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25th July 2015

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Rain Key To Golden Horn’s King George Prospects

Golden Horn is potentially the joint best horse in the world in training on ratings but must win the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday to justify that status. American Pharoah won the US Triple Crown this season and only a match would prove which is the better horse. Golden Horn is trying to emulate some of the greats by winning the Derby and King George in the same season.

Clever Cookie is a former hurdler trained by a stalwart of the Northern jumps scene. The horse is no doubt operating above himself in this race but he keeps overachieving and could continue in that manner by running into a place. He will have to beat the cream of middle distance older horses in Europe but could benefit from how the race pans out especially if Golden Horn races prominently.

The race colloquially known as the King George is a Group 1 race for which horses aged three and older are eligible. It is Britain’s most prestigious race not limited by age and is often the first occasion in the season when the Classic generation compete against older horses. Indeed on Saturday Golden Horn will be racing against horses out of his age group over 12 furlongs for the first time.

Only Dahlia in the 1970’s and Swain in the 1990’s have won the race twice. Lester Piggott is the leading jockey with seven wins between 1965 and 1984. Three trainers have won the race five times and Michael Tabor from the Coolmore syndicate has the best record as an owner with five wins between 2000 and 2008. Frankie Dettori rides Golden Horn having won the race four times going back to Lammtarra in 1995.

The last 15 winners have been aged three or four but only two from the younger age group have won over the last ten years. When Swain won the race for the second time in 1998 at six he became the oldest horse to win the race. The Group 1 is so prestigious that winners are often retired to stud and horses kept in training after four are not good enough to compete. Nathanial and Taghrooda have won the race for John Gosden, Golden Horn’s trainer, in the last four years and then took up stud duties.

On Friday morning Gosden was expressing concerns about the amount of rain that could fall before this year’s King George. With rainfall predictions in a huge range the race could change in nature and punters were anticipating a deluge by deserting Golden Horn at the relevant prices. There is still not a scenario in which Golden Horn would not run but the trainer kept everybody in the loop with his comments in the Racing Post. He said:

“The latest forecast was for a great deal more rain than we were originally expecting. With regards Golden Horn it’s hard to say how soft ground would affect him. He won his maiden on the easy side of good, but since then he’s seen nothing but really fast ground. He hasn’t raced on it, so we’ll have to have a walk of the track and see how it looks for him. If they had an inch and a half, what we have now at Ascot may be very different to Saturday afternoon.”

Even in the absence of Golden Horn Gosden would be well represented in the race with two live chances. Romsdal would benefit from more rain and Eagle Top is proven with some give in the ground though on balance the horse is better suited to good rather than soft ground. With regards the favourite soft ground may push his stamina beyond its limits over 12 furlongs in an all aged race. The distance was not a problem in the Derby but he is now racing against more mature and experienced horses.

One of those is Clever Cookie who is trained by Peter Niven. As a jockey he was based in the north and in May 2001 became just the sixth jumps rider to win over 1,000 races and then retired with his tally on 1,002. He never won one the major races at Cheltenham or Aintree and the term stalwart journeyman could have been invented for him. In Clever Cookie he is training a horse probably better than he has ever ridden. On form the horse may not deserve to be eating at the top table but even finishing third on Saturday would boost Niven’s training career.

Clever Cookie has won five from eight races both over jumps and on the Flat. In his younger days he was a regular winner over hurdles at Musselburgh so his career has taken several twists. He has won his latest two starts in good company at Chester and York but the King George is a massive step up in class. Clever Cookie has never raced on faster ground than good and has won four races in soft. More rain makes the King George a greater test of stamina. Golden Horn’s class can see him prevail but Clever Cookie will benefit more than most from downpours in the Ascot area.

Tip: Clever Cookie Top 3 in the King George at 3.50 on Betfair.

 

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Page 3 - This weeks Betting Opportunity Eye-Catchers.
Page 4 - Yours In Sport with Kevan Minter - The Colonel.
Page 6 - Wenger Can Win The Race Again!
Page 7 - Inverness Can Be Best of The Rest!
Page 8 - King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Page 10 - Glorious Goodwood Battle.

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