Today brings with it the last, but certainly not the least, of the BDH Royal Ascot previews. Fittingly it is the Wokingham Stakes that falls under the microscope as I try and uncover the next York Glory amongst the also-rans of the valuable 6f sprint handicap.
Race in focus: 4.25 Ascot (22-06-2013) – Wokingham Stakes (HERITAGE HANDICAP) 7f (26ran)
The runners split into 2 groups here although it was very much a middle to low heavy field as only 6 runners actually stayed on the stands side. Despite being in the main group the runners that were coming from stalls 1 – 11 really struggled to land any significant blow here with their best position being MASS RALLY in 11th. It significantly paid to be in the middle group of stalls here and the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 6th were all drawn in an 8 stall range (stalls 12-19). POOLE HARBOUR made the pace from down low but the main group of runners bunched into the middle and he ended up acting as front-runner for them all. BABAK CHINTA acted as a good wing-man for the overall leader and it was his early pace pushing that helped set it up for the hold up horses; the first 5 home in the main group were all hold up horses. From the high numbers it was ZERO MONEY who led the raiding party but he is far from a regular pace-setter and he just didn’t go fast enough to pull his small band of horses into contention.
The end result…
The pace coming down the middle played right into the hands of the winner YORK GLORY and he was able to hook behind the main pack from his draw and cruise menacingly into contention before landing his killer blows inside the final furlong. This was an impressive run from a horse that is probably going to go on and make his mark in Graded company. Second placed SHROPSHIRE was another that was able to sit out the back and come through late although he had no answer to the winners finishing burst. This was a career best run and he now finds himself on a career high mark, a mark he may well struggle from. Third placed DINKUM DIAMOND got going a little too late but this was a fine effort and he took advantage of his decent draw. Fourth placed KHUBALA was the first home from the stands side runners and this was a decent effort considering he would have liked a bit more cover. Fifth home was GLASS OFFICE and he was another that came from out the back. He is still lightly raced and probably still has more to offer. It should be noted that 3yo’s have a pretty poor record in this race so fifth was a sterling effort. Sixth placed REX IMPERATOR was another that took advantage of his draw and came from off the pace late. He has only has 2 wins from 14 to his name and seems a bit inconsistent for my liking. Seventh placed ELUSIVITY was the 2nd home from the high stalls and although this was an OK effort he is going to want a bit more cut in the ground before he is winning again. DUKE OF FIRENZE came home in 8th (3rd in his group) and realistically had no chance from the highest stall of all and racing in the small group. For him to get as close as he did was a fine effort as this really didn’t play to his strengths.
BDH(s) to follow…
DUKE OF FIRENZE (8th) (Sir M Stoute)
I think he is plenty better than this, I really do. He had little to no chance from stall 26 here and with no pace up his side his cards were played and busted as soon as the gates opened. He was finishing strongly here but he was never going to be able to get into a position to strike a killer blow. He was dealt a poor hand but in fairness I though he made the most of it.
As his win at Epsom in the dash testified he loves coming late and fast and passing through runners in the closing stages. He didn’t have any chance of doing that here but it was noticeable that he started to pick up and gain interest as others dropped back to him late on. He obviously loves threading his way through a pack, it brings him alive. Ryan Moore is the perfect foil for him as he can get the horse stoked up out the back and the horse will keep responding for him when asked.
I think a strongly run 5 furlong may just be his optimum conditions although I would certainly not discount him when running over 6 furlongs.
Is he a Group horse in the making? Possibly. I do think he has plenty of talent in the locker and a mark of 101 certainly doesn’t seem beyond him. After that, who knows.
Conditions – He will be a very difficult horse to win with from a poor draw so we really want to see him in a large field, covered up behind a strong pace and on the correct side of the draw. Ground wise he seems to be a Good ground type of horse, he certainly doesn’t look like one that would want it any softer. I do think there is a handicap still in him although Graded company may also be within his compass as well.
DUKE OF FIRENZE now enters my Proform ‘Horse Watcher’ tool (horse tracker in other words) and I will post on the Blog when he is due to run next.
The BDH war chest has now been stocked up nicely after Royal Ascot, we now just need a couple of them to deliver the goods York Glory style!
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