The French raiders Cirrus Des Aigles and Very Nice Name are set to dominate the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot today
With only the mighty Frankel being rated higher last season Cirrus Des Aigles looks to have the King George at his mercy. Some punters may be put off by what appeared to be a lacklustre seasonal reappearance at Saint Cloud behind the German horse Novellist, but they would be wise to remember that the French Champion needs a run to come right and was only 60% that day according to connections. If the 2011 QIPCO Champion Stakes winner is anywhere near his best he will simply outclass his rivals in what looks to be a weak King George field. If misfortune had not visited O’Brien’s St Nicholas Abbey this week, he would have come here with the only real chance of upsetting the favourite. When St Nicholas Abbey won the Sheema Classic in the spring he had the useful Very Nice Name behind him. With strong form in the Middle-East the french four-year-old may be being overlooked by the market. Quoted at around 20/1 he may prove to be the value in the race. Interestingly Hillstar was supplemented for the race at the cost of £75,000 and was impressive when beating Battle of Marengo at the Royal meeting. Progressive he may be, but that form does not look strong and neither does that of the fancied Trading Leather. The three-year-olds look a lesser crop. Crockford will not be surprised if it is a French one-two.
Mukhadram would have been a fancied runner if he had been entered into the King George, but he has bypassed the race to take on his rivals in the Group Two York Stakes at the Knavesmire this afternoon. The most telling sign for his chances is that Paul Hanagan has travelled to York to ride him rather than take the ride on Ektihaam in the big race at Ascot. The Apache for the South African maestro Mike De Kock is a fascinating entry into the contest.
Excellent supporting cards at Ascot and York provide competitive contests. Cape Peron, Excellent Guest and Prince of Johanne will show better today than they did at the Royal meeting. The Ryans may also pull off a surprise with the useful Bogart in the big sprint at York.
Crockford’s Dead Cert – Cirrus Des Aigles (King George – Ascot 3.50)
Really one of the only horses to ever trouble Frankel this French superstar will have the beating of what looks to be a sub-standard field in the King George. His trainer believed him to be only 60% on his seasonal debut when he was only beaten four lengths. Now allegedly in the form of his life he is a Dead Cert. The course and ground will not present problems.
Crockford’s Whisper – Ortac Rock e/w (Newcastle 3.05)
Strong whisper this week for this recent Epsom winner. With a new stable expect further improvement at a big price. He is certainly better than claiming class of his last victory. A big price will make him each way value.
Archer’s Selection – Mukhadram (York 2.55)
Archer would have noticed the progression of this last season Cambridgeshire runner. His battles with Al Kazeem this year and how Paul Hanagan has taken the ride would have given Archer unrivalled confidence in this runner. The only danger is the South African dark horse The Apache.
Crockford’s gambles around the courses this afternoon:
Ascot – Wind Fire (2.05), Cape Peron and Machete Mark e/w (2.40), Excellent Guest e/w and Prince of Johanne e/w (3.15), Cirrus Des Aigles and Very Nice Name e/w (3.50) and Graphic (4.25)
York – Velvety (1.50), Smarty Socks (2.20), Mukhadram (2.55), Bogart e/w (3.30), Hot Streak (4.05) and Crackentorp e/w (4.40)
Newmarket – Rockalong e/w (2.45) and Body and Soul e/w (3.55)
Newcastle – Maxie T (1.55) and Ortac Rock e/w (3.05)
(Featured Photograph – Frankel and Cirrus Des Aigles do battle in the QIPCO Champion Stakes by Stuart Rice)