Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 22 March 2017

King George no soft touch, but Golden Horn can call tune

Frankie Dettori celebrates winning the Epsom Derby aboard this year’s three-year-old pin-up Golden Horn
Frankie Dettori celebrates winning the Epsom Derby aboard this year’s three-year-old pin-up Golden Horn

With an SP of 2/9, Nashwan remains the shortest priced winner of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes (3.50 Ascot) and it's no surprise to see parallels drawn between Nashwan and today's favourite Golden Horn.

Nashwan was the last horse to win the Derby, Eclipse and King George in the same season back in 1989 but there's one big difference between King George day 1989 and the 2015 renewal; the weather.

As it happens, Saturday July 22, 1989 was the hottest day of the year in Britain and temperatures at Heathrow airport, which is just 13 miles from Ascot, climbed above 34 degrees that afternoon.

It's a different story today and with heavy rain falling yesterday and overnight, Golden Horn has drifted in the betting and is expected to go off in the region of 4/7 with the bookmakers.

Yesterday evening, Golden Horn was 5/6 on the exchanges and although still short, it's quite a drift from the 1/2 available earlier on this week.

A mate of mine always tells me I'm either mad or stupid any time I back an odds-on horse but since the turn of the century Montjeu, Galileo, Hurricane Run and Duke Of Marmalade all came home in front at very short prices in this race.

That said, there are no guarantees in this game and I was one of those who lost a packet backing Workforce at 8/11 in 2010, only to see him come second last.

Golden Horn certainly seems the real deal and any questions about his stamina were answered emphatically with a brilliant win in the Derby.

But distance and going are two different types of stamina test, and the truth is that no one really knows how he'll do on softer ground with trainer John Gosden admitting as much on Thursday.

In the Eclipse, he faced a very different challenge to Epsom and he proved he can also make the running when he needs to - so at least he gets the thumbs up for versatility.

His stablemate and rival Eagle Top won his maiden on good to soft but has raced on better ground since and may also find today's going difficult.

It would be nice to see Richard Hughes win this race before he retires but even excluding age allowances, Eagle Top will have to find 11lbs to match the favourite so success today seems unlikely.

Depending on prices, Snow Sky could be one for the each-way backers considering he acts on most types of ground.

However, I'm not really one for opposing the favourite just for the sake of it and if he really is one of the greats, which I reckon he is, Golden Horn can overcome any obstacles including the ground to join Nashwan in the record books today.

Earlier on the same card, Besharah should be hard to beat in the Group Three Princess Margaret Juddmonte Stakes (2.05).

William Haggas' filly was a very good third behind Acapulco and Easton Angel in the Queen Mary Stakes here at the Royal meeting last month and she also won a maiden here on her debut.

More recently, she was second in a Group Two at Newmarket at 7/1 and while she's a bit below some of the best juvenile fillies around at the moment, she's quite consistent and generally runs to form. As such she's a confident bet at 6/4 this afternoon.

EACH-WAY

Rene MATHIS won the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket two weeks ago off 99 so today's mark of 100 under a 3lb penalty in the Gigaset International Stakes gives him a realistic chance of finishing in the money (3.15 Ascot).

Jockey Kieran Shoemark's 5lb claim should make a difference and the chestnut gelding has already beaten a number of today's opponents before. At 16/1, he can be taken each-way.

TODAY'S SELECTIONS

1.30 Ascot: Manaafidh

2.05 Ascot: Bearish

2.55 York: Custom Cut

3.15 Ascot: Rene Mathis (e/w)

3.50 Ascot: Golden Horn

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