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Wokingham Stakes preview

For me Saturday will be all about Black Caviar, but she's not really a betting option, so we need to look a bit wider. Examining the conundrum which is the Wokingham Handicap is a first-previewer on my blog, Sunday Independent writer Ronan Groome. You can follow him on Twitter @ronangroome20

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If, by the time the Wokingham Stakes comes round, you’re still looking for your first winner at this year’s Royal Ascot meeting, there is a good chance you’re not going to find it in this 29-runner field. On the flip side if you do manage to unlock the code, there is every chance your punting week could be turned right around.

Double figure odds the field, with most firms offering ¼ the odds first five each way terms, there is some cracking value to be found in this the last big handicap race of the week.

By far the most interesting runner in the race is ex-Aussie sprinter Scarf. This son of Lonhro moved to Godolphin earlier this year and started his campaign with a couple of decent efforts in Meydan. He was slightly disappointing on his first two starts in Britain in listed company but then put up a cracking effort to finish second to Tariq Too at Doncaster over seven furlongs. That effort means that he is 6lbs well in here, and back over six furlongs on his desired soft ground, he looks well capable of outrunning his best odds of 25/1. We all know how successful the Aussie sprinters have been at Ascot, and this fellow may well be able to follow in his compatriot’s footsteps.

It’s difficult to gauge which side you want to be on, so if you’re going to back two or three here, perhaps the best strategy is to split them across the track. High Standing, the choice of Ryan Moore, will reside in stall one and the 2009 winner of this race looks interesting here. Of course, a lot has changed since Jeremy Gask’s horse came into this race as a progressive four-year-old with just 10 starts to his name, but there was so much to like about his latest effort to finish fourth in a decent six-furlong handicap at Newmarket.

The son of High Yield was held up in the last pair before finishing really fast and just failing to pick up the leaders. He was best of those who were held up and the three who finished ahead of him raced as the front trio throughout the race. For that reason he deserves a lot of credit and he is worth playing as well at 20/1. I’m not a fan of backing more than two horses in a race so that is where my betting interest will finish, but I wouldn’t put anyone off High Standing’s stablemate Medicean Man. He’s an Ascot specialist, he handles soft ground and he ran a cracker to be fourth in the King’s Stand on Tuesday. Providing there are no ill-effects from that run, he should make a bold bid.

Others on my shortlist were Mac’s Power, Colonel Mak and King Of Jazz. The first-mentioned is just the type for a big-field handicap and ran a cracker in this race last year when he “won” the race on his side of the track. Colonel Mak has put in two cracking efforts lately and looks in good heart, while King Of Jazz is the most interesting of those unexposed and ran really well previously on soft ground on this track.

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