BILL ESDAILE PREVIEWS THE BEST OF SATURDAY’S RACING AND WILLIAM CHRIMES LOOKS AT ENGLAND’S THIRD TEST AGAINST INDIA
TOMORROW’S King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (3.50pm) was given a huge boost 10 days ago with the news that unbeaten Oaks winner Taghrooda would bypass a trip to The Curragh for the Irish Oaks and head to Ascot for one of the best 1m 4f races in the world.
The daughter of Sea The Stars has looked every inch a superstar and the way she burnt off her rivals at Epsom last month has earned her a crack at the colts and her elders.
As a three-year-old filly, Taghrooda carries just 8st 7lb and that could easily be a race-winning advantage. However, Pawneese in 1976 was the last female from the Classic generation to win this £1m race and John Gosden’s star faces a serious test against hardened Group One performers.
Gosden also runs Eagle Top and Derby third Romsdal. You can make strong cases for both, particularly the former who impressively won the King Edward VII Stakes, the same race his former stablemate Nathaniel took in 2011 before glory in this contest.
Telescope finally delivered on all the hype when romping to victory in the Hardwicke Stakes. That took Sir Michael Stoute’s one-time Derby favourite’s record to two from two over this distance.
But he’s yet to run in a top-level race and it’s easy to pick holes in his form. At 2/1, I can swerve the favourite.
FLINTSHIRE was my tip for the Coronation Cup at Epsom and ran a cracker on his first start for eight months, finishing second to Cirrus Des Aigles. Andre Fabre’s electric 2013 Grand Prix de Paris victor couldn’t build on that next time, but once again he was running on an unsuitable surface.
The French horse’s form on good ground is 1112 and conditions should be perfect tomorrow. Fabre wouldn’t waste the fare over here if he wasn’t expecting a bold show and, at 12/1 with Unibet, he’s a fair each-way price.
The Longines International Handicap (3.15pm) is a typically fiendish affair for punters with 29 horses lining up for the seven-furlong charge.
I’m disappointed that one of my original fancies Ayaar has been hit with a potentially disadvantageous low draw. Luca Cumani’s inmate was unlucky in the Hunt Cup, and should go close.
BELGIAN BILL has been a terrific servant for connections, always running well in these big handicaps. Last season’s winner of the Hunt Cup, he got no run in this year’s edition of that race. Granted better luck this time, and with a perfect draw in 29, the six-year-old can go well for Ryan Moore at 8/1.
In the preceding race, the Weatherbys Private Banking Handicap (2.40pm), I’m keen on the useful
GLORIOUS EMPIRE, who won nicely in a decent race at Newmarket earlier this month.
A mark of 97 doesn’t look insurmountable for Ed Walker’s imposing runner.
Up at York, I’m sweet on the chances of MUTHMIR at 7/1 with Unibet in the Skybet Dash (3.30pm). The gelding was too fresh on his reappearance at Newcastle, but this big field should help him settle better and this could be a sprinter going places for owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, who’s enjoying such a great season.
GLORIOUS EMPIRE 2.40pm Ascot
BELGIAN BILL e/w 3.15pm Ascot
MUTHMIR e/w 3.30pm York
FLINTSHIRE e/w 3.50pm Ascot
Bill Esdaile, William Chrimes