Friday 23 February 2018

Workforce can prove ace in pack

I'M NOT entirely sure how true this is, but apparently the term NAP comes from an old card game named after Napoleon III -- a bloke that liked to have a gamble now and then.

Napoleon III (not to be confused with the earlier leader Napoleon I of Waterloo fame) would often go 'all-in' on his best hand when playing this particular game and, henceforth, your best bet became known as your 'Napoleon' (or NAP for short).

I must admit that July hasn't been the kindest month to me, punting-wise. I'm going through one of those phases where everything I back seems to come second, but I'm hoping to turn things around this afternoon by having a rather large bet on my Napoleon of the day -- the Michael Stoute-trained Workforce in the Betfair sponsored King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes (4.25 Ascot).

Okay, I know he's a short price at even-money and some of my mates are suggesting that the sunshine in June must have frazzled my brain a little if I take that price, but I'm convinced he should be 8/11 or shorter based on his Epsom Derby win.


He clocked a brilliant time in that race and earned an even better Timeform Derby performance rating (132) than the exceptional Sea The Stars (126).

His opponents have two main gripes with the form.

Firstly, they will say that the 2010 Derby was a weak renewal and that most of the horses that finished behind Workforce have done precious little since.

This is true but, as they say, he could beat only whoever showed up on the day and he did so in devastating style. Secondly, they will point to his Dante defeat at the hands of Cape Blanco -- the sole Aidan O'Brien representative in today's race.

The bit slipped through Workforce's mouth on that occasion, making it extremely difficult for Ryan Moore to keep control and, under the circumstances, second place was a reasonable achievement.

With Workforce trading at a short price, some commentators have suggested looking elsewhere for value but the King George is a race that the collective punters rarely get wrong and eight of the last 10 winners went off as favourite.

The Stoute yard may be out of form lately but stablemate Harbinger still poses the biggest threat to the NAP.

You can trust Stoute to get the best out of these older horses and Harbinger made a tricky Hardwicke Stakes look easy. That said, nine of the last 10 King George winners had Group One form under the belt, so I'm not yet convinced he's up to this level.

The dark horse of the race may well turn out to be Daryakana (16/1) from the Alain de Royer-Dupre stable. Her trainer has been very careful about which races to raid and she's sure to be primed for a bold bid today, having been prepared with this race in mind.


I don't have a huge-priced outsider this week but, at 8/1, Ginger Jack is worth a punt in Ascot's Dubai Duty Free Handicap (3.15).

The longer trip is likely to suit and even though the handicapper keeps adding weight, it wasn't enough to hold him back last time at Musselburgh. He's on the up and, if you ask me, the Mark Johnston gelding could still be two or three pounds ahead of the assessor.

Irish Independent

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