level for the first time and even though he’s 5lb better off from when they met at Kempton last year, giving ENABLE 3lb is tough for any horse and even if Crystal Ocean has improved, I still don’t think he’s a superstar, he’s just been handled expertly by Sir Michael Stoute.

I hope Enable wins as she’s on the verge of breaking through into the mainstream, even people with barely a passing interest in racing ask me about her and of course she has the perfect man on board for a horse who is doing that as Frankie Dettori conveys his affection for her so eloquently.

Let’s hope she enjoys herself here before heading for a historic third Arc. I haven’t even mentioned the Derby winner, but I’ll be amazed if Anthony Van Dyck troubles the big two. However, I have been known to be wrong one or two times before!

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