For many, the race of the 2023 Flat season so far is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot (3.40) on Saturday 29 July.

As of Thursday morning, 11 have been declared for this Group 1 contest over 1m4f – but only one can claim the £708,875 prize. Who will that be? Let’s take a look.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes Tips

  • King Of Steel to win @ 7/2
  • Westover each-way @ 16/1

What a race we have in store, ladies and gentlemen.

In Auguste Rodin, we’ve got the Betfred Derby winner. Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes hero Emily Upjohn and Hukum each have a Coronation Cup to their name – as does Pyledriver, who is also the defending champion. Such is the strength-in-depth of this race, the current 100/1 rank outsider is a Belmont Derby winner.

It goes without saying that any of these could win it, but for me there’s one that stands out just a little bit more than the rest.

That is KING OF STEEL for Roger Varian & Kevin Stott.

It’s mightily impressive what this son of Wootton Bassett has achieved in such a short space of time. To almost win the Betfred Derby on just your third ever start – and first of the season for new connections – before comfortably taking the G2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot is nothing but the sign of a very, very classy animal.

His form, on top of the extremely valuable weight-for-age allowance, is right up there with that of the main market principals, none of whom are even nearly as lightly-raced and therefore still open to significant improvement as this three-year-old.

Connections have been waxing lyrical about King Of Steel this week, which only boosts my confidence, and have eased fears about how he’ll cope on the forecast softer ground. If he does act on it, he has an almighty chance.

I also can’t let WESTOVER go unbacked at current prices.

Ralph Beckett’s son of Frankel was third in the Derby won by Desert Crown (who was my original fancy for the race before he was ruled out with a leg infection on Thursday morning) last year, beaten just under 3L – but given how that race panned out I think it’s fair to say he was worth much more than the official margin.

This season he’s gone on and hit new heights, finishing runner-up to the outstanding Equinox in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March before filling the same position behind Emily Upjohn in the Coronation Cup last month.

He was far from a straightforward ride again that day, but he then went on and put it all together when comfortably winning a G1 over in France just 21 days ago, breaking the course record in the process.

He’s is in the form of his life, he’ll appreciate conditions and can hopefully at least make the frame for in-form connections.

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