Expert analysis and trainer quotes for the competitive Great St Wilfrid Handicap
The draw is often the focus of attention for the William Hill Great St Wilfrid, but looking at the results of both the Silver Trophy consolation race and the big one itself since 2008 is revealing with regards to that focus point. When studying the percentage of rivals beaten (%RB) by stall in those races in the last 12 years there appears to be little in it and no bias either side.
The only conclusion that can be made is that it’s preferable to be drawn either very low or very high. Stalls one, three, four, five and six are all beating at least 50 per cent of their rivals and the same can be said for those coming from gates 17, 18, 19 and 20. Stall two is underperforming, beating only 45.26 per cent of rivals, but that is likely just an anomaly.
Using the three-stall rolling average, it’s clear there is a significant drop in %RB between stalls eight to 12 inclusive and those look the ones to avoid. That makes sense from a tactical perspective too as this is probably where the field will split and runners drawn in those middle five gates are the most likely to get caught marooned between the two main groups.
A couple of those towards the head of the market are drawn in those unfavourable positions, with Gunmetal coming from stall nine and Dakota Gold drawn in 12. That could prove problematic for Dakota Gold in particular, as he has only one way of racing and that is freely in front. Jockey Connor Beasley won’t want to be ploughing a lone furrow in the middle.
The three who make the most appeal are all drawn middle-to-high and that might be where this race develops. Kimifive (stall 13) is drawn close to speedy front-runner Dakota Gold and that has been a good berth (61.83 %RB) recently, despite being more towards the middle. He is a big player along with Golden Apollo (18) and likely market leader Motagally (20).
I generally like horses who have shown speed over further and then proven themselves to be effective at a shorter distance and Kimifive comes into that category. He was beaten only a head by Summerghand in the Stewards’ Cup over 6f at Goodwood last time after being dropped from 7f on his previous start, and should have more to offer over sprint distances.
Race analysis by Graeme Rodway
Watchable out to roll back the years
Veteran sprinter Watchable, who has proved no back number with two wins this year as a ten-year-old, will bid to become the oldest modern-day winner of Ripon's historic showpiece race.
A stalwart of the David O'Meara stable, Watchable has made all but one of his 81 starts for the York trainer, having made his debut in October 2013 as a three-year-old gelding in a Redcar maiden.
The pick of his 11 victories to date came in a valuable handicap at the Curragh in 2014. He has performed well at a higher level, with a fourth-place finish in the 2015 Prix Maurice de Gheest.
Watchable will aim to surpass Green Dollar, who won the Great St Wilfrid as a nine-year-old in 1992, and his form ties in closely with the fancied Staxton, whom he lost out to by a nose over course and distance earlier this month.
"He ran well at Ripon when he was just collared late on and he's since won at Thirsk, for which he has a penalty, under Sean Kirrane," said O'Meara.
"He's drawn in the middle, which isn't great as you'd prefer to be low or high, and it would be a big ask to win it at his age.
"He's in great order though, he trains himself – if you opened his stable door he'd follow the string up at his own speed. He's a great old horse to have."
O'Meara, who won the race three times in four years with Pepper Lane (2011 and 2012) and Out Do (2014), also saddles Abel Handy.
"He's drawn in eight and we'll probably go far side with him," said the trainer. "He has little weight on his back [8st 1lb] and he's quick, so he should be able to travel. We've given him a few weeks since his last run as he seems to best fresh."
What they say
Michael Dods, trainer of Dakota Gold
We've been struggling with the ground this year but he'll run, providing it's not too quick. He won the race last year but has top weight this time, so it'll be a tall order.
Richard Fahey, trainer of Mr Lupton, Brian The Snail and George Bowen
Mr Lupton has been disappointing and we don't know why – maybe he's lost his confidence.
It's frustrating because we're happy with him at home and he's well handicapped. Brian The Snail ran well at Goodwood and if you could trust him to repeat it, he'd have a chance. We made too much use of George Bowen last time and we'll delay his run a little longer. He's in good form. Brian has the best recent form but I wouldn't like to pick between them.
Charlie Hills, trainer of Motagally
The form of his Bath win last time has worked out pretty well with the runner-up [Chil Chil] winning next time. It looks the right race for him, providing he handles the track.
Joe Tuite, trainer of Kimifive
If he can reproduce his Stewards' Cup run, I'd like to think he can go close. He's up four pounds but we're happy with him at home.
Tim Easterby, trainer of Golden Apollo, Hyperfocus and Staxton
Golden Apollo is in good order and has a very good chance. Hyperfocus' chances would improve with any rain that falls as he likes a bit of juice in the ground. Staxton won over course and distance last time and has come out of the race really well. We've been aiming him at this race and are hoping it comes off.
David Barron, trainer of Gunmetal
He's in good form and the ground will be fine, but he has a mountain to climb from his draw [nine]. You don't want to be drawn in the middle at Ripon and he'll be lucky to get involved.
Paul Midgley, trainer of I Am A Dreamer
He's new to us this season and he won well over course and distance in June. He's drawn in one which, after seeing Watchable go so close the other week, might not be a negative. We'll stick to the far side and see how we go.
Adrian Nicholls, trainer of Abate
I was delighted to get in off a low weight and also have Joe [Fanning] riding him. It looks like he's got a good draw with all the fancied runners drawn high. He's in good order and likes the track.
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