That’s how the market have Workforce right about now. I was going to type up this whole thing about my doubts, but then Paddy Power sent me this, and made me laugh so I thought I’d share as per the spirit of the age.
It’s the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, hitherto referred to as the Ball And Chain Dash – what it lacks in communicating the tender loving relationship between a former monarch and his wife it more than makes up for in being easy to type. To quote Shakespeare, ‘whatever crappy name we decide to call it, it’s still going to be a really kickass race ;-)’.
Ok, you’ve caught us – Shakespeare never used emoticons.
It’s one of the highlights of the flat season for several reasons that we haven’t thought of yet, but chief among them is the fact that it’s the first time the cream of the current Classic crop take on the cream of the older horses who haven’t been shipped off on mare-humping duty. To express it in a human rite of passage way – it’s a bit like the first time you take on someone who’s not your own age in a game of pool. A game of pool worth about £600,000.
The main thing we’re going to find out is if Workforce is really all that. In terms of speed, his victory in the Derby was the most impressive since 1845 when someone first had the idea of taking a watch along to Epsom to see how fast the horses were actually going and more than likely the quickest Derby win of all time. The bad news for him is that the connection between winning the Derby and winning the Ball And Chain Dash is about as pronounced as Big Brother contestants having doctorates in astrophysics. And the fact that the horses he beat at Epsom have been playing musical statues since hasn’t helped his reputation
The greatest challenge to Sir Michael Stoute winning this race may come from none other than Sir Michael Stoute. That’s not to suggest he has a multiple personality disorder or he enjoys sabotaging himself, it’s our way of telling you he trains the top two in the betting.
Harbinger looks to be the main rival to Workforce. He spent his Classic year arsing around and putting in performances that were mainly tripe, but with age he has really hit his stride to become a real heavyweight. Think Robert Downey Junior in equine form, but without the rampant substance abuse. In 2010 he’s turned a corner which was fortunate for him because the road he had been on was leading him to the glue factory. Stoute looks to have saved him from a fate which involved being turned into something they show you how to make on Blue Peter.
The new route has taken him to victory in two Group 3 races, but it was his impressive win over the same course and distance during Posh Week at Ascot aka Royal Ascot that has him so highly rated. The win in the Hardwicke Stakes was impressive in itself, but also suggested there was further improvement to come. Stoute also has Confront in the race and while our legal team have warned us against using the phrase ‘pacesetter’ we would suggest, that his job will mainly be to set the … tempo of the race.
If you don’t think either of Stoute’s good horses are going to do it or just like backing horses that are named after terrorities governed by both Morocco and Mauritius, then the chances are you’re considering the chances of Cape Blanco. Much was made of Workforce losing in the Dante yet going on to win the Derby, but the more traditional route is winning the Dante and going on to win the Derby. Injury ensured Cape Blanco didn’t get his chance to record that double, but he did claim the Irish Derby by way of consolation.’Like the Epsom version, we’re not completely sure about the quality of the vanquished opponents, but he’s certainly good – how good we’ll soon find out.
In an over-hasty summary of the other runners, Youmzain has been a quality performer for Mick Channon over the years, but his habit of not actually winning suggests winning may be beyond him. Alain de Royer Dupre has decided to send Daryakana to Ascot. He must need his stocks of Yorkshire Pudding replenished because on the face of it, the leading contenders would seem to have his number and place money is pretty much the best he can hope for.
We reckon Workforce will step up to the plate and prove his class, but then again we thought Bowfinger would be the end for Robert Downey Junior.
Inconveniently they disagree with me and think he will do the business, but I am more uncertain. A visually impressive win in the Derby (and the clock agreed) will surely have taken something out of this magnificent animal. On top of that, I was concerned about the trip prior to the Derby, something that continues to bother me, although having read that Workforce’s dam is a full sister to St Leger winner Brian Boru I might shelve that doubt. I am very prepared to be wrong about his winningness, after all Workforce is 11/10 on as I type, but I have this niggle that he might “bounce”.