On the day that the Ascot Gold Cup has been renamed in honour of The Queen’s 90th birthday, there would hardly be a bigger cheer if Her Majesty’s Guy Fawkes could win the King George V Handicap, the race named in recognition of her grandfather.
It would not come as any surprise if the William Haggas-trained colt has been laid out for this race for some time, but on bare form he does need to improve if he is going to provide the Royal Ascot crowd with grounds for a right royal post-race celebration.
This mile-and-a-half three-year-old handicap is always a fiendishly difficult puzzle to solve, but Guy Fawkes – named after the man who tried to blow up the British parliament in 1605 – is certainly improving.
Guy Fawkes, Value Bet (14/1)
He followed his distant third in a lowly Wolverhampton maiden on the Tapeta back in December with a very pleasing effort at Redcar recently, where he led from an early stage before staying-on strongly to score by over three lengths in a 10-furlong maiden. At current odds of 14/1 he appeals as a value each-way bet.
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Sir Michael Stoute is seeking his fifth win in the race and the bookies make his Sea The Stars colt Shraaoh the 8/1 ante-post favourite.
Like Guy Fawkes, Shraaoh has had three runs, and got his head in front last time out in a Newcastle maiden on the Gosforth Park track’s new much-heralded Tapeta surface where he scored by an impressive six lengths from William Haggas’ well regarded Wave Reviews.
He could be well ahead of his handicap mark and will be a danger to all for a man that knows just what is required to land this ultra-competitive event.
Red Verdon (10/1)
It’s hard to believe that Ed Dunlop’s Red Verdon, an excellent sixth in the Investec Derby last week – where he was unlucky-in-running and might have finished at least fourth otherwise – will drop back to handicap company and take in this race.
He is offered at 10/1, which would be an outstanding price, but this exciting long-term prospect will surely tackle more lofty targets in the weeks and months to come.
Jumps trainer Alan King is more than capable of landing a big winner on the Flat and his four-timer seeking Primitivo will undoubtedly have plenty of supporters.
Winner of a Windsor nursery at the end of last season, the Excellent Art gelding landed a competitive Newbury handicap on his seasonal return in May, then followed up under his 6lb penalty with a very impressive win at Sandown just 6 days later.
Given time to get over those two quick races, the current 10/1 shot will go to Ascot with a big chance and is another granted huge respect.
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Tathqeef (12/1) and Mustajeer (14/1)are others to note – both still unexposed and potentially better than their current marks – but Cartago (16/1), hampered at Epsom last week but previously runner-up to the highly regarded Imperial Aviator, could well be one very much for the shortlist if John Gosden has managed to sweeten him up for this race, a contest the champion trainer hasn’t landed since sending out Heritage to win under Frankie Dettori way back in 1997.
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