Danedream set to score for Germans
SHE initially had problems with her public image, but during World War II, the Queen consort Elizabeth (or the Queen Mother as she was later known) gained respect for standing up to the Germans alongside her husband, King George VI, when she refused to leave London during the blitz.
"The children won't leave without me. I won't leave without the King -- and the King will never leave," she declared.
Interestingly, the race that carries both their names, The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (4.35 Ascot), has never been won by a German-trained horse (not that a huge number have contested it), but the Peter Schiergen-trained Danedream ticks all the right boxes to put that right.
This year's renewal is top notch, which partly explains why the Cologne-based selection is trading at a double-figure price on the exchanges and, while I don't underestimate the quality of the opposition, the 2011 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner risks being overlooked in the betting, with punters getting stuck into Nathanial and Sea Moon instead.
St Nicholas Abbey had been the ante-post favourite, but he went cold in the market and now trades around the 3/1 mark.
On Thursday, a mate who works in Ladbrokes assured me that there was no obvious reason for the drift in price, but, to be honest, I wasn't too keen on the five-year-old anyway, partly because he appears to have a preference for going left-handed and he also likes better ground.
Coral reported some reasonable sized bets for the son of Montjeu on Thursday and he may well be vying for favouritism if more money arrives.
Regarding Nathanial (5/2), I can't really say anything negative about last year's winner following a fine display in the Coral-Eclipse, although I wonder if that race -- his seasonal debut -- was a little tough on the colt and it should be noted that the gap between the Coral-Eclipse and the King George is a little shorter than normal this year.
Sea Moon (11/4) is still unbeaten in two starts this season and certainly has strong claims, but I have Danedream right up there with the market leaders on ability, so at the prices, she's an each way no-brainer for me. Last year's victory in Paris is by far her strongest form and, while she hasn't been running to that level this season, her fourth place of four runners in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud can be overlooked as the race lacked any pace due to the small field.
A competitive 10-runner field at Ascot will almost certainly see her improve and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the prize money go back to Germany.
Another one to watch is the Japanese horse, Deep Brillante, which is generally available at 16/1.
He's already won over £2m and as the only three-year-old in the field, he gets a very handy 12lb weight allowance.
At 16/1 and higher, Van Ellis is worth a shot in the Betfair Summer Double International Stakes at Ascot (3.55). Mark Johnston's colt had plenty in hand when winning a fairly strong handicap at Chester, but the handicapper has still left room for improvement and another strong run is expected.
2.10 Ascot: Tornado
3.10 Newmarket: Bible Belt
3.55 Ascot: Van Ellis (e/w)
4.35 Ascot: Danedream (e/w)