For a horse who looked a potential Derby candidate earlier in the season the Mark Johnston-trained Windhoek has been slightly disappointing since winning the £200,000 Tattersalls Millions Two-Year-Old Trophy as well as the Listed Newmarket Stakes back in April and May respectively. The son of Cape Cross had his Classic credentials tested on his fourth start ( winner of only outing as a juvenile ) when sent to York for the Group 2 Betfred Dante Stakes but could finish no better than fifth behind Epsom runner-up Libertarian and Irish Derby winner Trading Leather.
To be beaten just over four lengths by those two high-class performers was still an excellent effort considering Joe Fanning’s mount appeared to have his stamina stretched over the extended 1m 2f trip. After looking the potential winner over a furlong out on his next start in Royal Ascot’s Tercentenary Stakes Windhoek once again weakened late on behind the hugely promising winner Remote, with 2000 Guineas third Van Der Neer again filling that position.
Dropped back to a mile for his next start in Sandown’s valuable Coral Challenge Mark Johnston’s charge possibly found the ground too fast on the Esher course and it is probably best to put a line through that below-par effort. The trainer has an enviable record in today’s £130,000 Heritage Handicap ( his Fulbright took the contest last year ) and of his three entries today Windhoek has the best of the draw in stall 3 and it would be no surprise if his jockey Franny Norton took the bull by the horns and set out to make all. In a twenty-runner handicap on this difficult course there is sure to be plenty of trouble in running, a fact which should not apply to the selection who is a confident selection.