Cowell sees Ground’s For Optimism

I thought I’d take a look at the King George Stakes today, as I attempt to get back to winning ways on the tipping front.

Established in 1911, the race was founded to commemorate the coronation of King George V. We can expect a lightning fast five furlongs, likely to be completed in around 56 seconds, some three seconds faster than your average King’s Stand at Royal Ascot.

As with many prestigious events, this Group 2 has been won by the good and great over the years. Lochsong was one of the stars to take this Goodwood sprint. Trained by Ian Balding, she was a powerful bay filly, and was renowned for scorching out of the stalls, before galloping her opposition into the turf. She took this race in 1993 and 1994, ridden on both occasions by Frankie Dettori. She swept all before her during those two outstanding seasons, winning the Nunthorpe in 1993, the King’s Stand Stakes in 94, and twice capturing the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp.

Muthmir scorched home last year, holding off Take Cover, with Cotai Glory back in fifth. Quick ground, and a fast five-furlong track are key to the William Haggas trained colt. He’s yet to ‘cut it’ at the very highest level, though his third place finish in the Prix de l’Abbaye last October was a mighty run. He should go well today in defence of his crown, though this year’s renewal looks particularly strong.

Goldream took the Abbaye last autumn, ahead of Muthmir, and is another that needs quick ground to be seen at his best. Trained by ‘Sprint King’ Robert Cowell, the now seven-year-old is a class act when conditions are in his favour. He’s not run since March, and that has to be a slight concern. Nevertheless, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t run a huge race.

It’s interesting to see a pair of three-year-olds heading the market, as the age group have a poor record in recent times. Moviesta is the only horse aged three to have won this race in the last 13 years. Older horses have a strong recent record, with a pair of seven-year-olds and one aged eight having hit the target in the last six years.

Fillies, Easton Angel and Marsha top the betting. A neck separated the pair at York last time, with the latter getting up late to snatch victory. Muthmir was just behind on that occasion, having been held up at the back of the field. The time was good that day, and all three should be in close proximity again this afternoon. I’m struggling to split them, though Easton Angel did travel like the best horse for much of the race at York, and could be tough to peg back if committed slightly earlier this time.

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Having rubbished three-year-olds recent record, another that has to have a great chance today is Aidan O’Brien’s Washington DC. He ran a cracker in the Darley July Cup, and a furlong out was involved in a ding-dong with King’s Stand winner Profitable. If anything, he looked to fade late-on that day, and this drop to five furlongs on quick ground may well suit. He also ran a terrific race in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot behind Quiet Reflection, again looking to fade as the line approached. His form is strong, and I fancy 12/1 is on the generous side.

Cotai Glory is another fancied by many to go well for Charlie Hills. He’s having a good season, though was slammed last time behind Limato in the July Cup. He looked a non-stayer that day, and had run a ‘stormer’ in the King’s Stand when just failing to overhaul Profitable on soft ground. I’m just not sure that he’s quick enough to win this race. He was fifth behind Muthmir last year, and although a better horse now, I think he’ll find a few that have more speed.

Take Cover is one such horse, and although he’s now nine he cannot be discounted. He was ahead of Cotai Glory at Haydock in May, and was second in this race 12 months ago having won it in 2014. The ground and track are ideal for the old campaigner, though his odds of 12’s are a little skinny. Had he been 20’s, he’d have been my each-way shout.

The race is deep, and the likes of Jungle Cat, Kachy, Move In Time and Divine all have realistic chances of making the frame. Indeed, the latter is fast improving, and ran arguably her best race last time when second to The Tin Man at Newbury. Whether she’s quite quick enough is questionable, though 25/1 looks a fair price.

I have to say that I’ve fallen in love with these sprints this year. Though they are always hard to fathom, they are always thrilling to watch. Goldream is the class act, and I’ll risk a few quid on him today. The dual Group 1 winner is currently 9/1. I also fancy Washington DC, and he’s just about an each-way price at 12’s. The pair will do for me.

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