Another wonderful day’s racing this afternoon with the first day of Newmarket’s July meeting and the opening day of York’s season with their feature the Dante Stakes. The latter under normal circumstances is the premier Derby trial but is taking place after the Epsom classic due to the global pandemic.
The ground was described as good on the July course at noon on Wednesday with further light rain forecast ahead of and during the meeting. In the valuable 6f sprint I hope to see Tom Marquand hang on to Nahaar (12.45) longer than was the case at Royal Ascot last month when James Doyle, arguably, made his bid for glory sooner than ideal. The selection – 2s with Boylesports – had the plum draw at the Royal meeting but is drawn towards the centre of the track – stalls far side – this afternoon. I feel there is more to come from the William Haggas – trained colt over sprint distances this term and he is just 1lb higher than for his run in the Silver Wokingham.
Maydanny won his race on the far side in the Silver Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot and is a warm order for the Mile Handicap, but he is short enough in the market – 6/4 at William Hill – and the ew alternative is Balgair (1.15) who is 14/1 with bet365 and is 11lbs better off with the favourite for the 6L he was behind the Mark Johnston-trained runner at Yarmouth on his reappearance.
The selection finished runner up off a 4lbs higher mark over C&D last season and is a previous winner on the July course. Almufti finished in front of Maydanny at Royal Ascot and is another to consider although he raced next to the favoured stands’ rail.
William Haggas has made no secret of how highly he rates Al Aasy and he easily landed the odds on the Rowley Mile course last time. The form of his seasonal reappearance behind Mishriff was given a boost when the winner dotted up in the French Derby last weekend, but I just favour the prospects of last week’s Limerick winner Dawn Rising (2.25) in the listed Bahrain Stakes over 1m 5f.
The Irish and Epsom Derbies have shown what an assortment of middle-distance 3-y-old riches Ballydoyle have this season and Dawn Rising improved for the step up to 12f when making all last time and, after just three careers starts, he is open to further improvement. The opening 11/4 looked too big but he is 7/4 with Unibet.
Connections will be keen to get a Group 1 win into Enbihaar (4.10) this term, but she escapes a penalty for her three Group successes last term in the concluding Gp 2 Princess Of Wales’s Stakes. John Gosden’s mare won first time out last season and, with Communique in the field, she should get the end-to-end gallop she needs at today’s mile-and-a-half trip. The mare is 2/1 at Boylesports.
Light rain forecast for York and the ground is likely to be no better than good for today’s Dante Stakes. Highest Ground (3.15) is unbeaten in two starts having won his sole start as a juvenile at Leicester before impressing at Haydock on his reappearance last month. With Ryan Moore committed to ride at Newmarket for Ballydoyle Oisin Murphy takes over on Sir Michael Stoute’s son of Frankel who could be out of the very top drawer. He is 5/6 with Boylesports.
Fox Vardy is likely to be all the rage for the mile-and-a-half handicap having scored at Newmarket by no fewer than 14L on his reappearance. The handicapper has had his say, however, although a 9lbs rise looks fair.
Andrew Balding has had a terrific start to the new season and his Purdey’s Gift (12.55) has his first start on turf since his juvenile days in the 1st division of the 10f handicap. There is nothing in the selection’s pedigree to suggest he won’t be at least as effective on turf and the four-year-old is only 3lbs higher than when scoring at Wolverhampton. Oisin Murphy takes over in the saddle on the ew selection who is widely available at 14s.
Cape Cavelli (1.30) runs in the 2nd division of the 10f handicap in the same colours as Purdey’s Gift and I hope he can go one better than when runner up at Newcastle on his reappearance last month. The selection – 10/3 with Boylesports – did not get the best of runs on that occasion although he could not be described as an unlucky loser. James Doyle has an unbeaten record on the gelding having delivered him inside the final furlong to win at Goodwood last season in his first-time visor which is reapplied this afternoon – wore cheek-pieces at Newcastle.
Solo Saxophone (4.50) has won both starts for Ben Haslam and there was much to like about his fluent win at Haydock over today’s 2m trip last time albeit from a 7lbs lower mark. Connections immediately nominated this race as his next target and his previous Thirsk win over 12f was given a boost at Pontefract on Tuesday when Sudona was a fluent winner back at 10f. The selection is 2/1 with bet365.