Horse Racing: Two promising picks from Ascot on King George day

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RACING expert Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) takes a look at some of the key races on Saturday.

13:25 | Princess Margaret Juddmonte Stakes | ITV

This race is a Group 3 for two-year-old fillies over six furlongs, and this looks a lot more competitive than the betting suggests. Some very unexposed types line up and the ground is different than most have experienced, however, there is one horse who has coped with it before and I make her the one to beat.

Nyaleti has finished second to two Aidan O’Brien fillies since winning her maiden and a repeat of either should see her go close. A straightforward type – she will be prominent and try and burn her rivals off. Her runs so far have been on the quicker ground and though there is no reason to doubt her ability to handle it, her rivals may enjoy it more.

Spring Cosmos won well on debut at Newmarket, where she looked well above average and this seems a logical next step for her. It’s hard to tell exactly what she beat  (favourite had run down the field in the Queen Mary) but with the natural improvement she’s shown – she could figure.

The one I really like here is the Richard Fahey trained Dance Diva, who is chasing a four timer. Her first two wins showed not only battling qualities but inexperience and she is sure to improve further. She won a listed race at Newmarket last time in good style and will love the fast pace and cut on the ground. I expect her to improve past Nyaleti here.

15:35 | King George VI Stakes | ITV

The King George – the highlight of the summer and a fantastic race is in prospect. The market has been turned on its head with the rain softening the ground and it certainly gives the race a different feel. I’ve changed my mind a few times this week who I’m going to back but I’ve come to a decision that an old favourite deserves one more chance.

Enable has been a revelation this season turning the English and Irish Oaks into processions. She is clearly a high-class filly, however, I’m left with the dilemma – is she a freak or is it just a poor division? The fact John Gosden is aiming her at this tells me he thinks she is very good and the weight allowances help, but she’s taken on proven global Group 1 winners here and I am prepared to take her on.

Highland Reel 10 days ago was a very short priced favourite for this but since the rain arrived he’s gone from as short as 6/5 to 6/1 at one point. He’s a multiple Group 1 winner who is defending his crown but I can’t back him. Without quick ground he is not as effective with a second to Dartmouth in a Hardwick Stakes his one run of note on the slower ground, so he’s begrudgingly ignored.

This takes us on to Jack Hobbs. On his day he is a machine. He was my start of year selection for this race and on the back of his win in Dubai on soft ground, I was feeling pretty confident. However, at Ascot, he flopped on quick ground and it may just be he needs softer ground at this level. I have backed him here.

Best Bets

13:25 Ascot – Dance Diva to win (5/2 SkyBet)

15:35 Ascot – Jack Hobbs to win (9/2 SkyBet)

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I grew up watching Hearts games with my dad and playing football at every opportunity so betting on it was the logical next step! Football coupons became a Saturday ritual and it introduced me into the world of horse racing. I started watching it on a regular basis, and after Galileo's Derby win in 2001 I was hooked. I follow both flat and national hunt racing attending the northern meetings when possible.

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