Andrew Balding Wokingham Stakes Royal Ascot 2012The Wokingham Stakes is a Class Two Heritage Handicap, which takes place on the final day of Royal Ascot. Established back in 1813, the race is always a popular one and is steeped in history – but who will add their name to the long list of winners this year? We have a couple of decent priced selections, courtesy of Paddy Power, including one trained by Andrew Balding (right).

This year’s Wokingham Stakes will take place on Saturday 23rd June and at present, there are more than 100 entrants remaining in the field. This will be trimmed down at the weekend with the next round of declarations, but in the meantime we have a chance to get some antepost bets on at bigger prices.

In recent years, we’ve seen some really close finishes in the Wokingham – including a dead heat – and the 2012 renewal promises to be no exception. Of course, this makes finding the winner extra tricky, but as always, we’ll adopt our tried and trusted trends based approach in order to thin out the field, before looking more closely at whatever we are left with.

Key Trends

Age

  • 12 of the last 13 winners of the Wokingham Stakes were aged five or younger

Younger horses hold a significant edge in the Wokingham Stakes, with 12 of the past 13 winners being aged five or younger. The one exception was aged six, so we should definitely be shying away from the more senior horses.

Weight

  • 11 of the last 13 winners of the Wokingham Stakes at Ascot carried between 8st 11lbs and 9st 6lbs
  • 10 of the last 13 winners of the Wokingham were officially rated between 95 and 102

These trends suggest that we should be looking for well handicapped horses that are set to race off a nice weight. The vast majority of Wokingham Stakes winners fall into a weight range of 8st 11lbs to 9st 6lbs and were officially rated between 95 and 102. These are, therefore, logical places to begin looking for the 2012 Wokingham winner.

Recent Form

  • 12 of the last 13 Wokingham winners had run in a prep race within the 50 days leading up to the Royal Ascot race
  • 11 of the last 13 winners had placed in their Royal Ascot prep race

Significant trends emerge from looking at past Wokingham winners that suggest we should be looking for in form, race sharp horses, rather than anything returning from a lengthy lay off or a horse that’s failed to be there or thereabouts in its Ascot prep race.

Past Form

  • All of the last 13 Wokingham Stakes winners had won a race over 6f or 7f in their career, prior to Royal Ascot
  • 10 of the last 13 winners had won a Class Two race or better

Royal Ascot’s Wokingham Stakes is run over a testing six furlongs, which means that we should be looking for horses with winning form over six or seven furlongs. Furthermore, a certain amount of proven ability is a clear advantage – the vast majority of Wokingham winners arrived at Ascot with a Class Two success (or better) already under their belt and the three exceptions to this trend had all finished second in a Class Two event.

Summary

Applying these trends to the 2012 Wokingham Stakes field leaves us with just three possible contenders – Desert Law, Mirza and King Of Jazz.

Michael Bell’s King Of Jazz has only ever won one career race – a maiden over a year ago, but has had a few near misses in this sort of company in recent times. I think that the four year old bay is going to have to improve a bit to beat some of these, so the best price of 26.00 (Paddy Power, BoyleSports) doesn’t really tempt me, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for having an Each-Way nibble as he often runs into a place in this type of event.

The two that I am much more interested in are the Andrew Balding trained Desert Law and Rae Guest’s Mirza.

The former is a beautifully bred four year old, by Oasis Dream and out of a Cadeaux Genereux mare, and has been tried in a couple of Listed races, where he didn’t disgrace himself. Last time out he went close in the Investec Dash at Epsom (half a length second) and if Desert Law lines up in the Wokingham, he must be respected as he is sure to win a race like this at some point. 17.00 is generally available and this looks a fair price to me.

A bigger priced Wokingham Stakes alternative is Mirza (26.00, Paddy Power, SportingBet). The five year old bay gelding is also by Oasis Dream and has been picking off this type of race all year, with two wins and a second place from four attempts. This will be a sterner test, and he’s up 4lbs on his last time out success, but I would be confident of another big run should he line up at Royal Ascot.

Advice

The Wokingham Stakes
Saturday 23rd June 2012, 16:25

Desert Law (Each-Way) @ 16.00 (Paddy Power)
Mirza (Each-Way) @ 26.00 (Paddy Power)