Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Workforce can prosper

Stoute's Derby hero has the class to see off Youmzain in King George

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

The first thing to acknowledge about this afternoon's Betfair-sponsored King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot is that if Workforce is as good as he looked in the Epsom Derby, nothing will get close to him.

He broke the track record by annihilating the field in the premier Classic, and there is little doubt that, visually, the King's Best colt was the most impressive winner of the race in years.

Worryingly, though, the form of the Derby has taken a succession of knocks, and you would have to conclude that he didn't beat a single Group One standard three-year-old last month. Furthermore, while you cannot lightly dismiss the time of the win, placing too much emphasis on the clock when it comes to horseracing is inadvisable.

Given that Workforce dealt so summarily with the colts that Cape Blanco struggled to put away in the Irish Derby, it's hard to see the Ballydoyle horse confirming the superiority he had earlier displayed over Michael Stoute's colt in the Dante. At this point, Workforce seems to be the one horse capable of saving this Classic generation.

He is in the right hands to develop into a proper all-age Group One competitor, though he still has questions to answer as he takes on the older horses for the first time. While there is nothing of Fame And Glory's calibre present, Harbinger or Youmzain could expose any chinks in the three-year-olds.

Youmzain, twice placed in this before, represents solid each-way value at up to 14/1. While Harbinger's Royal Ascot form has held up well, it has done so at a level below this.

In the day's big handicap, the International Stakes, Tagseed shares favouritism at 7/1 with Yaa Wayl. Opposing the favourite would usually be the preferred option in a 22-runner event as open as this, but Tagseed might still be the pick at the prices.

Yaa Wayl, a three-year-old, is now 13lbs higher than when he narrowly scored on his seasonal debut in May. He has since been second and won outside of handicap company, though it's doubtful he has done enough to justify such a hike.

The year-older Tagseed is unbeaten in three this term, latterly in two handicaps, yet races off just a 10lb higher mark. He is a real likeable sort which, while taking time to find his stride last time, still has immense scope for improvement on just his sixth career outing. He won't be easily overturned off 8st 4lb.

The Longines Ladies Handicap gets proceedings under way at 1.30. Nina Carberry is an eye-catching booking on Abbondanza for Dandy Nicholls, but her multiple claimer-winning mount may lack the class for this. Fancied is Fishforcompliments.

Representing last year's victorious husband-and-wife partnership of Richard and Vicki Fahey, Fishforcompliments met with a well-handicapped three-year-old when second at York recently. A frustrating beast at times, the six-year-old has been placed on each of its last three outings and the handicapper is giving him a chance to get his head in front.

Further north at York, Summit Surge, which missed an engagement at Newbury a week ago, gets the nod under Kieren Fallon in the Sky Bet York Stakes. Refreshed after a busy spring, Ger Lyons' former inmate will appreciate the 10-furlong trip.

Tomorrow's racing at Ascot may not be quite as classy as today's, but Monsieur Joe can put his best foot forward in the Japan Racing Association Sprint Stakes. One of only two three-year-olds in the line-up, Monsieur Joe remains relatively unexposed as he makes just his 11th career start.

While he will have to tackle the challenge of some older, infinitely more streetwise rivals, Monsieur Joe has been improving in leaps and bounds for trainer Walter Swinburn of late.

Successful at Yarmouth and Leicester, the Choisir colt also ran a fair race in a competitive Newmarket event, while there was much to like about his defeat over course and distance last time.

He stayed on well to be beaten just a neck by Rowe Park, but Monsieur Joe has a slight pull at the weights this time and could well turn around that verdict on the way to victory.

Best bet: Tagseed

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