• Christopher Loader

King George 2019 Preview

This weekend arguably looks like the best flat race of 2019 so far in Britain and Ireland. We have a dual Arc winner in Enable, The Prince of Wales victor with Crystal Ocean and the Epsom Derby holder in Anthony Van Dyck. However we have some interesting contenders which include Group One winners such as Defoe and an international contingent from France and Japan. In this blog I will attempt to dissect this year’s renewal going through some of the key trends of the race in the past decade to identify the profile of the winner. Also I will give you my thoughts and recommended bets for the feature race on Saturday.

King George 2009-2018

When looking through the winner’s in the past decade, all the usual suspects of top jockey and  trainers appear. Sir Michael Stoute, John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien have all won the race and have the trio of the main contenders this year. Furthermore there have been some international runners that have come from Germany winning in 2012 & 2013, so all overseas contenders should be respected and not underestimated. Also it appears the three and four-year-old dominate the age department of the race, as only one horse older than four has won the race which came last year with Poet’s Word. Favourite’s don’t have the strongest record with only three winning favourites but horses that are prominent in the betting often win the race as the average price of the winner is 4-1. From looking at most of the winners, I think horses that are in form and on a progressive curve are  the ones to follow in the betting to win this prestigious race.

2019 King George Betting

The obvious place to start is with the legendary filly Enable who will be looking to add a second King George to her impressive roll of honour. On her seasonal reappearance she saw off some strong competition to claim the Group One Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. She drew a lot of plaudits and praise for her victory where I thought she was workman-like in her performance. I expect Enable to come forward from that run and be in better shape tomorrow. Some of my fellow journalists and pundits think that she could be vulnerable from the bounce factor running again so quickly. However I believe that even though she has been the best flat horse in training the last couple of years she could have the hardest race of her career tomorrow and she should be opposed. I think that people have forgotten the massive advantage she had as a three-year-old receiving the weight allowance which helped to her Group One victories, in the King George, Yorkshire Oaks and first Arc where she was probably at her best. Since then she has had setbacks which kept her out for a large part of last season and at the beginning of 2019. To me she doesn’t have the X-Factor as she did in 2017, but her class has still been enough to see her get through these challenging races. Enable does still receive an allowance with the mares and fillies but it is not as substantial as when she was at three. I expect her to be very close tomorrow but as a five-year-old and as race that is difficult to retain she could be vulnerable.

The main market rival to Enable is Crystal Ocean who is trained by Sir Michael Stoute. Stoute’s colt finally got his well-deserved Group One in the Princes of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot last month on ground that probably wouldn’t have suited. However tomorrow he should have more in his favour with ground and also trip which I think he prefers. Crystal Ocean does have prior form with Enable when they met at Kempton on the all-weather in the Group 3 September Stakes. That day Enable comfortably beat Crystal Ocean but I think he is an improved and better horse now. Crystal Ocean loves at Ascot and finished 2nd in this race last year but I think he is the typical Sir Michael Stoute horse that improves overtime and he is a worthy advisory to Gosden’s filly.

The other older British Group One winner in the field is Defoe who has always been a favourite horse of mine especially with he was a three-year-old. I thought he had probably peaked and was passed his best, but since he has been gelded he has shown a professional attitude. This was shown when he beat Kew Gardens in the Coronation Cup at Epsom. He then proved his effort was no fluke as he won the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot. After the race Roger Varian said this would be his next start. Even though he has definitely improved this season I just wonder if Defoe just lacks the class to win a race in this line up.

When it comes to the younger brigade of horses Anthony Van Dyck heads the way from the Aidan O’Brien powerhouse who got up to win the Epsom Derby. Consequently though he disappointed in a strange in the Irish Derby where he was beat by his stable mate Sovereign who made all that day. The Ballydoyle team have had some strange results in some of the top races this season and they are yet to outwit Enable after having goes with Highland Reel and Magical. Despite this Anthony Van Dyck will get the three-year-old allowance and deserves to take his chance in this race for top connections.

On the other hand I do like another one from the Ballydoyle team in the shape of Magic Wand. She does have to improve on the ratings but fillies can win this race which has been seen with Danehill Dream and Enable. She was unlucky last time in the Group One Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh where she was badly hampered by Iridessa and she nearly had to give a stone in weight away. Possibly her career best performance came here at Royal Ascot in 2018 when she was the Group 2 Ribblesdale in commanding four lengths. That form was franked by the second Wild Illusion winning the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. She likes to front-run and is well positioned to do that in stall one and if the ground remains good to firm she could massively outrun her odds.

When it comes to the international raiders it can be hard to gage their form. Andre Fabre’s Waldgeist finished third on ground that didn’t suit in the Prince of Wales and should prefer going up in trip tomorrow. My concern is he hasn’t ran well when he has travelled outside of France. Whilst on the other hand the Japanese runner Cheval Grand has run to a fair level finishing second to Old Persian in Dubai in the winter. However I think he lacks the class like Defoe to win this race and his form is unknown but as I said earlier these international runners should be respected.

When it comes to my conclusion for the race I believe this will be battle between Enable and Crystal Ocean. I think Enable has slightly weakened compared to when she was a three-year-old and Crystal Ocean is now at the peak of his powers meaning that both are probably are about level in their currently ability and I am predicting a close finish. If I had to choose an outright winner I think Crystal Ocean can back up his Prince of Wales performance and spring an upset. I also think Magical Wand can run a big race and make most of the running which might be enough to sneak a place. I think this race will be one the defining moments of the 2019 flat season.

King George Prediction

1. Crystal Ocean

2. Enable

3. Magic Wand

Recommended Bets

Crystal Ocean 10-3 (William Hill) 1pt Win

Magic Wand 66-1 (Skybet) 1pt EW

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