Past Winners » Kings Gambit


Michael Stoute has won the last three renewals of this race with some high class horses, so it is understandable that Nouriya has been backed already this morning, but her best form is on easier ground, and she was well beaten when she stepped out of listed class for the first time in the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp last October. It wouldn’t be surprising if she was a slower burn this season, and if she were to come on for today’s run.

Afsare is a horse I like a lot, but he is another who should progress as the season develops. Luca Cumani’s horses are just taking a little while to hit peak form this term so far, and Afsare’s only defeat last year was on his seasonal debut. Also, we haven’t seen him since Royal Ascot, he may come on for this run, and it may be that he needs a truer test of stamina than 10 furlongs around Sandown on fast ground with the possibility of a slow early pace presents.

Viscount Nelson kept the best of company last season, but he is another whom we haven’t seen for a while, not since he finished third behind a below par Twice Over and Sri Putra over this course and distance in the Eclipse. He is another who may do better later in the season, and Aidan O’Brien’s recent record with his British invaders is not good.

In contrast to the top three, it is probable that this race has been an early-season target for Kings Gambit for a while. He has probably been trained for it. He is seven, he is not fashionable and he is definitely not progressive, but he is at least a Group 3 performer – he finished second behind some high class horses last term, including Wigmore Hall and Rainbow Peak, and he was only a length behind Rio De La Plata in a Group 3 contest at York – and he proved that he was as good as ever when just getting beaten by the useful St Moritz (a winner subsequently as well) on his seasonal debut at Ripon two weeks ago, the pair of them coming clear of Monitor Closely.

It is not ideal that he has finished second in five of his last six races and third in the other, but he is not ungenuine, he does battle. He goes well on fast ground, and Tom Tate’s horses are in good form. It is likely that he will get his own way up front today (Black Spirit is probably his only possible challenger for the early lead), and that would be ideal. If Jamie Spencer is left on his own, it is easy to see him dictating a pace to suit himself and kicking from the front at the two-furlong pole. If that is the scenario that develops, he might take some catching.