Magician looks set to do the trick in King George

Magician, with Joseph O'Brien up, on the way to winning the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas last year. Picture: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

The going is key to this afternoon’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at Ascot, with very few of the eight runners suited by cut in the ground.

Early yesterday afternoon the description was given as ‘good to firm’, from ‘good to firm, good in places’, and yet just three hours later, following heavy rain, it was officially ‘good to soft’.

Should it deteriorate further, to soft, it would be no surprise to see the field depleted.

Telescope, who goes under the punters' microscope as he bids to add to his runaway success in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, suffered two comprehensive defeats on testing ground prior to that visually brilliant display.

The colt has long promised a performance of the manner he produced in that Group 2 rout, and connections seem confident he can improve further. The fact is he will need to if he's to account for a select field which includes a whole host of high-class performers and, on rain-softened ground, such improvement is not certain to be evident.

Epsom Oaks heroine Taghrooda was taken out of the Irish Oaks in preference for this.

The John Gosden-trained filly was undoubtedly very impressive last time, proving a cut above her rivals in the fillies’ classic.

Even so, the form didn't receive the greatest of boosts at the Curragh, when runner-up Tarfasha ran below her best and fourth-placed Volume went just one place better.

With age and sex allowances, she receives up to 15lb from her rivals, but soft ground would be a negative for the daughter of Sea The Stars.

Also, Danedream, in 2012, was the first mare to win the race since Time Charter in 1983, and you have to go back to 1976 for the last three-year-old filly, Pawneese, to be successful.

Taghrooda's supplemented stable companion, Eagle Top, ran away from the strongly fancied Adelaide in the King Edward VII Stakes winnner, a victory for which he was raised 28lb by the official assessor.

There's likely to be further improvement, but that needs to be forthcoming if he's to make the breakthrough at the top level this soon in his career. His lack of experience may count against him.

The third runner from the Gosden stable is Derby third Romsdal. The form of the Epsom feature is also open for debate following runner-up Kingston Hill's fourth-place finish in the Eclipse.

Romsdal may prefer further and looks a Leger candidate but, on genuinely soft ground, would be worth a small each-way bet at 33-1.

Mukhadram beat 2013 Irish Derby winner Trading Leather in the Eclipse but isn't certain to confirm the form over this longer trip. He was given a great ride at Sandown, racing prominently before kicking for home from three out.

He was never in danger of being caught then and I wouldn't like to underestimate him, but Leitir Mor and, possibly, Romsdal should ensure this is run at a strong pace.

That just leaves Breeders' Cup Turf winner Magician, who may have been somewhat overlooked following his defeats at the Curragh and Ascot.

However, the Aidan O'Brien stable has now hit form and this fellow will have no excuses as long as the ground is not soft.

Even though his dam sire, Mozart, was a sprinter, he wasn't bred for that discipline, and the cross with Galileo has produced a colt with plenty of stamina.

Last time out, over ten furlongs at Royal Ascot, Magician ran on well to take second place behind The Fugue, who broke the track record.

However, in a previous meeting, which was the Ballydoyle colt’s only try over a mile and a half, he came from behind to snatch victory from The Fugue in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita.

Off what is likely to be a strong pace this afternoon, Joseph O’Brien can sit, wait and deliver him late.

If the evidence of his BC Turf run is confirmed, and he does get the trip strongly, it’ll be hard to keep him out of the frame.

Fast ground would be desirable but he’ll get away with good to soft going, and odds of 6-1, represent great value against a number of horses with more to prove at this level, regardless of the conditions.


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