The ground was good to firm at York on Wednesday – let alone Thursday – and not as advertised and there is no rain forecast ahead of today’s seven-race card.
The opening 12f handicap is a belter with Wink Of An Eye heading the market for William Haggas in the colours of Her Majesty the Queen. David Egan takes over in the saddle with the progressive 3-y-old, who is chasing a five-timer, carrying just 8st 3lbs and he promises to be even more effective at this distance.
Strawberry Rock is out in stall seventeen which is a negative but is a must for the shortlist, but I am going to take a chance on Throne Hall (1.50) bouncing back to form for Roger Varian. I remember when the each way recommendation failed by less than a length to give 9lbs to the filly Golden Pass, who is now rated 102, at Thirsk earlier in the campaign and the drop back to today’s trip should suit.
The selection – 11s with 10Bet 5 places – ran his best race to date when third over C&D back in May when he gave ground away at the start. I hope Andrea Atzeni gets the selection into a prominent position from what looks a good draw in stall three.
Stradivarius (2.25) missed the Goodwood Cup on account of the prevailing soft ground, but I think he can put the record straight in the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup. The selection receives 3lbs from Goodwood winner Trueshan, but the latter is a much better horse when the mud is flying and a bigger threat to the winner may come from Andrew Balding’s Spanish Mission who finished in front of the selection when they filled the minor places in the Gold Cup back in June.
Stradivarius has only won one of his last five races, so he is hardly the champion stayer he was 12 months ago, but he has had realistic excuses for all those losses. There should be no excuses today.
The Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes is today’s feature race, and I am still kicking myself for deserting Suesa (3.35) – who I was all over in the Commonwealth Cup – in the King George Stakes at Goodwood dropped back to the minimum trip last time. The French filly has done all her winning with cut in the ground, but I know connections were keen to go to Ascot for fast ground in June and she looks sure to run a big race with William Buick keeping the mount.
There appeared no bias on the straight course on Wednesday – winners were draw 3, 12 and 13 – but I would still like to have been lower than stall fourteen.
The hope is that Winter Power (3) and American raider Golden Pal (1) cut each other throats towards the far rail. I hope to see the French filly strike fast and late although I would l would have preferred to see her have a single figure draw.
The 10f fillies’ handicap is ultra competitive and Sea La Rosa, Achelois and Jewel In My Crown are much respected, but Irish raider Umneyaat (4.40) looks well treated on the form of her fourth to subsequent Royal Ascot winner Create Belief back in May. That run was over a mile, but she stepped back up to an extended 9f when landing the odds at Ballinrobe last time. Today’s additional furlong will suit, and Jim Crowley takes the ride. The 7/2 4 places with William Hill looks about right.
King Triton (5.10) has left Roger Varian since he lowered the colours of the odds on favourite Motawaajed at Thirsk back in June and he has moved to Grant Tuer. Connections paid 100,000 gns for the horse last month and he could be well treated on his handicap debut given the runner up at Thirsk – who was conceding 7lbs – is now rated 97. I am a big admirer of the trainer and King Triton looks fairly treated from an opening mark of eighty-five. The 12s with William Hill 5 places is fair.
At Killarney I hope to see Winner Takes Itall (5.00) return to winning ways having run a terrific race in the Galway Hurdle last time. The selection was well supported ante post in the build up to the race and this looks a much more suitable opportunity at this stage of his career. The 7/2 available at the time of posting is fair.