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The Great St. Wilfrid Stakes, run over 6 furlongs at Ripon, has, as usual, attracted a maximum field of 20 runners, befitting a race worth £43,575 to the winner. In fact, this year’s renewal, due off at 3.30 p.m. on Saturday, August 16, is about as impenetrable as they come, with the bookmakers betting 10/1 the field ante post.
Nevertheless, one horse that we’ve followed with interest this season is Tim Easterby’s 6-year-old, Fast Shot, who’s won two of his five starts this season and may not have finished winning yet. The Fasliyev gelding failed to win last season, but has resumed his improvement this time around, winning at Pontefract in April, off a handicap mark off 88, and following up over course and distance, off a 5lb higher mark, later the same month.
He was only beaten 2½ lengths in another valuable handicap, off today’s handicap mark of 97, at York on his penultimate start, despite being denied room in the closing stages and was drawn on completely the wrong side of the course when only eighteenth of twenty-eight, beaten 12 lengths, in the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot eight weeks ago. The fact that he’s been off the course since is a slight worry, but otherwise he has plenty going for him and looks decent value at 20/1 in the ante post lists.
He’s won on going ranging from good to firm to heavy, so should run his race regardless of the weather in North Yorkshire between now and Saturday afternoon. However, with heavy showers and thunderstorms forecast for the region on Thursday afternoon and evening, along with further outbreaks of rain on Friday and Saturday, it’s reasonable to expect at least some easing of the prevailing good going at Ripon. If the ground does come up soft on Saturday, he’s well-drawn, in stall 6, to take advantage. He’s a strong-travelling type, so he should be able to take a prominent position from the start, before staying on in the closing stages to lift the spoils, as he did on his last visit to Ripon.
Fast Shot appears to have formed an excellent relationship with apprentice Rachel Richardson, who switched to the professional ranks last year and has won two from four starts on him. The former amateur rider once again takes off a useful 7lb and the partnership can record its biggest success to date for owners the ‘On to a Winner’ syndicate and Tim Easterby, who retains a share in the gelding.
The Investec Derby runner-up Kingston Hill looks more than likely to have his next racecourse outing at York on August 20, but ground conditions will dictate whether he goes for the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes or the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes.
The Roger Varian-trained colt was the only one to make a serious race of it at Epsom with the impressive Australia, who subsequently went on to follow up with a facile victory in the Irish Derby following the late withdrawal of Kingston Hill on account of the unsuitably quick ground at the Curragh.
Varian’s charge turned up instead at Sandown a week later to tackle older horses for the first time over 10 furlongs in the Group 1 Coral Eclipse where he finished a staying-on fourth behind William Haggas’ admirable Mukhadram.
Apparently lacking the pace to find a good early position in the Eclipse, Kingston Hill raced to the rear of the field under Frankie Dettori and kept on steadily in the closing stages to be beaten just over four lengths by the winner.
The ground at Sandown was on the quick side and the online race guides seem to have taken the view that if the going at York is good then connections will bid for the 12 furlong Great Voltigeur Stakes, a race seen as a key St Leger trial. If there is some cut in the ground then the son of Mastercraftsman will again take on older horses over the 10 furlongs of the Juddmonte International Stakes. Both races are scheduled for August 20.
On the evidence of his latest outing, the longer York race would appear the best chance of success for Varian’s talented colt, a horse who won at the highest level over a mile as a juvenile when running away with the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster last October.
Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe winner Treve is set for her first appearance in the UK next week where she is scheduled to race in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The French-trained runner is odds-on in the Betfair ante-post betting for the 1m2f contest on day two of the royal meeting.
Treve suffered the first defeat of her career last time out in France when she went down by a short neck to Cirrus Des Aigles in the Group One Prix Ganay. That was the four-year old’s first outing since her five length win at Longchamp in October in the Arc.
Aidan O’Brien will be represented in the Prince of the Wales’s Stakes by Magician who has raced in three different countries in his last four starts.
The biggest win of Magician’s career came at the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita in November. He was successful in the Breeders’ Cup Turf when going off at 7-1 with Betfair for the race. Jockey Ryan Moore chose to hold his mount up in the early stages of the 1m4f contest before coming with a late surging run to deny the even money favourite The Fugue.
Since his victory in the United States, O’Brien’s colt finished sixth in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan before winning the Group Three Morresbridge Stakes at the Curragh where he was the warm odds-on favourite in the flat race.
Mukhadram goes into Royal Ascot at the age of five bidding for his first Group One win. He has not featured since coming home second in the Dubai World Cup behind African Story.
William Haggas’ runner is third best in the betting with Betfair as he looks to build on the best run of his career at Meydan.