The trends that unite the Wokingham Stakes winners of recent memory do a fine job of sketching the profile of the kind of runner we’re looking for in the Royal meeting’s final-day cavalry charge.
10 of the last 12 winners had either scored or made the places in their previous outing, whilst nine of the last 12 horses to win the Wokingham had won no more than two handicaps and eight had competed in that sphere on no more than 11 occasions.
With the fact that only two post-millennial winners were six or older in mind, the emphasis is on finding a young handicapper on the way up, who has plenty more up their sleeve.
2011 victor Deacon Blues is a prime example, with his Wokingham win lighting the touchpaper on a four-Group-race winning spree.
Nonetheless it’s important that their handlers haven’t been too coy with their charges, as an official rating of 95 has been the lowest mark in the field over the past two renewals.
With five of the last six victors rated between that mark and 102 we can further narrow down our field of investigation and Denis Coakley’s Gabriel’s Lad and Rex Imperator of the William Haggas yard seem to fit the bill.
Hamza beat the former for the second time at Newmarket recently, winning whilst conceding more weight and prevailing by further than on their first meeting of the season, so he may not be sufficiently upwardly mobile for our purposes, but the latter definitely fits the bill for a trainer who took the Wokingham with Laddies Poker Two in 2010.
Having competed in Group and listed company in 2011 and early 2012 it seems that connections initially had higher plains in mind for their four-year-old, who has competed seven times since going handicapping last June.
He won off a mark of 98 on his first start in that arena, but his form tailed off subsequently and a fifth at Bath was the best he mustered in the rest of 2012. A second over 7f on his seasonal comeback vouches for the fact that he’s returned from a winter off in good spirits and he looks rated to do the business, returning to Ascot on his last winning mark.
If further incentive were needed, the money has been talking favourably for the son of Royal Applause – who boasts two wins and two seconds from five runs at the Wokingham’s 6f – with the colt backed in from 33/1 all the way down to 12/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.