Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Workforce aimed at Ascot redemption

Chris McGrath

good horses, and good jockeys, always deserve a second chance. Such, at any rate, appeared to be the consensus yesterday regarding three of the best horses in Prince Khaled Abdulla's racing empire.

Workforce was in heavy demand for what suddenly looks a vintage running of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday -- a year after his mysterious failure in the same race.

Twice Over, meanwhile, heads to York on the same afternoon, with Henry Cecil eager to disregard a no less uncharacteristic exhibition at Royal Ascot last month. And Cecil is also giving unqualified support for his stable jockey Tom Queally as they prepare for Frankel's big showdown with Canford Cliffs at Goodwood next week.

The odds against Workforce have all but halved since he delighted trainer Michael Stoute in a gallop over the weekend. Punters are emboldened not only by his two excellent displays over 10 furlongs this season, but also by a forecast for unsettled weather.

Godolphin has confirmed that Rewilding and Debussy will both run, while it appears that Midday will take part only if Workforce is an absentee.

Among just seven acceptors yesterday, Midday is only a reserve for Workforce and remains likely to head to Goodwood for the Nassau Stakes a week later, while Seville -- second to Meandre in the Grand Prix de Paris last week -- is understood to perform a similar role for St Nicholas Abbey.

But Rewilding is likely to be accompanied by a pacemaker in Debussy, with trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni reporting that the horse is "very well" after winning the Prince of Wales's at Ascot.

"I think he has physically changed from three to four years old. When he was three, races took a lot out of him. This time he is stronger," he said. "A mile and a half is his best distance so that is why we are really confident.

"I wasn't surprised that much at Ascot as they went a really fast pace, which has helped him. They got tired and he was the one that kept going as he is a mile-and-a-half horse."

As for one of the outsiders in the line-up, Nathaniel's connections paid a £75,000 fee to supplement John Gosden's improving three-year-old, so they clearly think he is better than a long shot.

"We certainly haven't seen the best of him yet," his jockey William Buick said. "If he gets his conditions, he definitely deserves his place. The ground was a bit quick for him at Chester, and the track didn't suit, but that race made a man of him."

Meanwhile, Cecil's Twice Over, so disappointing behind Rewilding last time, seeks to get back on track in the Group Two Sky Bet Stakes at York.

"God knows what happened," Cecil said. "He must have felt ill or off-colour. Normally he's very good, but he didn't want to be saddled or go in the parade ring. He was so distressed after the race that I did not bring him home until the next day. But he's been fantastic since."

As for Queally, Cecil dismissed criticism of his tactics on Frankel in the St James's Palace Stakes -- albeit admitting that the race had not panned out quite as he had hoped.

"Tom is very sensible and has a good temperament," he said. "He will go there with confidence and I think he will do perfectly. I always say treat a race like a gallop -- there will always be another day. The last time did not work out, but this is another day." (© Independent News Service)

King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, William Hill bet: 6/4 St Nicholas Abbey , 7/4 Workforce, 100/30 Rewilding, 10/1 Nathaniel, 20/1 Midday, 25/1 Seville, 66/1 Debussy.

Irish Independent

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