Wokingham Stakes – Seeking Magic Has The Right Spell
Along with the Stewards’ Cup and Ayr Gold Cup, Saturday’s Wokingham Stakes (5.00) is amongst the best sprint handicaps of the season, and one in which it is currently 12/1 the field.
Whoever finds the winner of this year’s renewal will be grinning from ear to ear over the weekend, and one who has a leading chance of finding the winner’s enclosure is Andrew Balding’s, Absolutely So (12/1).
This 4yo arrives in winning form having landed a valuable 7f handicap at Goodwood in early May (good to soft), when winning by over 3l. A hike of 8lb ensures he gets into this race, and the step back to 6f shouldn’t be an inconvenience as he is already a dual winner over it. He has a good profile, plus Balding won the race in 2007.
Form in similar large field sprint handicaps is always an asset in the Wokingham, and Richard Fahey’s, Baccarat (16/1), doesn’t seem to run a bad race in them, having won the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon last summer (6f, good).
Subsequently fifth in the Ayr Gold Cup and runner-up in a 20-runner affair at York last month (a race which supplied last year’s winner, York Glory), Baccarat has edged up the weights, and will look to go closer than when sixth in this last year when hampered.
The aforementioned, York Glory (16/1), is back to try and win it again, just as Selhurstpark Flyer did in the mid-nineties. Jamie Spencer is back aboard once more, but a 9lb higher mark may anchor him.
Another improving 4yo in good form is Roger Varian’s, Rocky Ground (14/1), who beat a reliable yardstick in Rex Imperator in a Listed race at Windsor three weeks ago (6f, good). That career best was an impressive effort, and a repeat of that would have to put him in the frame.
There can be no ignoring the Richard Hannon/Richard Hughes team, however, and they have a live contender in Ninjago (16/1), who has history in these races having been fifth in the 2013 Stewards’ Cup, before reappearing this term with a third in the big sprint handicap on Newmarket Guineas weekend (6f, good to firm). He ran on well that day and should go well once with that outing under his belt, from a 2lb higher mark.
Hannon also has Professor under Ryan Moore, who at 16/1 has to represent value as he was a dual Listed winner last season and arrives in form having been placed in such company the last twice.
This year’s Wokingham has attracted a host of improving talent, some of which arrive boasting winning form last time out, but the vote goes to Seeking Magic, who won last season’s Stewards’ Cup consolation race, and has suggested the last twice that he could be about to strike.
He flashed through into second in the Epsom Dash over 5f, and this extra furlong will suit much better.
Here are the full trends covering the last 18 years…
All 19 winners scored over 6f-7f – avoid 5f winners.
All 19 won a Class 4 or better event.
All 19 made the top six last time.
18 ran during the past two months – four penalty carriers triumphed.
18 ran at a Grade 1 track last time.
18 were 4-6yo’s, but two three-year-olds finished runner-up from just a handful of runners.
18 were ridden prominently or held up – only the dual winner, Selhurstpark Flyer, won from the front.
17 had a maximum of four outings that season.
16 ran over 6f-7f last time.
15 were British or Irish-bred.