BILL ESDAILE PREVIEWS THE BRITANNIA HANDICAP AND THE KING GEORGE V STAKES
THE Britannia Handicap (4.25pm) is the Royal Hunt Cup for three-year-olds and picking the winner of this 30-runner event is normally more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack.
This year could be a little different, though, because I am very keen on the chances of Richard Hannon’s WENTWORTH at 9/2 with Paddy Power. Before you start spitting out your cornflakes, yes I do realise I am tipping a 9/2 shot in a 30-runner handicap, but let me give you the reasons why.
Firstly, I genuinely think that this horse could be running in Group One races by the end of the season, never mind class two handicaps. He is impeccably bred and if connections had wanted to they could probably have targeted him at the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at the start of this season.
However, when he was allotted a handicap mark of 92 last September you can just imagine the sight of Messrs Hannon, Magnier, Tabor and Smith rubbing their hands together in unison.
Wentworth was third on his seasonal reappearance at Goodwood, but that doesn’t even tell a quarter of the story. In a race run over six furlongs, too short a trip for him, he travelled with supreme ease and the only reason he didn’t win was that the gaps failed to open up.
There is always a risk of that happening again, but he’s drawn high near the stands side rail and, as long as Richard Hughes can keep him out of trouble, he is going to be very difficult to beat. Coincidentally, four of the last five winners of this race have carried 8st 10lb and Wentworth is the only horse that’s been handed that weight.
The biggest danger by far is Henry Candy’s Cape Peron, who also looked like a future Group performer at Doncaster last time. It wasn’t much of a race but the way he quickened was frightening, and I think he is the only one capable of beating Wentworth.
The issue with Cape Peron is that he has looked a little quirky in the past and his trainer has expressed concerns about his ability to handle quicker conditions. If the ground continues to dry out, you’d have to be worried, while there are no issues on that front with Wentworth who has already won on good-to-firm. This is, of course, a handicap and you never know who is lurking down the field, but I’d be hugely surprised if anything is more ahead of its mark than Wentworth and Cape Peron.
Maputo is respected on the far side for Mark Johnston, although I’m happy to stick with Wentworth as my sole selection.
WENTWORTH 4.25pm Ascot