Huntsman’s Close the pick in Wokingham Stakes
The 5.00 at Royal Ascot on Saturday is the Wokingham Stakes, one of the most competitive handicap races of the week. The six-furlong contest is one of the most prestigious sprint handicaps of the season with £175,000 of prize money on offer.
The weights are headed by Andrew Balding’s Intransigent, the winner of a valuable race at the course over seven furlongs last season. Although he has won good races over six, his best form has always come in the autumn.
Robert Cowell once again underlined his prowess with sprinters when he won the King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday. He saddles Intrinsic here, the winner of last season’s Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood. He disappointed on his final start at Doncaster in September and this will be his first run since.
Ninjago is a good quality sprinter on his day and was only a length behind Intrinsic at Goodwood. He is now 6lbs better off for a length with that horse and ran well here in May when not beaten far in the Victoria Cup over seven furlongs. He was third under a big weight last time out and should go well here for Pat Dobbs.
Roger Charlton looks to have laid out Huntsmans Close for this race ever since his second to Eastern Impact at Newmarket in May. He was desperately unlucky not to win that day, the short-head verdict going against him. He had previously won the Ayr Silver Cup on good to firm ground and should get similar conditions on Saturday. William Buick rides and he looks good each-way value.
Damien Oliver rides the French-trained Robert Le Diable, runner-up in his last three starts. He was beaten two lengths by the speedy Mecca’s Angel at Longchamp over five furlongs last month before failing by a short-head to hold Rosso Corsa over seven furlongs. His form suggests that he needs some give in the ground and conditions may go against him on Saturday.
Kickboxer put in an eye-catching run when third to Mukhmal at Newmarket last time out. The Godolphin-owned gelding kept on well in the closing stages, although he is 7lbs higher than his last winning mark.
Algar Lad was a good priced winner for this column at York last time out and could still be competitive off a 6lbs higher mark for David O’Meara. Gamesome was an unlucky fifth in Eastern Impact’s Newmarket race and was not far behind Huntsmans Close at the finish. He is another with each-way claims in a wide open contest.
Huntsman’s Close – Wokingham Handicap (Royal Ascot 5.00 Saturday) @15.0 Bet365
Gamesome @21.0 Bet365
Each-way ¼ odds, 1,2,3,4