Debussy the prelude to Rewilding's challenge
Thursday 21 July 2011
The use of pacemakers in high-class races has its contentious aspects but, if deployed in the correct spirit, they can contribute not only to a true test but the best of spectacles. There is little more exciting on the current sporting agenda, for instance, than the sight of Mark Cavendish being towed to triumph by his faithful HTC-Highroad train on sprint finish stages of the Tour de France. And, more appositely for this page, their use in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes of 1975 produced an epic.
That was the year that the late Dick Hern ran both Highest, a miler, and Kinglet, a stayer, to aid the cause of his St Leger and Coronation Cup hero Bustino, although the stable's tag-team effort was foiled by Grundy. On Saturday, in the 61st edition of the 12-furlong summer showpiece, two of the bigger guns are likely to have domestiques in the field: possibly St Nicholas Abbey, whose Aidan O'Brien stablemate Seville is among the entries, and certainly the Godolphin contender Rewilding, who will rely on old ally Debussy.
Part of the trick is to make sure the hare is a good enough performer not to be ignored by rivals, and Debussy, a top-level winner last year, is that. He also played his part last month in Rewilding's defeat of another Ballydoyle star, So You Think, at Royal Ascot. "The key to Rewilding is that he needs to get into a rhythm," said Godolphin's racing manager, Simon Crisford yesterday. "It's no good to him if they crawl then sprint; he has such a good turn of foot and loves to quicken off a fast pace."
With only a handful of runners due to line up for the £1m purse, an absence of cat-and-mouse tactics is likely to suit all the principals, each of whom is a proper mile-and-a-half horse. With the likelihood of some ease in the ground, last year's Derby and Arc winner Workforce is now clear favourite, 6-4 in most lists, having displaced St Nicholas Abbey. Rewilding is third choice, ahead of the three-year-old Nathaniel, who was supplemented to the race at a cost of £75,000 and remains favourite for the St Leger, for which there were 36 entries yesterday.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Harvey's Hope (9.00 Doncaster) Turns out before reassessment after a win four days ago and can round off a good day for his rider.
Dubawi Dancer (8.30 Doncaster) Has risen in the ratings after two from three this term but still looked ahead of the handicapper last time.
One to watch
Nasri (David Nicholls) Was not disgraced on the "wrong" side at Newmarket last time and surely has a decent prize in him.
Where the money's going
Riggins has been halved in price to 20-1 by Ladbrokes for next week's Totesport Mile at Goodwood.
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