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Hukum Clipped Once more for King George, Forecast in Favor

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The prospect of unsettled climate at Ascot Racecourse within the coming days may imply Hukum  troubles star 3-year-olds Auguste Rodin  and King of Steel  for King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) favoritism, layers suggested July 23.

The July 29 championship is shaping up to be one of the races of the summer with Derby 1-2 Auguste Rodin and King of Steel due to line up, as well as classy filly Emily Upjohn , last year’s Epsom hero Desert Crown , and Pyledriver , who won the $1.25 million race 12 months ago.

Hukum, trained in Lambourn by Owen Burrows, has long had the race on his agenda, but missed the Hardwicke Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot because the ground was too quick.

That will not be the case on King George day as showers (3 mm) are expected Monday, while 7-10 mm could fall Wednesday into Thursday.

Blustery conditions are also forecast Friday and Saturday, according to Ascot’s clerk of the course Chris Stickels, who described the ground as good to soft, soft in places Sunday.

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Anyone backing Hukum, who produced a career-best when beating Desert Crown in May’s Brigadier Gerard Stakes (G3) at Sandown Park Racecourse, will welcome that outlook and he was again trimmed for the King George Sunday when Coral went 9-2 (from 5-1).

Their betting has Auguste Rodin as the 5-2 market leader, ahead of 3-1 chance King of Steel and Emily Upjohn, who can be backed at 7-2, but the firm’s David Stevens said: “There’s plenty of rain around in the forecast for the week ahead, which can only be a positive for Hukum’s chances in what promises to be a top-class King George, and it’s not impossible to envisage the 6-year-old shortening further in the coming days, and even challenging for big-race favoritism.”

Owen Burrows after Hukum's win in the Group 2 Dubai City Of Gold over 1m 4f Meydan, 5.3.22
Photo: Edward Whitaker/Racing Post

Lambourn-based trainer Owen Burrows

A top-level winner of last year’s Coronation Cup (G1), Hukum is a full brother to last year’s European champion Baaeed and was reckoned to be at the peak of his powers by those closest to him after that Sandown success.

Paddy Power’s Paul Binfield said: “We cut Hukum (to 9-2) for King George glory on Saturday with the weather looking perfect for a horse who likes to get his toe in.

“It’s very possible he’ll go off shorter and, looking at the forecast, I wouldn’t be amazed if he did become dual Derby hero Auguste Rodin’s main rival in the betting.”

Ascot also races Friday and Stickels, speaking just before 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, said: “The forecast is unsettled and we’re good to soft, soft in places after 12 mm of rain yesterday. That forecast is only the odd shower until late Wednesday into Thursday. I imagine the track will improve a bit before Thursday, but then that rain will ease it up again.

“It’s hard to know how it will play out, but I expect it to dry out before Thursday and then, if that forecast is accurate, to soften up again. The word soft is in the going description now, so it’s quite possible it will be on race day—it wouldn’t be a surprise.

“I’m very happy with the way the track is. It’s been an unsettled July and conditions are probably a bit easier than where we’d normally be at this time of year.”

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