Past Winners » Sole Power


I do think that it makes sense to back Sole Power now at 10/1 for the King’s Stand Stakes, mind you. Favourite Shea Shea apart, the King’s Stand is not a hugely strong race this year. It doesn’t have the strong international element that it has had in the past, and it lacks the strength in-depth that the Diamond Jubilee has had in the past.

There is no rocket science about the case for Sole Power. He is just a top class sprinter, at his best over five furlongs on fast ground off a fast pace, all of which he should get on Tuesday, and he is in the form of his life.

He was beaten on his latest run in the Temple Stakes at Haydock, but you can forgive him that run. (He was) closer to the pace than he usually likes. He travelled just behind the pace, and he actually hit the front on the near side more than one furlong from home. That was far too early for him.

Johnny Murtagh should be back on board on Tuesday, and Johnny knows him really well. He is adept at holding him up and delivering him at the right time, utilising his top class turn of foot to maximum effect like releasing a coiled spring.

I was against him in this race last year, simply because he had run twice at Ascot and had disappointed on both occasions, but there were excuses for both of those runs (ground and run of the race), and he proved in this race last year that he could operate at Ascot, no question.

He did remarkably well to finish as close as he did in third place that day. Drawn away from the action in stall 22 (the other four horses who, with him, filled the first five places were drawn seven, eight, three and six respectively), Murtagh had to go for him earlier than ideal, he had to make his own ground in daylight on the near side, simply because he had nothing to carry him into the race from his position on the near side. Even so, he closed on the leaders all the way to the line, conceding ground by drifting over towards them on the far side, to finish third, just a length and three quarters behind the winner Little Bridge, with the front three clear.

He does have to reverse form with Kingsgate Native, Reckless Abandon and Swiss Spirit from Haydock, and all three are players. Swiss Spirit was desperately unlucky when we had him on side at Haydock, he got badly hampered at the start, and he lost far more than the neck by which Kingsgate Native beat him. But he was badly disappointing in the Jersey Stakes last year on his only run at Ascot, and that is enough to put me off.

Reckless Abandon won the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot last year over Tuesday’s course and distance, and he is a danger for sure, he ran a cracker in the Temple Stakes, and he is still relatively lightly-raced. Three-year-olds don’t do badly in this race from minimal representation, with Equiano and Dominica winning it this millennium, and Pivotal, Dayjur and Mitcham winning it in the previous decade. However, Reckless Abandon is not an overly big horse, he does not have that much physical scope for progression, and a tough King’s Stand Stakes against hardened international opponents just might be a bit much for him. At a longer price I prefer Sole Power.

The international element is fairly formidable. Shamexpress is a high-class sprinter, but Shea Shea is by far the biggest danger. Mike de Kock’s horse had Sole Power behind him twice at Meydan in the spring when he won a listed race and the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint.

Again, there were excuses for Sole Power in the Al Quoz Sprint. Again, he found himself racing on the near side, with just one horse for cover, as the race developed in the centre. He probably wouldn’t have beaten Shea Shea even if he had enjoyed more cover, but he probably would have got closer to him than the two and a half lengths by which he was beaten.

Two other things give Sole Power a chance against the South African. Firstly, he is proven at Ascot whereas Shea Shea has never run there. That is a factor. Meyday’s surface is very different to Ascot’s. Secondly, Shea Shea disappointed on his debut at Meydan in January after being off the track since the previous April. He hasn’t run now since March, and it may be that he is a better horse coming into a race on the back of a run.

That all gives Sole Power a chance and, at 10/1, it is a chance that is worth taking. In a race that lacks strength in-depth and in which there is a warm favourite, he is an each-way bet.