Telescope Zooms In On King George VI
King George VI Stakes
For many racing enthusiasts, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday is the highlight of the summer Flat calendar, bringing together a fascinating clash of the Classic generation against their elders.
In recent years, however, it was the 4yo’s who emerged on top courtesy of nine victories during the last 10 renewals – a record that certainly bodes well for the current 7/4 favourite, Telescope.
Sir Michael Stoute
Telescope first made the headlines when winning a Group 2 at York last summer (1m2f, good to firm), but two subsequent defeats in the mud quickly made him a colt with a bit to prove in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot last month (1m4f, good to firm).
There was never a moment’s doubt at Ascot, however, when demolishing his rivals by 7l on his favoured fast ground.
It was a performance that confirmed his liking for firm ground, and with the sun continuing to shine, this 4yo could make it a fourth victory in the race for Sir Michael Stoute
, whose previous three winners were also 4yo’s.
Of the last 18 King George winners…
All 18 winners ran over 1m2f-1m4f last time.
17 raced during the past two months where 13 came via Royal Ascot, the Curragh or Saint-Cloud – two winning 3yo’s won the Irish Derby since 1996. Six ran in the Tattersalls Gold Cup in Ireland.
16 were drawn away from the two highest, outside stalls.
15 made the top three last time.
15 won a Group 1 event, while 13 made the top two of a Group 1 over 1m4f.
15 were 3-4yo’s; Swain was responsible for two of the three exceptions.
Godolphin had four winners, while Aidan O’Brien and Sir Michael Stoute remain one clear of John Oxx on three victories apiece.
Aidan O’Brien also knows what it takes to win this race having landed the pot on three occasions, and has a talented 4yo of his own in Magician (11/4).
A Breeders’ Cup winner last autumn (1m4f, firm), Magician went close in two Group 1’s the last twice, including when beaten just under 2l by the Fugue last month at Royal Ascot (1m2f, good to firm). That career best effort suggests he won’t be far away on Saturday, with the extra two furlongs not a problem.
Another of the leading principals is the 3yo filly, Taghrooda (5/2), who bypassed last weekend’s Irish Oaks for this engagement. A winner of the Epsom Oaks last month (1m4f, good), she certainly has the class, but will have to defy history if triumphing, as the last winning 3yo filly was almost 40 years ago.
Another 3yo with the age trend to overcome is John Gosden’s colt, Eagle Top (5/1), who upset the odds in taking a Group 2 at Royal Ascot last month (1m4f, good to firm) on only his third outing.
Proven over these conditions, Eagle Top could be the surprise package if taking another step forward, which he’ll need to do against these top-notchers.
With 17 of the last 18 winners having all returned at 9/1 or shorter, it may not pay to look beyond the main protagonists in the betting, though the likes of Mukhadram (12/1) and Trading Leather (11/1) rate decent each-way options.
Mukhadram beat Trading Leather 2l in the Group 1 Eclipse several weeks ago (1m2f, good to firm), but goes into the unknown over 1m4f.
With 4yo’s having such a good recent record in the race, it’s hard to ignore Telescope, especially as Sir Michael Stoute won the race three times with fellow 4yo’s Harbinger, Conduit and Golan.