Past Winners » Duncan


Native Ruler could be difficult to beat here. A son of Love Divine, he has always been highly regarded by Henry Cecil, Tom Queally chose to ride him instead of Father Time when the latter won the King Edward at Royal Ascot in 2009, and he was unlucky to just get beaten by the highly talented Dandino in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket two weeks ago on his first run since August 2009.

However, we know that horses can bounce on their second run back after a long break. Native Ruler had a really hard race at Newmarket, and it was only 13 days ago. Reports suggest that he is going really well at home, but he has always been a good worker, and you never know until they get to the racetrack if they are going to bounce or not. Furthermore, he is stepping up to a mile and six furlongs for the first time. He is a half-brother to St Leger winner Sixties Icon, so he should get it, but it just may all be a bit much for him today.

Duncan is also stepping up in trip, but he is also bred to get it (he is a half-brother to Samuel) and he is a much more solid proposition. I thought that he would be clear favourite, and he is a bet at 4/1. Duncan is a classy performer, he chased Harbinger home in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot last June, when he had highly talented performers like Barshiba, Sans Frontieres and Redwood behind him, and he then went and won the Prix Foy at Longchamp. He did disappoint on occasion last season, like in the Glorious Stakes at Goodwood in July, but he still had Manighar behind him that day. Also, he has been gelded during the winter, and it may be that that has ironed the quirks out of him.

He doesn’t necessarily need to improve for the step up in trip, he is the classiest horse in the race and he should be up to conceding 3lb all round, but there is every chance that he will improve for the extra distance. On top of that, he seemed to improve when they started riding him handily last season, and there is a chance that he will have it all to himself up front today. It has been difficult to make ground from the rear over the last two days at York and, if the highly talented William Buick can move over to the stands rail early in the home straight, Duncan may prove difficult to pass.

John Gosden’s horses are in good form, and the trainer has said that this race has been Duncan’s early season target. He won on his seasonal debut in 2009, and he was beaten a short head and a half a length on his two other seasonal debuts, so we know that he goes well fresh. He is a lightly-raced six-year-old and he is the classiest horse in the race. The trip may be too sharp for Askar Tau, who shouldn’t have Duncan’s class anyway, while the ground should be too fast for Clowance and Manighar, who hasn’t progressed as you expected him to last season anyway.

DUNCAN WON (ADV 4/1 [R4], SP 11/4)