For consistency and his tough-as-teak attitude, Azamour is a respected favourite for Saturday’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Newbury. This is a horse that punters love. He is never quirky, never skittish and he always gives 110 per cent. But there are reasons to oppose him at the price. He has never tried to race over more than 10 furlongs and there is no point backing a doubtful stayer at 13/8. Grey Swallow has won over this distance but that was in a very average Irish Derby. At the odds, it is worth chancing last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Bago.
He has run badly this season but his shrewd trainer Jonathan Pease says he is back to his best. Against this field his best is good enough and if 5/1 is available today as you read this it is a steal (for the ultra-conservative among you, an each-way will net a return if the horse is placed). Azamour and second-favourite Grey Swallow will be digging deep into reserves of energy over the last two furlongs. Bago will be staying on.
The Totesport International Stakes is a splendid aperitif. Peter Paul Rubens looks sure to win a big prize this year but with his odds shortening Crosspeace might be worth a second look. Trainer Mark Johnston has the knack of priming a horse for a pay-day and at 16/1 he looks each-way value.
In the Skybet Dash at York, top-weight La Cucaracha looks sure to run a big race on her favoured fast ground.
2:55 York – La Cucaracha (win)
3:45 Newbury – Crosspeace (each-way)
4:20 Newbury – Bago (win)