A great addition this year is this consolation race for the Wokingham Stakes, with so many thoroughly capable sprint handicappers denied a run. Here’s our top six:
After only just being beaten in a course and distance race last autumn on soft ground, it’s clear race conditions are absolutely fine for William Haggas’ four-year-old gelding.
In fact, Tom Marquand’s mount has finished second here twice now and won races at Nottingham and Leicester either side of a solid sixth at Newmarket last summer during the July meeting so he has the form in the book.
His is rated 95 now which is the sticking point, but being fit after a pipe-opener back at HQ on fast ground means he stands a fair place chance.
Well backed this week after finishing second eight days ago at Newbury, it’s interesting to note that Blue Mist was third in the International Stakes here last year over seven furlongs and this race looks ideal.
The one doubt about Roger Charlton’s gelding is that he has been well backed on many occasions before without delivering, in fact he was 11/8 favourite last time but carried the second colours of Khalid Abdullah behind Breath Of Air who promptly went on to win.
An interesting contender who is having his second run for Archie Watson after being bought out of Ger Lyons’ yard in Ireland. When trained by Lyons last season as a three-year-old, Burmese Waltz managed nothing more than a maiden win but she always showed a good level of form and has reached new heights now.
For her recent win at Kempton she has only gone up 4lbs in the weights, however she was all-out to win that day and it’s not certain that she has a hell of a lot of improvement left to come.
Fairly strongly fancied last week when ridden by Ryan Moore at Doncaster, Richard Hannon’s five-year-old looks the type who has a big handicap in him for sure and conditions here may well be very much to his liking.
That said, he has run to a very similar level several times over the last year or so without improving a whole lot which makes his rating of 95 – still three higher than his last winning mark from July 2019 – seem a tad high. Thore Hammer Hansen takes off 5lbs.
Four-year-olds owned by Sheikh Ahmed, trained by William Haggas and ridden by James Doyle always catch the eye and when digging into this horse’s profile one can’t help licking one’s lips.
Nahaarr was a winner of his first four starts last season over six and seven furlongs clearly marking him out as a fast-improving type, and while the opposition wasn’t too much to shout about at the time he was winning his races very easily.
It’s though that by the time he got to Newmarket in August the ground was a little quick for him, or perhaps he’d had enough for the year, and when he was a beaten favourite at HQ this season the same thing could be said about the surface.
Coming back to six furlongs and running on rain-softened ground really makes you think this talented colt is about to hit a new career peak, something that both on his own form from last summer and on a line through a couple of old rivals makes his mark of 93 look very lenient indeed.
Pass The Vino
No doubt this one’s name will make him a popular one in the offices on Saturday morning, but his form does have substance too and he is not without a chance in this race.
Only 12 runs into his career, Paul D’Arcy’s charge has run very well over this course and distance before and began 2020 with a fine third at Newmarket on what may well have been unsuitably soft ground. Each-way claims for sure.
Plenty in with chances on the book as you’d expect. Aplomb is interesting, Blue Mist looks capable but is often over bet while Pass The Vino could be one at a price who can do some damage.
The one with the most potential to improve off his mark however is four-year-old colt NAHAARR who has a great profile for this race, and would have done for the Wokingham itself. He can land this en route to bigger things later in the campaign when he may well be a Pattern horse.