Racing Expert & Columnist
Alex Hammond: Not to be Mist!
Watch King George Weekend live on Sky Sports Racing from 1pm on Friday and Saturday
Last Updated: 27/07/19 3:26pm
Sky Sports Racing's Alex Hammond looks ahead to a mouthwatering King George on Saturday in this week's blog, while she has a few weekend selections as well.
Talk us through what looks an amazing King George. Can any horse beat Enable on Saturday?
Well Enable will take on 10 rivals, including the Prince of Wales's Stakes winner and the Derby winner, in what could be the race of the year at Ascot on Saturday, so she's no certainty.
There are particular race days that live long in the memory, the sort of occasions that you can recall for the rest of your life and I think Saturday could be one of those such days if she can rise once again to the challenge.
It's an incredibly sporting gesture by owner Khalid Abdullah to keep this super mare in training at the age of five and I truly hope he is rewarded with a second King George and an historic third Arc at ParisLongchamp in October.
When Enable won her first King George, it was as a three year-old, which meant she received weight off her older rivals. This time, it is she that will have to give weight to Anthony Van Dyck, with the Derby winner getting an 11lb weight concession from his elders (as a female, Enable gets a 3lb allowance, so will carry 8lb more than Aidan O'Brien's colt).
I hope the mathematics haven't bogged you down too much, but you get my point. Aidan O'Brien has already achieved the Derby/King George double with Galileo, the sire of Anthony Van Dyck, but this colt doesn't necessarily strike me as even the best three-year-old in Ballydoyle this season, so it won't be an easy task to emulate.
Since his Epsom heroics, he has been turned over by a big-priced stablemate in the Irish Derby and it's interesting to see he will wear cheekpieces for the first time on Saturday.
Crystal Ocean may be the one to fear most as his trainer Sir Michael Stoute bids to win the race for an impressive seventh time. He gained a well-deserved Group One victory at Royal Ascot in the Prince of Wales's Stakes and should be even better back up to a mile and a half here.
He was only beaten a neck by stablemate Poet's Word in last year's King George and is officially rated 2lb higher than Enable (although her 3lb sex allowance negates that).
Let's not get stuck into technicalities though, this will be about star quality and a bit of luck; Enable has the former in spades and given a drop of the second should further cement her name in racing history.
Frankie Dettori celebrates on Enable
There are some good supporting races at Ascot on Saturday, what takes your fancy?
Well with Enable an 8/13 shot with Sky Bet for the King George, we turn to the International Stakes for our big betting race of the day.
There are so many horses you could make a case for in this ultra-competitive seven-furlong handicap, but the one that jumps off the page at me is Blue Mist at 12/1 with Sky Bet.
Roger Charlton's four-year-old probably doesn't want lightning fast ground, but speaking of lightning, there are rain showers forecast after this stifling heatwave subsides and that might keep the ground right for him.
He ran too badly to be true at Ayr last time out, but was sixth on his seasonal debut over this course and distance in the Victoria Cup behind Cape Byron and a reproduction of that will see him go close. He's still lightly raced and there should be more improvement to come.
The proviso of course, is that the ground isn't too quick. In the event that it is good to firm or thereabouts, I'll be with Lush Life each way (16/1).
Jamie Osborne is putting headgear on his filly for the first time and isn't messing about as he's going the whole hog with blinkers. She is a course and distance winner and is held in some regard by her trainer; the excellent Nicola Currie rides.
The Sky Bet Dash takes centre stage up at York, who will you be backing in that, or in any of the other races on the Knavesmire this weekend?
The Go Racing in Yorkshire Summer Festival has been good fun this week and hopefully our motley crew of tipsters will have raised some cash for charity over the last week.
We are off to York on Saturday and I like the look of one in the Sky Bet York Stakes, the Group Two over 1m 2½f. Regal Reality is Sky Bet's 11/8 favourite, but he looked a handful in the Eclipse and despite his obvious ability, I'm happy to take him on at the prices.
Elarqam has a bit to find on official ratings, but I really like Mark Johnston's colt and think there is still more to come from him.
Bangkok is obviously a danger as a three year-old getting weight off his rivals, but he has had a pretty tough season so far and needs the drop back to a mile and a quarter to bring out the best in him. If it chucks it down then Addeybb comes into the mix too, it looks a quality contest.
As for the Sky Bet Dash, it's an obvious call, but David O'Meara and Danny Tudhope are a formidable partnership at the moment and they team up with Gulliver in this competitive six-furlong handicap.
It's an indication of the openness of the race that he's 7/1 favourite, but I'd take that if he can follow up his course and distance win last time out off this 5lb higher mark.