This has been the summer of many things. The summer of heat – and yes, the melting weather is set to continue this week – the summer of sport, and the summer of Sir Michael Stoute. The legendary handler has had a spectacular renaissance on the big stage and the market gives him a fantastic chance of landing the King George for the sixth time.
We look at the key runners below but whatever your fancy make your bets with novibet.co.uk.
Crystal Ocean is the current favourite, having won all three of his starts this season – typical of Sir Michael Stoute’s excellent record with older horses – although his career best performance was probably his St Leger second. Irish Derby winner Capri hasn’t been seen since but third Stradavarius has since won the Gold Cup, and Melbourne Cup winner Reklindling was behind with Lancashire Oaks winner Coronet further back still.
It will take a good one to stop him but it is Stoute again who might have a ready-made answer in the shape of Poet’s Word. He was already knocking at the door last year, finishing with a late rattle to take second in the Irish Champion Stakes, and then he was a good second in the Champion Stakes itself when Cracksman was miles clear in the deep ground here over 1m2f.
A visit to Hong Kong ended with a respectable sixth and this season he has continued to improve, with a good second in the Sheema Classic before a smooth win in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes. He was not expected to upset Cracksman in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes but he was always travelling better before finding more on the fast surface that suited him more than the long odds on favourite and he eventually won comprehensively.
That form could be the best we’ve seen this season and we know he is fully adaptable and if anything might like this trip even more based on his previous form here and earns the vote of the two at the head of the market.
Aidan O’Brien’s main challenger looks to be Kew Gardens, who has progressed a lot again in the summer. He was superb in winning the Queen’s Vase and then gritty to win the Grand Prix De Paris, but the former was over 1m6f and the latter was a very poor Group 1. He must improve rapidly if he’s to be involved. De Ex Bee was third in the Grand Prix De Paris, that coming off a poor effort in the Irish Derby when the stop start pace was blamed amongst other things, but he looks exposed now. Nelson was used as a pacemaker then and has a future as a stayer, but perhaps not here.
Cliffs Of Moher was fourth in the Prince Of Wales’s and then ran a better race when third in the Hardwicke and the Coral-Eclipse. A really strongly run race is important to his chances, but he hasn’t found a way to win at the top level yet and others appear superior to him – it’s also possible his progress has plateaued.
More interesting from his quarter still entered is Hydrangea. She ran like a wilting flower when well supported for the Duke of Cambridge stakes, but had previously made a fair return from a long break in the Lanwades Stud Stakes and on Champions Day here, she had beaten Bateel by two lengths with Coronet further behind in a gutsy success in the Filles and Mares’ Stakes. If back to her best, she could outrun odds of 25/1 easily.
Waldgeist has found his best three-year-old form recently and just nosed out Coronet in the Grand Prix De Saint-Cloud last time. Both have to be considered each/way contenders and it’s possible that Coronet has improved since the St Leger over a more suitable trip, although they have improvement to make still. Salouen so nearly caught out Cracksman in the Coronation Cup under a great ride from Silvestre de Sousa, and he backed that up with a decent third in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. He should run well although this is a step up once again.
Rostropovich loves fast ground and has run really well in the King Edward and Irish Derby to finish second both times. However, is that as good as he is? He’ll need to find more.
Cracksman will miss the race – there is no let-up forecast in the weather – but there has been an overreaction to his close-run win in the Coronation Cup and his second in the Prince Of Wales’s and he still makes a great deal of appeal for the Arc, amongst other targets.
Desert Encounter is a solid and admirable horse who found 10 furlongs too short at Newbury last time, but he’s already well held by Poet’s Word and it will be hard for him to strike a blow.
2 pts win Poet’s Word (9/4 Hills, Bet365)