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King Edward VII Stakes preview

The previews kept rolling out, this one for another option for the classic generation, the King Edward VII Stakes. The favourite's rather short but he might just have plenty on these if he has recovered from his Derby exertions. Taking up the reins for the preview is one-time regular contributor, James Jack, @materialista27.

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King Edward VII Stakes

The King Edward VII Stakes is a Group 2 run over a mile and a half exclusively for 3 year old colts and geldings. It has traditionally been viewed as Ascot's version of the Derby, but this year only includes one runner from the Epsom field in fourth placed Battle of Marengo. Previous winners include Ella-Mana-Mou who went on to triumph in the Eclipse and King George the following year, and more recently Dubai World Cup winner Monterosso, and King George and Eclipse winner Nathaniel. This year looks like a weak renewal, with only Battle of Marengo carrying the extra three pounds for his win in the Derrinstown in May. Everyone else carries 8-12 and the winner will walk away with £99,242.50, though I guess the Coolmore boys won't be too worried about the 50p.

1 Battle of Marengo (5)
Joseph O'Brien for Aiden O'Brien - OR 117
As I mentioned, winner of the Derrinstown Derby trial and fourth in The Derby at Epsom behind stablemate Ruler Of The World. He beat Loch Garman at Leopardstown who finished a disappointing 10th in the Prix du Jockey Club and Little White Cloud who finished second behind O'Brien's Leading Light in the Gallinule Stakes. His Derby form is a little more exciting, obviously beating Dawn Approach who won the St James's Palace Stakes on Tuesday, but more importantly, he finished two lengths in front of Mars, who finished third on Tuesday, and as he should be suited by the extra half mile, even without a Ballydoyle pacemaker, and should be too good for this field. O'Brien's horses are in good form this week, and Joseph has ridden a couple of winners himself. Look for a more restrained ride than he was given in The Derby, as he set off for home too early, and was caught in the last half furlong or so. If Joseph can stay put until the last furlong then this race is his to lose.

2 Contributer (6)
Frankie Dettori for Ed Dunlop - OR 101
Not as impressive form as Battle of Marengo, as he finished a well beaten second in the Dee Stakes at Chester behind Magician and although Magician cruised home in the Irish 2000 Guineas, he was out of touch in the St James's Palace. Contributer was also well beaten by Disclaimer in the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood while not seeming to stay over 11f, and although some of that could be explained by the undulating nature of Goodwood, yet he didn't respond when asked to finish inside the final furlong. It remains to be seen whether further improvement will be seen, and a return to Listed company later in the season may be a better option.

3 Fantastic Moon (7)
Kieren Fallon for Jeremy Noseda - OR 102
The best form for Fantastic Moon is his 5th, just a neck behind Derby 2nd and Godolphin new boy Libertarian at Sandown in his last run. He did beat Tha'ir in a Group 3 as a two year old, winning the Solario Stakes but he clearly hasn't progressed from there and after finishing 5th in the Royal Lodge and a nine length 10th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, he looks to have actually regressed as a three year old. I don't see him suddenly finding form, despite having nearly two months off to freshen up. A return to a mile looks like a better fit, but he's not of the class to compete in this one.

4 Greatwood (2)
Richard Hughes for Luca Cumani - OR 103
His best run came at Newmarket in the Tattersalls Millions 3-y-o trophy when just touched off by Newmarket specialist Windhoek. It was a grinding run, gradually wearing down the winner, but for better luck in-running, could've won. It didn't appear that he enjoyed his run at York where he finished 7th in the Dante behind Libertarian. On the balance of that run, he shouldn't trouble Battle Of Marengo although he may appreciate the step up in trip. Look for Hughes to hold him up and try and pick off tired horses in the home straight. He has a place chance, but has yet to win a race on grass, and this shouldn't be his first.

5 Havana Beat (3)
William Buick for Andrew Balding - OR 100
Finished a mile behind Ruler Of The World in the Chester Vase (7½ lengths, but as good as a mile) and a length and a half behind Mister Impatience who was subsequently beaten by Tha'ir in a Listed Race at HQ a month ago. Hard to see him get anywhere near winning this as he plugged home a length and a bit behind Greatwood at Newmarket. I don't see him staying the trip and is still questionable even at a mile and a quarter. He may turn out to be a decent handicapper, but Group races certainly look beyond him.

6 Hillstar (8)
Ryan Moore for Sir Michael Stoute - OR 95
A glorified handicapper, and has disappointed on his last two runs, finishing second as a short priced favorite. Although he has progressed up the weights, he hasn't shown much to suggest he'll crack Group level. High Troja beat him at Newbury on his latest outing, but that form looks poor, as High Troja finished 3rd in a Class 2 event behind Soviet Rock who also beat Hillstar at Newmarket in April. It remains to be seen how much Hillstar has to give in this event, but trying this new trip (2f further than his previous couple of runs) may provide more improvement. If that doesn't do the job, then a return to handicapping and a drop in trip may follow.

7 Mutashaded (4)
Paul Hanagan for Roger Varian - OR 88
A thoroughly unexposed beast, he comes into this having only run twice. He beat the aforementioned High Troja in his debut at Yarmouth, unfortunately, none of the other horses he beat that day have gone on to do anything significant. In his second start, he won a Class 3 handicap at Sandown in a more impressive style. Sadly, every other horse he beat that day disappointed at last week at Sandown. So, although we have no concrete form to go on, his sire, Raven's Pass excelled later in his career, and it's reasonable to expect some improvement as he continues his career. Stamina is also unproven, but the step between a mile and a mile and a quarter didn't seem to bother him, so we may have to wait and see how he progresses. Looks like a main competitor for second, and could be one to follow next season.

8 Tha'ir (1)
Silvestre De Sousa for Saeed bin Suroor - OR 100
The most exposed of the field, he ran seven times as a two year old, the highlight of which being his victory in the Chesham at the Royal festival last year. That was however his last win and although he was just touched off by a head by Fantastic Moon at Sandown in the Solario Stakes last September, he was beaten on his seasonal reappearance by Hoarding in a Listed contest over a mile and a quarter at HQ. He did however flop when in Group 1 company at Longchamp in the Grand Criterium, though that may be excused due to the heavy ground. He seemed to appreciate the step up in trip at Newmarket and would certainly enjoy quick ground on offer at Ascot. Still, there are too many questions to be answered to have an investment this time, though a return to Listed company on fast ground may be ideal later in the summer.

VERDICT
BATTLE OF MARENGO is a class apart from the rest of the field, and on the face of it, should win this easily. If he can replicate anything like his form from The Derby, he'll be OK in this. Joseph O'Brien needs to be patient with his ride and allow his horse to show it's class close to the finish. It looks like any early pace will come from Hillstar, but it's hold-up horses for the most part in this race, so if any of these pilots fancy taking a flier and stealing this from the front, they may find themselves in the money at the line. Mutashaded looks like a prospect and could make a jump in form stepping up in trip, while Greatwood will benefit from plenty of room and one of the best hold-up riders in the business.

ADVICE
4pts Greatwood without Battle of Marengo
2pts Mutashaded without Battle of Marengo
1pt EW Mutashaded
1pt trifecta 1-7-4
1pt trifecta 1-4-7

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