There is the chance of a shower at York this afternoon and possibly a heavier one this evening ahead of the Ebor tomorrow.
My two against the field in the opening mile-and-a-half handicap are MAHRAJAAN (8/1) and PARACHUTE 20/1.
Mahrajaan was my pick in the John Smith’s Cup but drifted like a barge before the off and was almost pulled up. He showed his true form when runner up at Newmarket under a huge weight last time, has a good draw in stall four and is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time. I am sure there is more to come from the Haggas trained gelding after just eight career starts.
I have backed both, but I do think the value lies with Parachute who was not at his best when finishing in midfield in a valuable apprentice race at Chester last time in a race that is working out very well. He is best judged on his win at Newbury on his penultimate start under Buick – 4lbs higher today – he has a good draw in stall five and Ed Walker’s string are flying at present.
I am a fully paid-up member of the Stradivarius fan club and will be cheering on the old boy in the Lonsdale Cup. He is six from six at York and should win with no Kyprios in the field, but he is short enough in the betting at 11/10 and I remember how well Coltrane was travelling at Goodwood last time before finishing tamely. A race best watched for me.
Lusail carried a 3lbs penalty to success in the Gimcrack 12 months ago and Royal Scotsman heads the market as he bids to follow up his win in the Richmond Stakes at the Glorious meeting last time. Having been all over the Coles’ juvenile at Goodwood I am loath to desert him, but this is a much better race, and the penalty is a negative.
Charlie Appleby’s Noble Style is drawn nearest the stands’ rail and the limited evidence from day one suggested to me that low numbers were at an advantage on the straight course. CLEARPOINT is one of three unbeaten colts in the field, and I am of the opinion he could be very smart.
Trained by Richard Fahey the 2-y-old has won a couple of moderate contests with the minimum of fuss but has done so in the manner of an exciting horse. I would be disappointed if he didn’t run a big race and the 9/1 available, at the time of writing, looked too big although I do believe this is a vintage renewal of the race.
Recommendation: Clearpoint EW at 9/1 with Boylesports 4 places
The Platinum Queen had the clock-watchers purring when doing us a favour in landing a listed race at Goodwood last time although she raced on the favoured stands’ rail and is drawn in the centre of the track in stall thirteen today.
Hollie Doyle takes the ride on the juvenile who has been supplemented for the Group 1 Nunthorpe at a cost of 40k. She is likely to face a battle for the lead, however, with last year’s winner Winter Power likely to blaze the trail towards the far rail and help tow ROYAL ACLAIM into the race. She carries just 8st 2lbs with her age/sex allowances and will feel she is let loose as she bids to become the first juvenile to win the race since Kingsgate Native in 2007. She is reluctantly overlooked.
I highlighted the prospects of Royal Aclaim – yes just one c – for the Nunthorpe after her success in the listed City Walls Stakes over C&D last month and she is well drawn in two with the stalls placed on the far side. She is unbeaten in her three starts and, while I appreciate this represents a big step up in class, I cannot desert her now.
The filly is a best price of 13/8, but I am convinced she will drift out to circa 5/2 given her form does not make her a 13/8 shot. Few horses have impressed me more this year, however, and I will be with her until she meets with defeat.
Recommendation: Royal Aclaim at SP
The classic generation have won the two previous renewals of the 10f fillies’ handicap, and I am still kicking myself for not recommending AMANZOE at the Shergar Cup and I thought she could be called the winner from a long way out in that 0-90 classified event.
The Haggas-trained 3-y-old is unbeaten at today’s 10f trip and a 3lbs rise looks fair given I thought Joanna Mason had plenty in hand at Ascot last time. Fellow 3-y-old Shampion hosed up at Windsor last time and a mark of 84 looks workable for her handicap debut, but the main danger could be State Occasion who is only 5lbs higher than when winning at Goodwood last time.
That form has already been franked by runner up Rousay who won a listed race at Salisbury earlier in the month. That was only her second start at 10f, and she looked to improve for the additional quarter of a mile. Preference for the 3-y-old is marginal.
Recommendation: Amanzoe at 3/1 with William Hill
Operating heads the mark for the concluding mile 3-y-old handicap for his powerful connections and the yard won the corresponding race 12 months ago. I thought they got racing too soon at Nottingham last time and Operating picked up the pieces.
In recent years, a low draw has been a big positive with the winners coming out of stalls 2-5-3-3-2-8. Operating comes out of stall ten this afternoon and an 8lbs rise for his win at Colwick Park looks steep.
LEUVEN POWER carries a 6lbs penalty for scoring at Salisbury last week on his first try at a mile and the handicapper has seen fit to hit him with an 11lbs rise. He is thus 5lbs “well-in” today and he bounced off the fast ground in Wiltshire.
The draw in stall nine is less than ideal but the selection has won two of his three starts so far this term and his defeat was in a tactical 7f affair on the July course which did not play to his strengths. He gets the each way vote.
Recommendation: Leuven Power EW at 13/2 with 888Sport 5 places
I am disappointed that the ITV cameras are not taking in the BetVictor sponsored 12f handicap at Newbury as its an absolute cracker. Meleri was no match for Amanzoe at Sandown last time out, but the winner has gone in again and I have outlined above why she has a cracking chance at York in a race that starts 40 minutes after Meleri has strutted her stuff.
This is Meleri’s first start at 12f, and she is not guaranteed to appreciate the step up in distance on breeding. If she does, she will be tough to beat.
That said I cannot desert WAGGA WAGGA who was beaten a neck at Salisbury by Caius Chorister who will race off a mark, arguably, 40lbs higher in the weights in the Melrose on Saturday given he was ridden by apprentice Benoit De La Sayette at Salisbury who was claiming 5lbs at the time.
The selection has won his last two and gone up 17lbs in the weights himself, but he looked well ahead of his mark at both Pontefract and here last time out over slightly further. Sean Levey will not want the race to be tactical – there is no guaranteed pace in the race – but the grey remains open to further improvement.
Recommendation: Wagga Wagga at 2/1 with William Hill
I’m looking forward to the return of Simply Sondheim coming back from a 10-week lay-off for George Boughey in the 6.29 and I like the booking of Ben Curtis for this progressive sort who has won his last four since going handicapping and following a gelding operation.
The 10f handicap sees the return of BUNKER BAY who has been off the course since finishing second over a mile at Yarmouth on his handicap debut when he strongly hinted – his breeding concurs – that he would improve again for the step up to 10f.
The selection was taken out of a race at Newbury last month (10f) with a vet’s certificate, but he must have been given the all clear by William Knight to make the journey north from his Newmarket home. He is out of an all-weather winner at this trip and his sire Australia is a strong stamina influence.
Recommendation: Bunker Bay at 9/4 with Bet365