We’re sitting out the televised action at York and Sandown today, as our focus continues to be on Royal Ascot, which kicks off on Tuesday.
In our latest series of ante-post selections, we cast our eye over the Wokingham Stakes on the Saturday, and are recommending a 33/1 shot.
Whether it’s Royal Ascot or an afternoon betting on the jumps at Plumpton (which, if you’re ever in the area is well worth visiting by the way), when assessing the market of a handicap, first port of call for any punter must be whether the horse is on a winnable mark.
Punters can get caught up in the euphoria of high-profile horses from high-profile yards at Royal Ascot and don’t ever bother to check whether such horse is even on a winnable mark. The amount of times we’ve seen a horse from the yard at John Gosden or Sir Michael Stoute backed off the boards in these Royal Ascot handicaps beggers belief.
The Wokingham at Royal Ascot
Stable talk is very hard to weight up at the best of times but when one is thrown in at the highest level for a race where solid handicappers will be primed to run at their best, it’s really best to ignore the market moves for the so-called sexy horses.
Solid handicap form is the route to go down in a race like the Wokingham and the clear standout at the ante-post stage is the Charlie Hills-trained SHROPSHIRE, who can be backed at a juicy looking 33/1.
Wokingham Stakes (ANTE-POST TIP)
The selection has all the make-up of a horse that should run very well in a race like the Wokingham. He’s in the hands of a very shrewd young trainer and will appreciate the strongly-run nature of the Wokingham. But most of all, he is horse that looks well ahead of the handicapper, even off a mark of 99.
There is a feeling that we really haven’t seen the best of this talented grey just yet.
He was especially impressive when just going down by a nose to Move In Time at Doncaster off a mark of 96, where he travelled imperiously well before just being run out of things by the winner.
The five-year-old was well fancied to go one better on 1000 Guineas day in a hot-handicap at Newmarket but although running well again couldn’t get to the all-the-way winner.
Three of the last 12 Wokingham winners ran in that Newmarket handicap, which was won this year in gutsy-style by Hamza and that form this season looks very strong. It’s pretty fanciful to think that Hamza can make-all in the same fashion at Ascot where conditions and his new official mark won’t be in his favour.
Gabriel’s Lad would have a big chance after he stayed on nicely in behind the winner but at 14/1 is far too short. Shropshire, who has the same profile as Gabriel’s Lad and would have been far closer to Hamza than he was if getting a clear run at Newmarket, should be far shorter than 33/1 on that running – hence our interest in the colt.
The track at the Rowley Mile was suiting front-runners on 1000 Guineas day, so it was a huge effort from Shropshire, who was held-up to make a late charge, to finish fourth and get so close the leaders.
Previous Ascot form also a trait to consider when betting at the Royal meeting, especially over the sprint course, which is unique in the fact it takes a horse with plenty of stamina to see the tough trip out. Roar speed will only get you so far at Ascot. Shropshire has previous form over the six, winning form at that, when getting the better off Mac’s Power last July.
The selection ticks plenty of boxes. Take the 33/1, because if he gets a decent draw, he’ll be a near 12/1 shot on the day.