King George 2017 runner-by-runner guide

Sat 29 Jul 2017

Oliver Brett runs the rule over all ten runners in Saturday King George VI and Queen Elizabteh Stakes at Ascot.

1. DESERT ENCOUNTER

Trainer: David Simcock

Jockey: Sean Levey

General odds: 33-1

Took until the autumn of his four-year-old campaign to make it out of handicap company. Now five, ran very well to finish third in the Coral-Eclipse three weeks ago and this longer trip should suit well enough. Still needs to perform well beyond anything he has shown so far to really get involved at the sharp end. Versatile in terms of ground.

2. HIGHLAND REEL

Trainer: Aidan O'Brien (Four King Georges: 2001 - Galileo, 2007 - Dylan Thomas, 2008 - Duke Of Marmalade, 2016 - Highland Reel)

Jockey: Ryan Moore

Royal Ascot - Day Two - Ascot Racecourse

Rather like Chris Froome in the sphere of cycling, he continues to excel at the highest level without attracting the plaudits he deserves. Now five and apparently still improving, the son of dual Derby winner Galileo has racked up almost £6m in prize money, six Group Ones and has impeccable course form, too. The firmer the ground the better, but Coolmore have stated he is almost certain to run despite the forecast rain.

3. IDAHO

Trainer: Aidan O'Brien (Four King Georges: 2001 - Galileo, 2007 - Dylan Thomas, 2008 - Duke Of Marmalade, 2016 - Highland Reel)

Jockey: Seamie Heffernan

General odds: 10-1

Royal Ascot - Day Five - Ascot Racecourse

A full brother to Highland Reel, he has been put in the shade by his sibling, but did win over course and distance in the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. That said, he did not complete that job with the kind of swagger that would suggest a win in this company is quite within his compass. Usually ridden patiently.

4. JACK HOBBS

Trainer: John Gosden (Two King Georges: 2011 - Nathaniel, 2014 - Taghrooda)

Jockey: William Buick

General odds: 5-1

Horse Racing - Dubai Future Champions Festival - Day One - Newmarket Racecourse

Has failed to fill the top two places in three attempts at Ascot, although those races were all over trips of 1m2f and he has always been a better horse at a mile and a half. Rebounded from a tough 2016 to win the Dubai Sheema Classic first time out in Dubai in March but main rivals that day were probably not race fit and Highland Reel hated the rain-softened going. Will appreciate the forecast rain.

5. MAVERICK WAVE

Trainer: John Gosden (Two King Georges: 2011 - Nathaniel, 2014 - Taghrooda)

Jockey: Graham Lee

General odds: 150-1

Won a Group Three two seasons ago as a four-year-old. Form has deserted him since and is likely to be ridden as the intended pacemaker for fellow Godolphin contenders Jack Hobbs and Benbatl.

6. MY DREAM BOAT

Trainer: Clive Cox

Jockey: Adam Kirby

General odds: 25-1

Royal Ascot 2016 - Day Two - Ascot Racecourse

Surprise winner of last year's Prince of Wales's Stakes here, but very little of note since, certainly nothing that would concern the market leaders. Connections will certainly want even more rain to fall than is forecast. Trainer in fine form and no stranger to big-race success but hard to envisage this one landing the spoils.

7. ULYSSES

Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute (Joint-record five King Georges: 1981 - Shergar, 1993 - Opera House, 2002 - Golan, 2009 - Conduit, 2010 - Harbinger)

Jockey: Jim Crowley

General odds: 11-1

The Summer Fesival - Sandown Park

A logical step for this nicely bred four-year-old to attempt to become the first Coral-Eclipse winner to prevail since Opera House in 1993, having tenaciously outbattled Barney Roy to win at Sandown three weeks ago. Expect Jim Crowley to attempt another stalking raid from the back of the field, but it may be harder over an extra two furlongs. Trainer has an exemplary record in this race.

8. SIXTIES SONG

Trainer: Alfredo Gaitan Dassie

Jockey: Gerald Mosse

General odds: 66-1

It's exciting to have a horse trained in Argentina running at Ascot for the first time and Sixties Song has one excellent piece of form from March, beating the Chilean Derby winner convincingly in South America's multi-national Group One championship in Vina del Mar. How easily does that form translate to Ascot? Hard to know for sure but Dylan Mouth, a top-class Italian horse, came last in this race two years ago.

9. BENBATL

Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor (Joint-record five King Georges: 1995 - Lammtarra, 1997 & 1998 - Swain, 1999 - Daylami, 2004 - Doyen)

Jockey: Oisin Murphy

General odds: 20-1

Royal Ascot - Day Three - Ascot Racecourse

Unraced at two, but second in the Dante and fifth in the Derby, wearing a hood but that has since been discarded. Took first major prize when collecting the Group Three Hampton Court Stakes at the royal meeting last month. Unexposed, and it may be significant that Godolphin favoured his claims over Frontiersman and Hawkbill.

10. ENABLE

Trainer: John Gosden (Two King Georges: 2011 - Nathaniel, 2014 - Taghrooda)

Jockey: Frankie Dettori

General odds: 11-8

2017 Investec Epsom Derby Festival - Investec Ladies Day - Epsom Racecourse

The daughter of 2011 King George winner Nathaniel has been viewed as something of a good thing for this and it is obviously very beneficial that she receives 14lb from all the key market rivals. John Gosden, her trainer, completed the Oaks-King George double with Taghrooda three years ago. Won her Classic double by an aggregate of 10 and a half lengths so the class exists in abundance - but this is the first time she takes on older horses.

Racinguk.com Verdict:

With around 12 hours of patchy rain forecast from late Friday until dawn on Saturday, and the chance of more rain before the big race at 3.35, the class edge that Highland Reel has over most of this field is likely to be blunted. John Gosden's second string Jack Hobbs does not appeal, however, given he underperformed here last time and on ground he has run well on previously - and that means the Newmarket handler's chief contender, ENABLE, looks the likeliest winner even if her price is hardly of any appeal. Benbatl is a fair angle for place or forecast betting.

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