World class Cirrus can claim the King George

Bill Esdaile
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THE King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (3.50pm) is always one of the highlights of the summer for racing fans and tomorrow’s contest promises to be a real treat, even though it has been robbed of one of its stars in St Nicholas Abbey.

It was terrible to hear about ‘St Nic’s’ injury and we all just have to hope that he can recover and have a long and prosperous career at stud. He never really received the credit he deserved and winning six Group Ones is no mean feat.

Anyway, in his absence, CIRRUS DES AIGLES has been installed as the 6/4 favourite with Coral and it is hard to argue with the layers in Stratford.

This is the highest rated horse in the world who has amassed over £4 million in prize money and gave Frankel a real race in the QIPCO Champion Stakes last October.

Corinne Barande-Barbe’s stable star was disappointing on his seasonal reappearance at Saint-Cloud, behind one of tomorrow’s rivals Novellist, but he always needs his first r­un and this has been the target all along.

He is comfortably clear of the field on ratings and as long as he hasn’t regressed as a seven-year-old, he is going to be incredibly difficult to beat, especially as the rain has arrived to take some of the sting out of the ground.

Novellist is a big threat with man-of-the-moment Johnny Murtagh an intriguing jockey booking. However, I would have been much sweeter on his chances if it was genuinely soft ground. He might be able to get away with good, but his best form has come with plenty of dig.

Sir Michael Stoute has an outstanding record in this race and you have to sit up and take notice when he supplements a horse for it. However, Hillstar has it all to do on form. Yes, he was impressive in the King Edward VII, but he had been beaten in two handicaps prior to that and he is taking on proper Group One horses here.

Trading Leather is respected as an Irish Derby winner, although I’m not entirely convinced about the strength of the three-year-old middle distance colts and a bigger danger may well be Roger Varian’s Ektihaam at 8/1 with Coral.

He was unlucky to slip up when leading in the Hardwicke and he probably would have won that day. He is an improving horse, but it has to be a major worry that Paul Hanagan has chosen to go to York to ride in a Group Two rather than contest this.

The preceding Betfair International (3.15pm) is one of those seven furlong lotteries at Ascot and it’s just a case of whose turn it is this time.

I’m going to throw two darts and the first one is particularly speculative as I think COMPTON can go close at a massive 33/1 with Paddy Power. Now trained by Robert Cowell, this four-year-old has shown a liking for Ascot’s straight course in the past and he is now down to a career low mark.

He’d ideally prefer the ground to be a little softer, but there are thunderstorms forecast on Saturday and from his draw in stall 28 and with the excellent Adam Beschizza in the saddle, he could easily outrun his odds.

My other main fancy is REDVERS from stall four. Ed Vaughan has booked Richard Hughes, who has won two of the last three runnings of this race, and this is another horse who has run well at Ascot in the past. Take the 14/1 available with Coral.

It’s Glorious Goodwood next week and I’ll be there on Wednesday to watch Dawn Approach take on Toronado in what’s being billed as another ‘Duel on the Downs’.

There are still tickets available and they can be bought by calling 01243 755 055.

■ Pointers…
REDVERS e/w 3.15pm Ascot (tomorrow)
COMPTON e/w 3.15pm Ascot (tomorrow)
CIRRUS DES AIGLES 3.50pm Ascot (tomorrow)