The all-conquering Golden Horn looks a good thing to add the King George to his impressive CV containing victories in the Derby and Eclipse.
The big race of the weekend is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, but it makes little appeal as a betting medium with the Derby and Eclipse winner GOLDEN HORN no bigger than 1/2 to stretch his unbeaten record to six.
UPDATE – heavy rain has turned the ground at Ascot to “soft” and that has caused the price of Golden Horn to drift – a top price of 4/5 with bet365 at the time of writing. He might not even run – his trainer John Gosden is to walk the course on the morning of the race before making his decision – but it has to be said the rain is not ideal for his main rivals, principally Eagle Top and Snow Sky – either. Golden Horn’s stablemate Romsdal, who is contracted to be ridden by William Buick, will be suited by the conditions and he may therefore outrun his current bet365 price tag of 33/1, with each-way terms of one quarter the odds, three places on offer.
John Gosden’s charge has at least 8lb in hand over his rivals and that equates to around five lengths at this distance of 1m4f. Of course, there is always a danger that, having had four runs this season, he may have peaked already. However, he is clearly something special and didn’t look like a horse who’d had enough for the season when winning by three-and-a-half lengths on his latest start at Sandown, with Frankie Dettori struggling to pull him up after the line. Another furlong or so more and he’d have beaten The Grey Gatsby, who is no mug, by much further and the extra two furlongs he has to travel and Ascot’s stiff uphill finish is unlikely to bother him.
Anyone looking to oppose him on the basis he’d be the first Derby winner to triumph since Galileo in 2001 is surely clutching at straws. Since then only Kris Kin and Workforce have tried and the latter was clearly well below-par when failing in 2010. Taghrooda bucked a trend 12 months ago when becoming the first three-year-old filly to win since 1976 and the generous (some would say) weight-for-age allowance of 12lb surely gives Golden Horn every chance of cementing his place in racing history to rank alongside the likes of Nijinsky, Mill Reef, Shergar and Nashwan – all winners of this great race in their Classic year, with the latter being the last horse to complete the Derby/Eclipse/King George treble.
It doesn’t say a lot for the opposition when the only other Group 1 winners lined up against him are foreign raiders Flintshire, who won a weak Group 1 in Hong Kong in the winter and more often than not comes up short at this level, and the hopelessly outclassed Dylan Mouth and Madame Chang. The former is much preferred of that trio, but the race for second spot may take place between Eagle Top, a stablemate of Golden Horn, and Snow Sky, who represents Sir Michael Stoute, whose five victories in this race puts him on a par with Dick Hern.
Snow Sky ran out a most impressive winner of the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, beating Eagle Top by nearly four lengths. However, it would be no surprise to see the runner-up turn the tables here as he has continued to improve since finishing fourth in last year’s King George and his Ascot run may be best forgotten. Sent off at just 2/1 (the winner returned 12/1) on the back of an encouraging comeback fourth at Sandown, which was clearly needed, he was far too keen early and then got into a barging match with the eventful third Postponed. Granted a clear run this time and a truer gallop, he looks the one most likely to follow the favourite home, with the straight forecast suggested for those punters looking to spice things up further with a bet.
Recommendation: Golden Horn-Eagle Top straight forecast @ bet365*
*watch a live stream of the King George with just a small bet – a mere £0.50 (£0.25 each-way) in the case of bet365 – required to watch