Undervalued Workforce deserves solidarity in test of his true worth

Reputation, on the Turf as anywhere else, is just as Shakespeare reckoned: oft got without merit, and lost without deserving. For some reason, the big showdown at Sandown today has divided two champions in the esteem of punters.

An odds-on defeat at Royal Ascot has not made the slightest difference to their opinion of So You Think. Yet they continue, mysteriously, to quibble with Workforce.

As a rule, a race like this would be best savoured as a purist. Though there are only five runners, including a pacemaker, you can have 9-1 against one of the most accomplished fillies on the planet, Snow Fairy. That's how tough it is to separate the two favourites for the Coral Eclipse Stakes. But the disparity in prices, between them, means that Workforce must be recommended as a value bet.

All week long, there has been an unhesitating torrent of support for So You Think. Workforce, in contrast, is positively leprous. The theory goes that the return to 10 furlongs this season, to broaden his commercial appeal as a stallion, does not play to his strengths. It is also muttered that his stable is having a far less fertile season than normal.

Conversely, punters have been buying enthusiastically into the notion that So You Think is even better than he showed at Ascot, when beaten for the first time since being sent to Co Tipperary by his new owners. Having arrived as one of the outstanding Australian thoroughbreds of recent times, he had pulverised modest fields in his first two starts for Aidan O'Brien. In the Prince of Wales's Stakes, however, he was run down close home by Rewilding, the pair miles clear.

Now that is top-class form, even as it stands. Nor was it Ballydoyle's finest hour, So You Think's pacemaker having been rushed into a pointless lead before duly imploding, leaving Ryan Moore to commit a long way from home. O'Brien, moreover, insists he had miscalculated the work required to bring So You Think, accustomed to intensive Australian methods, to concert pitch. We will get the proof of that pudding today, because an interval of barely a fortnight after what looked a really hard race would otherwise leave the creature jaded, rather than bring him on.

Either way, why make assumptions in favour of one horse, and be so reluctant to take the record of another at face value? Workforce has still only had six starts. On the third of them, he won the Derby by seven lengths, smashing the track record. (Rewilding was back in third, albeit he may not have been at home on the track.) He went on to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and, with so few miles on the clock, was laudably kept in training.

On his return, he made a thoroughly convincing reconnaissance of today's course and distance. Thought to need the run, and shouldering a 7lb penalty, he was the only one able to get after a breakaway leader, leaving him 11 lengths clear of the third. That acceleration was no surprise to those who remember his debut, quickening from last over seven furlongs at Goodwood.

Workforce has achieved so much it seems eccentric to go looking for reasons to back something else at shorter odds. Certainly, the overall form of Sir Michael Stoute's stable looks a red herring, especially after the win of Workforce's galloping companion Class Is Class at Sandown yesterday.

The man out to stop Workforce knows all about waiting patiently for recognition. Having partnered So You Think in an undemanding assignment at the Curragh in May, Heffernan gets back on him because Moore has been claimed by Stoute. Perhaps O'Brien's patrons are finally sensing that the solution to their jockey predicament is staring them in the face. Going for the best available, as they have since Johnny Murtagh's departure, is all very well. But their history of retaining a stable jockey suggests they value continuity; likewise, the way they drafted in Christophe Soumillon and Kieren Fallon to ride potential Derby mounts in their trials.

In the event, the man who came closest to winning them the Derby was Colm O'Donoghue, who shares a back-stop role with Heffernan at Ballydoyle. O'Donoghue gave the unfancied Treasure Beach a superb ride at Epsom, claiming the position craved by every other jockey in the field rounding Tattenham Corner and striking for home with such timing and effect that he was collared only at the post.

Horse and rider gained their reward in their home Derby last Sunday, where Heffernan, replacing Soumillon, prompted a career best from Seville in second. O'Donoghue has been strangely neglected since Murtagh left. More than merely reliable, he has a touch of flair. Even as an apprentice, he always looked the part. But his self-effacing nature, and absorption in the Ballydoyle team ethic, has perhaps diluted his reputation even among his patrons. They evidently feel he lacks experience in the crucibles of the sport. Back in 2007, however, he came from last to win a Classic at Longchamp, a notoriously tricky track. Last autumn, he outrode his rivals for a Grade One prize in Canada. Given a chance, he always seems to take it.

He will be heartened, perhaps, that another Ballydoyle stalwart has been entrusted perhaps the most valuable animal in the stable. Otherwise, he and Workforce could ask each other the same question about reputation: "What exactly do you have to do to get some respect round here?"

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Dimension (4.50 Sandown)

Progressive profile in maidens suggested him to be on a fair mark before his handicap debut at Newmarket last time, but he proved too free early on and should relish a stronger pace dropped in trip here.

Next Best

Bourne (3.25 Haydock)

Failed to handle the track at Epsom last time, but had previously guaranteed improvement for this kind of test – as his genes promise – when steadily overcoming a slow pace over 10f here.

One To Watch

My Freedom (Saeed bin Suroor) made a promising resumption when heavily backed at Newcastle last week, travelling strongly and failing only narrowly after giving the winner a start while caught in traffic.

Where The Money's Going

Brown Panther is 2-1 from 5-2 with William Hill to win the German Derby for Michael Owen in Hamburg tomorrow.

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
News
David Ryall in Harry Potter
people
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Wayne Rooney warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane
football
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015