Wilko Saunters To Success

The winter following a 2yr old career can really help with the development of young horses. Some juveniles will unfortunately have peaked already, unable to improve like their rivals. Others will mature and that extra physical growth can see them reach their potential. Sergeant Wilko has always been a big framed horse and looks to have really filled into it since turning 3. It wasn’t just visually but his comeback run proved it as he ran away with the 6f Best Racing Odds Guaranteed At BetMGM Handicap at Newcastle.

There was plenty of promise from day one with Sergeant Wilko, who was the first 2yo runner of 2023. The son of Bungleinthejungle, finished second on debut at Musselburgh before making no mistake next time out at Thirsk. This subsequently led to King Power Racing making the acquisition and aiming the colt at Royal Ascot. Whilst he couldn’t make the step up to pattern company at that stage, it was felt that Sergeant Wilko would always benefit from a bit of patience, with the colt needing to really fill out and strengthen.

His last couple of runs didn’t produce the results but Sergeant Wilko had shown himself to be a strong traveller in those races. With the time to mature, he came back into training looking far more like the finished article. Coming to hand early in the year meant that it was either the all-weather or risk heavy going. Newcastle was selected as it should help with the powerful way of how Sergeant Wilko can gallop and travel.

The race only attracted 6 runners but was a very interesting 3yo contest. There are so many question marks at this time of year and when the joint fav was withdrawn at the start, the contest was down to 5. Tom Eaves was in the saddle and when his mount jumped well, he allowed Sergeant Wilko to stride on, taking the lead early on. The rest were happy to tuck in behind, although the fav was racing keen on the heels of Wilko.

Sergeant Wilko was not hanging around and held a length lead through the first half of the race. The market leaders were always in his slipstream, ready to challenge as they raced past the 3f marker. Sergeant Wilko had set a strong pace throughout but continued to travel smoothly on the front end as his rivals started to come under a drive. The challenges were not being thrown down just yet but they were readying themselves.

Tom was yet to move passing the 2f marker and the pair still held a length advantage. As his main rivals came under pressure, Sergeant Wilko galloped on nicely with Tom now just asking him to stretch and go through with his final effort. It was still all hands and heels, but that’s all it needed to be with Sergeant Wilko easily quickening up. The lead stretched to a couple of lengths and whilst his nearest test rival maintained that deficit, there didn’t look anyway of overturning it. Tom was keen to keep him up to his work and Sergeant Wilko was more than happy to oblige. Now inside the final furlong, he found another gear and doubled his advantage, sprinting to a 4 length lead and securing his second career win.

This win was very pleasing especially in the silk of King Power Racing. Their association with the yard began with Bielsa, who was retired this year, so for Sergeant Wilko to step up the plate was important moving forwards. He is a colt who was always was highly regarded and can hopefully develop throughout this year. He will be getting a hike in the ratings after this display but the big handicaps look like the right route in the early part of this season.

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