Mark Johnston’s yard have long had their finger firmly on the handicap-pulse and the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot is a race in which his runners have particularly thrived in over the last decade. The Middleham handler fires a four-strong salvo at this renewal in a bid to add to his five winners and four placed runners in the last decade.
Stable jockey Joe Fanning has opted for Royal Skies (12/1), a colt in excellent form having won his last two races by an aggregate of 15 lengths.
He could still be well treated running under a 4lb penalty for a six-length success, but this is his third race in 13 days and the concern is that he may be vulnerable to fresher rivals.
Royal Skies also has a burden of 9st6lbs, which could prove quite significant given each of the last 10 winners have carried less than 9st. Luckily for Johnson his other three runners Blue Wave, Salutation and Greeleys Love all limbo beneath that weight trend.
On 8st12lb, it’s difficult not to see Blue Wave (25/1) as in the handicapper’s grip given he’s 8lb above his last winning mark. For all he won that 1m4f Pontefract affair by a handy eight lengths, it’s difficult to see him scoring off his current mark given he was a well-beaten sixth of that rating last time.
Salutation (20/1) is sent out under very capable 3lb claimer Darren Egan and having finished a close second off 84 last time his jockey’s weight concession entitles him to acquit himself well.
The fact that he was ridden to nick a slowly run race from the front over 1m1f last time suggest he’s about stamina more than speed and tried over a distance of more than 1m3f for the first time he could be open to improvement.
Perhaps the most intriguing choice on jockey bookings is Greeleys Love, who is the pick of hired gun par-excellence Jamie Spencer. 42 lengths last of five off 1lb higher just five days ago it seems strange that a jockey of Spencer’s calibre would choose to ride him here.
However, he was seen in far better light when second at Epsom earlier this month over 1m2f off just 1lb lower than his current mark, staying on well to take the silver medal close home. Another who has yet to race beyond 1m2f his jockey booking makes him a very intriguing proposition.
With the yard’s form horse equally heavily raced and far more heavily burdened, the tentative selection is with choice of Mr Spencer at 22/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.