Johnson's Heavy Metal looks like he's ready to rock
MARK Johnston started the week with the first, third and fourth in the opener and kept up a similar pace in the first race yesterday with a one-two.
The Middleham trainer can land today's big betting race, the Betfred Mile, with Heavy Metal just six days after the gelding won the valuable International Stakes at Ascot.
Typically for one of Johnston's horses, Heavy Metal has not been standing idle in his stable since he won the Richmond Stakes here as a two-year-old. But he lost his way at three and dropped down the handicap. This season, however, he has finally fulfiled the promise he showed in glimpses as a juvenile.
He comes here in terrific form, as well as still looking nicely treated with just a 3lb penalty for his win on Saturday, when he travelled supremely well in a big field to beat Don't Bother Me by a length. After two wins over seven furlongs, the step back up to a mile should be no bother to him.
Luca Cumani's Velox looks like being sent off the favourite following a three-length win at Sandown on Eclipse day. That race took a bit of winning, but the victory will have done him the world of good and he will have drawn a lot of confidence. He looks the main threat.
The second tier of sprinters are out in force for the Group Two Betfred King George Stakes over Goodwood's fast and furious five furlongs. Tropics ran the race of his life in the July Cup to finish a length and-a-half second to Slade Power, probably the best sprinter in Europe at the moment. That was on the back of a good effort for a long way in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
He ran well to finish sixth in last year's Stewards Cup, but he may be vulnerable on very quick ground and must prove that Newmarket was no fluke. The in-form Extortionist, which beat Kingsgate Native over Sandown's stiff five furlongs last time, can capitalise if Tropics does not turn up with his 'A' game.
The 2012 St Leger winner Encke, the highest profile of the 22 Godolphin horses banned last year as part of the Mahmood Al Zarooni drugs scandal, makes his comeback in the Coutts Glorious Stakes.
He is now in the care of Al Zarooni's successor, Charlie Appleby. (© Daily Telegraph, London)