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Rowleyfile Preview: 2018 King George V Handicap


Simon Rowlands analyses the King George V Handicap on day three of Royal Ascot 2018 and recommends two each-way bets.

The King George V Handicap may lack the glamour of some of the other races at Royal Ascot, but it sometimes takes a future Group horse to win it and that possibility exists again this year. Which of the 19 declared runners (plus two reserves) that winner might be is the tricky bit!

In terms of pointers from the last 10 years, the following trends may help to sort the wheat from the chaff.

It may come as a surprise that low-drawn horses have underperformed – notably in terms of Impact Values and % of Rivals Beaten – given that such horses are nearest to the rail and 12f is anything but a sprint trip. But that effect has endured in big-field handicaps at the course for some time now. Those on the inside tend either to have to go too fast to get a position or get carried back as others come across.

Less counter-intuitively, multiple winners, especially last-time winners, higher up the handicap and with a good chance on Timeform weight-adjusted ratings, have tended to do well. It may take a while for the cream to reach the top, but it should be heading that way by this stage.

In terms of the current form of the various trainers, there is plenty of cream also. Aidan and Joseph O’Brien are top in handicaps in the last month with 71.5% and 71.1% Rivals Beaten respectively, followed by John Gosden (61.3%), Andrew Balding (59.1%) and Hughie Morrison (58.5%).

That list does not include Mark Johnston, who is responsible for six of the declared runners, but he is on 57.7% and doing pretty well also.

Charlie Appleby – rampant earlier in the year – is now operating at an unremarkable 52.9%, but had no problem getting the job done with Blue Point on day one. He has two strong contenders for this at the top of the weights in Dubhe and Cross Counter.

The latter in particular appeals, having come second in a strong minor contest at Sandown last time in which he was heavily penalised and unsuited by the steady pace, making late gains but unable to get in a blow at the highly-promising Elwazir.

Cross Counter is not a copper-bottomed stayer at this longer trip, but his style certainly suggests it may benefit him. He is drawn in 11 (becomes 10 in the presumed absence of the reserves) and deserves to be favourite in my book.

It is a job in itself to figure out which of the Johnston sextet will come out on top, but my preference would be for Making Miracles, drawn in 14 (becomes 13), who looks a typical stable grinder in the making.

He took a while to get going at York but actually put in some sharp late sectionals that day when just denied by stable-companion Baghdad (who was more favourably placed approaching the closing stages) then trotted up in a small contest at Leicester a few days later.

That York race could be one of the key pieces of form going into this, for it resulted in a decent timefigure, despite an early pace that was less than demanding, and took place on ground that may have been even firmer than that which will obtain at the Royal Meeting this week.

What seems likely is that the pace in the King George V Handicap will be honest enough to bring out Making Miracles’ (and others’) stamina. Baileys Excelerate and Elegiac go from the front and plenty else in the field may not be far behind them.

In terms of how to play the race from a betting point of view, this is one of several handicaps during the week in which each-way is more optimal than win only (assuming the same amount in total is staked in each instance). The win book at early prices was a giving-nothing-away 133%, but the place book was 107%.

This is not a race to play big in light of those numbers, and it certainly looks one of the tougher contests this week to unravel, but having both Cross Counter and Making Miracles on your side should give you a fighting chance of picking up something at the end of the day.


0.5 pt each way CROSS COUNTER, ¼ the odds first four places


0.5 pt each way MAKING MIRACLES, ¼ the odds first four places



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Wednesday 20 March
Danny Cook silk Danny Cook
Sue Smith hot trainer
Brian Hughes silk Brian Hughes
Nicky Richards
3. CHAMBARD (FR) 133
Charlie Deutsch silk Charlie Deutsch
Venetia Williams
Go to Full Race



1st Fergus Gregory silk 6. ROQUE IT (IRE) 9/43.25
2nd Jordan Nailor silk 1 5. REDFORD ROAD 11/26.5
3rd Mr Jamie Neild silk ¾ 2. LANTIERN (IRE) 8/19
J: Fergus Gregory (5)  
T: Olly Murphy  
All 9 ran.


1st Tom Buckley silk 10. LAMH AR LAMH (IRE) 4/15
2nd Jason Dixon silk 5 7. MR MAGILL (FR) 12/113
3rd Jonjo O'Neill Jr. silk ½ 1. MRS MIGGINS (IRE) 11/26.5
J: Tom Buckley (8)  
T: Nigel Hawke  
All 10 ran.


1st Wayne Hutchinson silk 4. SHESHOON SONNY (FR) 8/131.61f
2nd Richie McLernon silk 2. DHOWIN (IRE) 11/112
T: Alan King  
All 6 ran.


1st Patrick Cowley silk 4. TORRENT DES MOTTES (FR) 8/19
2nd Lewis Stones silk 13 9. SPROGZILLA 20/121
3rd Page Fuller silk 6 8. BROTHER BENNETT (FR) 9/43.25f
J: Patrick Cowley (5)  
All 9 ran.


1st Harry Bannister silk 1. LIKE THE SOUND (FR) 9/25.5
2nd Adam Wedge silk 1 2. POBBLES BAY (IRE) 4/15
T: Charlie Mann  
All 5 ran.


1st Billy Garritty silk 3. CARALINE (FR) 4/15
2nd Paddy Brennan silk 2. LOUGH SALT (IRE) 2/13f
J: Billy Garritty (7)  
All 5 ran.


1st Alan Johns silk 7. COOPERS SQUARE (IRE) 9/43.25f
2nd Sam Twiston-Davies silk 6. PRAY FOR A RAINBOW 12/113
3rd Kielan Woods silk 22 2. RED ADMIRABLE (IRE) 12/113
J: Alan Johns  
T: Tom Weston  
All 8 ran.


1st James Davies silk 3. MARMONT 15/28.5
2nd Mr Bryan Carver silk 1 4. MIDNIGHT MIDGE 13/82.62f
J: James Davies  
T: Jo Davis  
All 7 ran.


1st Sean Quinlan silk 5. BORDER VICTOR 3/14f
2nd David Bass silk 1 8. GALLOWS POINT 8/19
3rd Nathan Moscrop silk ¾ 4. DULCE PANEM (FR) 6/17
J: Sean Quinlan  
All 11 ran.
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