The King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes takes place at Ascot on Saturday, with iconic trainer Sir Michael Stoute seeking to continue his love affair with the Berkshire track by landing a record-breaking sixth win.
The trainer has two of the leading contenders and the market is finding it hard to split them up, but an in-form rider might make all the difference.
Poet’s Word, Ascot 3.40 to win @ 5/2
Poet’s Word is still improving at five years of age and set himself a new benchmark last month when winning the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Ascot over 1m2f, flooring odds-on favourite Cracksman in doing so. The same rival had beaten him by seven lengths on British Champions Day last season at Ascot.
John Gosden’s charge appears to have regressed or else he is longing for that autumn ease in the ground. Cracksman is down to run here but will surely only do so if it rains substantially. Stablemate Crystal Ocean may be the biggest barrier and has usurped Poet’s Word as favourite for now.
He won the Hardwicke Stakes over C&D last month at the royal meeting and is a big danger, but Poet’s Word has a sharper turn of foot and that could be difference. James Doyle rides and is in supreme form as his much-talked-about Irish Oaks success emphasised last week.
The step up in trip is no concern and Doyle and Poet’s Word are the pairing to be with in Saturday’s feature.
Cardsharp, Ascot 3.00 each-way @ 18/1
It could be a big afternoon for Doyle, who is boasting a healthy 32 per cent strike-rate from his last 50 rides and holds an outside chance on Mark Johnston’s Cardsharp in the International Stakes.
He was a pretty decent Group-race performer as a juvenile and has already scored this season in Listed class at Salisbury in June.
More recently, he ran a stormer in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket, finishing just 1L down in fourth spot behind the re-opposing Burnt Sugar.
The penalty he carried in that race means he’s now set to race on better terms with many of the rivals he squares off against once more and is an appealing each-way proposition.
Trouble And Strife, Lingfield 6.00 to win @ 7/4
Hopefully after a busy afternoon’s racing there’ll still be time to catch an evening winner at Lingfield in their turf meeting.
Sir Mark Prescott has his team purring at the moment and Trouble And Strife is fancied to continue on an upward curve by taking this staying handicap over 1m6f.
The Declaration Of War filly has twice won at the track recently and doesn’t seem likely to be put out by this extra yardage.
She faces another rival in decent nick in the form of Surrey Blaze but appears to have more scope for progress, while Luke Morris could be a game-changer in the saddle if push comes to shove.
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