Always one of the most competitive sprints of the season, chasing a first prize of over £100,000. Read on for our Wokingham Stakes tips and betting preview.
A wide variety of prices have won the race in the last decade, a single favourite at 9/2 all the way up to a 33/1 longshot. Despite the large range in prices, horses weighted in the half stone band from 9-3 to 8-11 have won eight of the last ten renewals (although only 9lbs covered the field top to bottom last year), with four winners aged four and five aged five.
IN SUMMARY: Smart as a two year old for Saeed bin Suroor, STEADY PACE had been performing well in Dubai this winter and is on an attractive mark back in Britain to mount a strong challenge. He was last seen 121 days ago when a close fourth in a competitive event and he remains on the same mark with conditions to suit. Josephine Gordon takes the ride and he looks set to run a big race for in form connections. Others to note are Outback Traveller who won this in 2016 and Raucous, who sportsfirst time blinkers.
1 CERTIFICATE – Yet to run over a trip this short, but his excess stamina will be no bad thing in a cavalry charge such as this. He shows the best of his form on quick ground, including when winning at Goodwood last summer. He is seven pounds higher here which will make things more difficult but he has an each way chance.
2 INTISAAB – These big field sprints are his bread and butter, starting 2016 from a mark of 80, he concluded the season in October winning off 100 at York. He beat the re-opposing Muntadab and Out Do at Ripon in April but two runs since have not been as good. Should run his usual honest race but likely to find a few too good.
3 BUCKSTAY – Eyecatcher in this race last year, rattling home late on to grab fifth. The Good to Soft ground put an emphasis on stamina on that occasion which suited him well with his wins all coming over further. This is his seasonal debut and on much quicker ground he is passed over.
4 DUKE OF FIRENZE – Has been in career best form this season, claiming a York sprint before a huge run in the Epsom Dash, coming home in third. That has put him a career high mark and all his wins since June 2012 have come at the minimum trip.
5 DONJUAN TRIUMPHANT – Suffered a sophomoric slump in 2016, hitting the frame but unable to add to this three juvenile wins. He is on a more workable mark now but the pick of his form has come with considerably more cut in the ground than he will get here.
6 LANCELOT DU LAC – Has enjoyed another profitable winter on the all weather, taking his record on sand to 7 wins from 15, but 3 wins from 30 on turf is a poor strike rate. He hasn’t won on grass since September 2013 but he was third in this race in 2015 from a two pound higher mark so is worthy of each way consideration.
7 RAUCOUS – Third in the Stewards’ Cup last season from a three pound lower mark, he was gelded over the winter, clocking a new track record at Chelmsford first go back. He was a little disappointing at Windsor in a Listed race and first time blinkers are reached for in an attempt to get him back on track.
8 BIRCHWOOD – Another sporting first time headgear, he has run moderately on both starts so far in 2017. He is a winner on good to firm but this is his first career handicap with a mark of 105 looking high enough on what he has shown in the last year.
9 SQUATS – Without a win since September 2014 but that was at this track over five furlongs on similarly quick ground to tdday. The top five performances of his career have all come on this straight course so although his 2017 return was poor, he can’t be dismissed out of hand.
10 EASTERN IMPACT – Third in the Group 1 July Cup in 2015, he has struggled for consistency since. Quick ground suits him well but his efforts so far this season off lower marks haven’t shown enough to suggest he is well enough handicapped to win a race as competitive as this.
11 BOOM THE GROOM – Has a better strike rate when running on the all weather, but quick turf is no issue for him however as he showed when winning at York last summer. He is only a pound higher than that so the mark is workable but this stiff six furlong trip will stretch his stamina.
12 OUTBACK TRAVELLER – Winner of this race in 2016 off a four pound lower mark, he has shown precious little since. That should not put off prospective backers though as he arrived in similar form last year but primed to the second by Robert Cowell. He always travelled beautifully and should not be judged on bare form figures alone.
13 DANZENO – Quick ground is no problem and has generally acquitted himself well in pattern company since winning at Musselburgh in September 2015. He never got competitive on his only 2017 outing at York, his worst run since 2014, and that leaves him with enough to prove now.
14 STEADY PACE – Ran creditably over the winter in Dubai, placing in handicaps similar to this. He hasn’t been seen since but has a solid record when fresh and his sole turf win came on this track on Good to Firm ground. He looks a very interesting contender with Josephine Gordon booked for the ride and looks set for a big run. .
15 SHANGHAI GLORY – A three time winner last season, closing out with a Listed win on The Curragh, which has seen his mark rise by ten pounds. This is his 2017 debut and his two career runs on good to firm both saw him finish at the back of the field.
16 PROJECTION – Steadily progressive through his lightly raced career, but he was disappointing on his 2017 return when sent off favourite at Newmarket. He was behind both Eastern Impact and Intisaab on that occasion so needs to return to his best to turn the form round. He looked a little worked up pre-race last time out and it won’t be easy to keep him calm at this meeting either.
17 EDWARD LEWIS – Hugely improved this season for being gelded and moving to David O’Meara. That form has all come over five furlongs and for all that he was rattling home in the Epsom Dash last time, he has a little to prove over this stiff six furlong trip but he has each way chances if staying.
18 POLYBIUS – Struggled in the main since his last win in August 2015, showing a little more form in Dubai over the winter. He has not been seen since February and has previously run poorly when returning from a break. Inconsistent profile including five finishes of eighth or worse in his last seven starts makes him poor value.
19 POYLE VINNIE – Won over five furlongs at Southwell in January, but he has shown the pick of his turf form with a little more cut, although he was runner up in the Ayr Gold Cup in 2015 on Good. He flatters to deceive on occasions, travelling strongly without finding much off the bridle and the same is expected here.
20 NORMANDY BARRIERE – Nigel Tinkler is an underrated trainer, especially of sprinters, and his charge won over course and distance last time out on this ground. That was a career best and it doesn’t look like his progression is slowing despite now being five years old. This is the most competitive race he has faced to date but has chances.
21 FIRST SELECTION – Won four times as a juvenile, including the Group 3 Solario Stakes in August 2015. That was the last time he got his head in front and having shown precious little since (albeit in generally in better company) he is tough to support.
22 GEORGE DRYDEN – Broke his duck on quick ground in 2014 but has failed to run to that level twice since on good to firm. He wasn’t far behind Intisaab in the Great St Wilfred last August and he is two pounds lower now so if he can cope with the conditions he would have an outside squeak.
23 G FORCE – Formerly very smart, he won the Haydock Sprint Cup in 2014. He hasn’t won since then but he ran well when fourth in the Ayr Gold Cup last season from a two pound higher mark, so although it wouldn’t be a shock to see him in the frame, the percentage call is to oppose.
24 MUNTADAB – Has a string of runner efforts to his name this season, with his mark increasing seven pounds in that time for his troubles. He deserves respect as he has taken a step forward each time but very fast ground is be a concern, as is the fact he’s been a beaten favourite on his last three starts in lesser contest off lower marks.
25 AMAZOUR – Has run no more than respectably on quick ground in the past, with his two most recent wins coming on the Tapeta at Newcastle. He has struggled off this mark on turf in the past and similar is expected here.
26 OUT DO – The handicapper has been slow to relent on this eight year old who is a generally consistent sprinter, but hasn’t won since May 2015. His mark is now seven pounds lower than that day and he has run well in snatches, including over course and distance on Good to Firm last season. He is hard to support in such a deep field against less exposed types though.
27 CULTURATI – Non Runner
28 HARRY HURRICANE – Both turf wins have come over five furlongs, and his record at this trip is off putting with no wins in six starts. A decent performance last time out in the Scottish Sprint Cup means he is now on his highest career marks and with a poor record both at Ascot and on Good to Firm he may struggle today.
29 CAPTAIN COLBY – The likely outsider of the field, with just one win in his last ten starts for trainer Ed Walker. He has finished well down on the field on four of his last five starts and, three pounds above his last winning mark, is a risky prospect. On his day, he has potential to put in a big run, but that seems unlikely.