Bragging to bag York Stakes

The rain caused chaos yesterday with lots of going changes and through out doubts over the participation of Golden Horn in the King George VI.

With further rain expected on the already soft ground it’s best to look for horses that relish the slower ground, especially at turf tracks in the south.

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There is plenty to get our teeth stuck into as usual for a Saturday. I’ve focussed on the cards Ascot and York.

13:45 York

Chain Of Daises has been visually eyecatching since stepping up to this one mile two furlong trip. She got the run of the race at Sandown when she won by just under two lengths and she followed that up with victory by over three lengths on good to firm ground at Sandown. The handicapper has given her another 9lb rise for that Sandown win on top of the 7lb hike for the Goodwood success, however the manner of those victories suggests there could still be more to come.

From the Goodwood race the second horse Banditry has gone on to win since then giving the form some strength well the second horse in the Sandown win Pacify won a two-runner contest next time out. The only slight concern is that she likes to go from the front, which isn’t always the best way to win at York with most coming off the pace for glory.

Supreme Occasion found some form over a mile on her latest start when second behind Roxy Star. She runs off the same mark but her two previous efforts at this trip have been disappointing. However this is a weak race and she is definitely on to consider for a place. Mythcial City completed the hat-trick two starts ago at Chester but disappointed in her last race at Newmarket. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see her bounce back but I think she still needs to find a bit more than what she has already shown. Out of the handicap is Pamushana but she has some good form. She was second in a maiden to Space Age, who won the King George V at Royal Ascot, and fourth to Covert Love, who won the Irish Oaks. In her last race she was fourth at Pontefract and the third has won since, so the form is there to suggest she could run well for Richard Fahey.

Advice: Chain Of Daisies (5/4 Win)

14:40 Ascot

Even though this is an 11-runner Class 2 handicap for me this revolves all around one runner.

That runner is Sir Michael Stoute’s Grand Inquisitor who is looking to complete the hat-trick here. He won his maiden on good to soft ground at Nottingham, so that should calm the concern about the ground. Further support for that is he is from Dansili, who himself didn’t mind cut in the ground and his progeny have a 12% on soft ground. So far it looks good. He won his maiden over this distance and stretched clear to win by 5l; there have been winners from that race too. He dropped in trip to 7f on handicap debut and came off the pace at Sandown to win suggesting he must be good. He did idle when getting to the front but the form looks good with the third Go Dan Go winning on both of his next two starts. For me there is the likelihood for further improvement, especially at this trip. The only concern would be about the 11lb rise in the weights but as I said there is a strong chance of improvement.

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Rocket Punch is a tracker horse but would need to improve dramatically to win this. He has a similar profile to Grand Inquisitor considering he’s won his maiden before winning his handicap debut on his latest appearance but that was only a Class 4 race on the all-weather at Kempton. Being unexposed compared to most of these could suggest there could be more to come. Pick Your Choice runs for the Queen and won a hot maiden at Chelmsford. The second from that maiden was Rifle Ridge, who has improved to win twice since suggesting there maybe more to come from this William Haggas runner. He has more of an American pedigree but his sire has a 12% strike rate with his progeny on soft ground and he encountered it last year on debut when sixth at Newmarket.

Of the rest Azraff at a double figure price could go well. The only worry would be the top weight and giving weight to all of his rivals. He is proven on soft ground after winning a Newcastle handicap on it last August. He’s been knocking on the door and to be honest he is a player in this race at around 10/1 in the market. This galloping straight course may also be advantageous. Portage represents Ireland and comes here after runs in two big field handicaps. He was 17th in the Britannia but previously was 11th in one of Ireland’s Premier Handicaps at the Curragh. Untried with cut in the ground but being by Teofilo it would suggest he should enjoy it. He did show good form as a juvenile and if finding that here he is bound to go close.

Advice: Grand Inquisitor (7/2 win)


14:55 York – Sky Bet York Stakes

This is a Group 2 race and with the ‘dead eight’ currently lining up I’m giving one a chance that has some each-way appeal.

Bragging is one of two four-year-olds in this race and she won the Group 2 Dahila Stakes for fillies at Newmarket back in May. It may not be the greatest form but Fintry has gone on to win a Group 3 at Chantilly since then. She disappointed over course and distance two starts ago in the Group 2 Middleton Stakes but that may have come too soon after her Newmarket exertion. On top of that Ryan Moore reported that she lost her action in the closing stages, therefore you can put a line through it. She was fourth in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot where she led but wasn’t good enough in the end. She’s been freshened up after 38 days of the course. This looks quite a weak race and she could earn another Group success here on the Knavesmire.

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Custom Cut is off top weight and is stepping into the unknown with all of his coming at one mile but he did win by a neck over one mile one furlong last year in the Group 3 Strensall Stakes, but that wasn’t the strongest group race and because of that he already looks a little too short. Prince Of Gibraltar comes from France making his British debut but all his best form comes with cut in the ground and there is yet to be any rain in the Yorkshire area. He was second in a Group 2 on his latest start at Chantilly over one mile four furlongs. He won a juvenile Group 1 over this trip, so that shouldn’t be a problem. He is a likely player, who will come off the pace but at his price the ground leaves a question mark.

Top Notch Tonto hasn’t really seen out his races in recent times so stepping up to this trip is a major concern and wouldn’t give me a lot of confidence to back him. Tulius won a Listed race at Doncaster over a mile and again there are stamina doubts about him. For me the main danger is going to be Tha’ir for Godolphin. He won and was second at Meydan in two valuable handicaps before returning to these shores to win at Sandown in a Listed race. Despite being five-years-old he could find some more improvement and he would need to find some in group company.

Advice: Bragging (9/1 each-way)


15:15 Ascot – International Stakes

A Heritage Handicap with 27-runners lining up for this seven furlong trip, so prepare those darts.

Rene Mathis won the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket with One Word More in second. Richard Fahey’s runner carries a 3lb penalty for that win but he puts Kieran Shoemark on board claiming 5lb. He won’t be inconvenienced by the cut in the ground after finishing second at Chester on soft ground in May. He is definitely a player. One Word More has been second on his last two starts. Again he shouldn’t mind the cut in the ground having won on soft and placed on good to soft.

Two starts ago he was beaten by Jallota at York on good to soft ground and Charlie Hills’ horse looks a big player in this race at quite a big price. He ran off this mark when fifth in the Bunbury Cup, which was on quick ground and I think the return to soft could be advantageous to his chances. Looking back to previous year’s a middle to high draw could be seen as more beneficial.

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A number of these ran in this race last year and Heaven’s Guest was best of those finishing fourth. He’s off the same mark of 103 here and again Jack Garrity takes the ride. The ground shouldn’t be a problem and he is another giving Richard Fahey an excellent chance. Brazos was another in this last year and he can’t be discounted as he does have good form on slow ground for Clive Brittain. He comes into this race off a 4lb lower mark when compared to last year and he is drawn high in 28.

My other pick in this race would be Donncha for Robert Eddery. He’s not a trainer with many horses and this could be his best currently in training. His four-year-old has progressed well this season winning three of five starts. Two starts ago he beat Excilly, who has gone on to win a Fillies Listed race at Carlisle while the fourth Solar Flair has won twice since, proving that form has strength. The only doubt would be the ground however he did win over a mile on soft ground last October suggesting it should be fine here. He will be running off his highest mark of 96 but Tom Marquand is proving his worth and is able to claim 5lb.

Two others to point out are Suzi’s Connoisseur and Victoria Cup winner Speculative Bid, who both have won on heavy ground, so shouldn’t have much trouble. It is worth pointing out that the former also has the first time visor on. Mark Johnston has won this race in the last two years and he saddles Enlace, who has had a busy season. He tends to do his winning when able to get the run of the race from the front and on quicker ground.

Advice: Jallota (25/1 each-way) Non-Runner

            Donncha (12/1 each-way)


15:30 York – Sky Bet Dash

Hoof It won this race back in 2011 but this eight-year-old hasn’t won since the 2011 Stewards Cup. At his peak he was rated 119 but has struggled since then but could run a big race in first time blinkers off this mark of 96. Three of his eight career wins have come here on the Knavesmire too. Also in first time headgear is Grandad’s World. Richard Fahey has applied the hood to his three-year-old, who was second in a sprint for three-year-olds here last month. That has worked out quite well but was on good to soft ground; his best form comes with cut in the ground and he disappointed at Newmarket on quick ground two weeks ago.

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My only selection in this race is See The Sun. Tim Easterby’s runner hasn’t won since June last year here at York but he is off the same mark. He will be ridden prominently and he could get first run on some of his rivals, which could prove decisive. He returned to a bit of form when second to Bushcraft at Newcastle four weeks ago and has only gone up 1lb for that effort. He was sixth in this race last year but those that finished ahead of him have gone onto bigger and better things.

See The Sun to go close for Tim Easterby. Image from

See The Sun to go close for Tim Easterby. Image from

Shore Step has finished seventh on both starts this season but hasn’t been beaten by far. He won two big-field handicaps at Doncaster and Ascot at the end of last season. Draw wise from stall 19 he is on the better side and for me has each-way claims to consider. Three-year-old Encore D’Or has only had six career starts and that could be an advantage over these exposed horses. Off bottom weight from his draw in stall 17 he has to be respected. His only win came on the all-weather back in October but he’s done most of his racing at Newbury and Newmarket, so racing here on a flatter track could prove fruitful.

Mark Walford has had seven runners in the last 14 days with four of them placing. He is knocking on the door and you cannot discount Adam’s Ale. He returned to some form when second to Kimbrella over five furlongs here on his latest start. Three starts ago he was only beaten by a short head at Doncaster over this trip suggesting he could run a big race. However the concern is that most of his best recent form comes with cut in the ground. Gran Canaria Queen is in fine form after winning three of her last four. She won her latest by over two lengths at Pontefract and the handicapper has given her a 9lb rise. This is more competitive than what she’s being winning and her racing style of trying to make all doesn’t suit well with me here. Rachel Richardson is proving herself an able pilot and takes off 5lb but she could be high enough.

Top weight Pipers Note isn’t without a chance but isn’t drawn ideally. Tanzeel is lower than Pipers Note but has shown good form when fourth on his latest start and there could be more to come. Algar Lad prevailed over course and distance two starts ago but is 6lb higher but likes it here at York. Willbeme requires cut in the ground based on recent form and is high enough. She was second off this mark on his last start but this is more difficult.

Advice: See The Sun (12/1 each-way)


15:50 Ascot – King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes

The big Group 1 race of the day where Derby winner Golden Horn is declared however yesterday’s rain has thrown his participation into doubt.

Flintshire has already been withdrawn and with a question mark on the class horse in the race I’ve searched for some value and think I can provide some.

Lets start with the unbeaten Derby, Dante and Eclipse winner Golden Horn. He won his maiden on good to soft but hasn’t encountered anything slower. He’s been impressive every time he’s been seen. In the Eclipse he was given a test by The Grey Gatsby, who looked in control at one stage before being unable to quicken like this Cape Cross colt. As mentioned the ground is the key issue and after running three weeks ago would connections be willing to risk him on this ground instead of going for the International Stakes at York or even an Arc bid where they could get good ground.

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The money horse has been Clever Cookie who is proven on soft ground having won the Group 3 Ormonde Stakes at Chester on similar ground in May and there is previous form from other seasons on slow ground. Looking at the Ormonde Stakes then it is worth recognising Big Orange, who was fifth and has gone on to win the Group 2 Princess Of Wales’s Stakes at the July Festival earlier this month. For me Peter Niven’s seven-year-old is a horse that may lack some speed and this trip will be too much of a test for him. I saw a stat earlier saying the last horse aged five-years-old plus to win this race was Daylami back in 1999, so he has his work cut out carrying top weight.

One of these is improving nicely and has form on this sort of ground. That is The Corsican for David Simcock, who won a handicap on good to soft at Doncaster. However in that race was Arab Dawn, who won the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot in third, while the fourth and sixth have also won since. He followed that up with a win in a Listed race at Goodwood. On his latest start he was fourth in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes over one mile two furlongs during Royal Ascot but he was staying on at the finish. He goes back up in trip having not raced at it since winning his maiden over this distance. It’s fair to say too that he has a beautiful pedigree. In a race where there are so many question marks over his rivals he is definitely worth taking a chance on.

The Corsican ridden by Jim Crowley is steadily improving. Image from PA

The Corsican ridden by Jim Crowley is steadily improving. Image from PA

Snow Sky won his maiden on heavy ground before finishing second to Western Hymn on good to soft ground, so there is some early career form on slow ground. He was impressive when winning the Hardwicke Stakes when Pat Smullen gave him a perfectly judged ride from the front. Today you’d expect the same tactics to be employed and a similar result wouldn’t be a surprise. Eagle Top was in second that day and hasn’t raced on anything slower than good, so his participation may also be in question. He won the Group 2 King Edward VII last year when Snow Sky was fourth. He is lightly raced compared to Sir Michael Stoute’s colt, which could be beneficial.

Madame Chiang is a mud lark in all honesty having won the British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes on heavy ground in October. When she found a good filly she was well-beaten, that was when tenth of 15 in the Oaks at Epsom last year. Coming up against her male counterparts here she is likely to see her struggle despite the ground in her favour. Dylan Mouth has won Italian Group race but as a short price odds-on favourite. At the minute Italian racing isn’t the strongest but he does have form on this ground.

One of the outsiders is Romsdal, which I’m struggling to see why. Here is his record in Group races: third in the Derby, second in the St Leger, second in the Chester Vase, third in the Surprise Stakes and fourth in the Yorkshire Cup. He has two starts on soft ground, placing both times. He has stamina, which considering the ground and usual speed of the race could be advantageous, so at 33/1 in places he could be huge.

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Advice: The Corsican (20/1 each-way: Betway) Non-Runner

            Romsdal (to place 5/1: Ladbrokes)



Tracker Zone

13:30 Ascot

Sixth Sense runs in a four-runner Listed race. He is the most exposed but does have experience on soft ground when he was third at Musselburgh. He has ran at this distance once and that was when he was third in the Chesham Stakes. It’s a race where Platitude or Manaafidh could prove to be very good but don’t have that extra experience plus the ground would be a concern. Based on pedigree you’d expect to be able to handle this ground.


14:05 Ascot

Rah Rah is another for Mark Johnston. She was tenth in the Queen Mary and then placed fifth in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at the July Festival at Newmarket. This is slightly easier and she has experience of this sort of ground after winning at Chester on good to soft. Besharah ran in both of those mentioned races finishing third then second respectively. The only concern again would be the ground. Whatdoiwantthatfor does need to improve on what she’s shown so far but won her maiden on good to soft. She showed a good turn of foot over five furlongs at Windsor and comes from a top yard.


16:40 York

This staying race at York could see Aldreth notch another winner and reverse the Beverley form with Waterclock. Michael Easterby’s horse has had three starts on the flat with form figures reading 112. Since that record began he’s gone from a mark of 56 to 75 however he is still a player in this race. Waterclock and he were first and second at Beverley 11 days ago and the pair came 8l clear of their opposition that day. He’s one that I could see progressing further than some of these. Corona Borealis won at Wetherby 90 days ago and stayed on well to win over 1m5f but this step-up in trip could be too much. Big Thunder drops in class, so has a chance, as does the consistent Gabrial The Duke. With the nine-runners still in Aldreth at 5/1 could offer some each-way value.

Good Luck!


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