Ebor Festival York: Day Three

It was Ladies Day on the Knavesmire and Pleascach returned to form to deny the well-backed Covert Love in the Yorkshire Oaks. It was a game and brave effort from Hugo Palmer’s filly, who attempted to make all only to be passed inside the final 100 yards.

Elsewhere there were two winners for the blog. Tasleet drifted out to 2/1 and then Besharah was put up at 9/2 but was sent off at 11/4. Elsewhere there was a bit of place money with Dark Crusader placing at 9/1 while Dusky Queen closed the day out with a second at 14/1.

The sprinters take centre stage today with the Nunthorpe the feature race where American filly Acapulco will look to build on her Queen Mary win.

13:55 Sky Bet First Race Special Stakes

A competitive 20-runner handicap to start the action over 1m4f and it looks like you may as well use a pin to find the winner.

Pressure Point looks to offer some each-way value in this contest. He’s been a progressive type this season, who seems to have come of age. He won the Archerfield Cup at Musselburgh last time out beating Queens Vase third Future Empire. That was over 1m5f and he kept on strongly in the final furlongs and the drop back to this trip wouldn’t be a concern if he were ridden prominently to use the stamina he showed. For that win he went up by another 5lb and the handicapper may now have started to get a grip on him but he is worth chancing in this open handicap considering he has good from over this course and distance in big-field handicaps.

What About Carlo doesn’t have the most appealing form figures of late but could be back on a workable mark. He is now 1lb lower than when winning at Epsom late June in this sort of company although that was over 1m2f. On pedigree you would say that trip would be the maximum he would get and this will be his first time over this distance and with nothing in the pedigree to hint he’ll stay you are taking the connections word that he will. He will enjoy the ground, as should Top Tug. His finishing position at Goodwood doesn’t show the amount of doors that shut in his face, as Ted Durcan tried to find the gap to make his run. He travelled nicely in that race but was luckless, as he found no clear run when travelling at his best. Back up to this trip should suit and is likely to threaten in a race of this nature.

The staying the trip issue can be raised again by the less exposed Memorial Day, who steps up in class after winning a handicap at Newmarket last time. He’s gone up 6lb for that effort and could possibly have a bit more in him. At Newmarket it could be said he hit the front sooner than he liked but he gamely dug in to seal the win. He is a son of Cape Cross and there is no obvious signs of stamina in his pedigree although his sire’s progeny statistics say he has a strike rate of 15% – his highest at trips of 1m4f-1m5f, so that would give you some hope. Chancery carries a 6lb penalty for a win at Ripon on this sort of ground and he does have course form however I feel he’ll need to find a bit more in this race and it may come too soon after that success.

Others worth mentioning are Penhill, who arguably is best fresh. He won first time up this season at Ascot and has been in some good races since. He as fourth in the Old Newton Cup on this sort of ground at Haydock and then was second to the progressive Hernandoshideaway at Pontefract 16 days ago. He’ll need to find improvement here. One other interesting runner at a price is Emerahldz. She is the only filly in this line up and is versatile on the ground but her best form comes with cut in the ground. She won at Thirsk two starts ago and went up 5lb for that effort. Following a disappointing run over course and distance when last seen she dropped back another 1lb. She would need to improve a bit further but at around 25/1 could again take these colours into the frame.

Advice: Pressure Point (16/1 each-way – Betway) NON-RUNNER


14:30 Lonsdale Cup

A staying race over 2m, which is a Group 2 contest and there are plenty in here who should like these conditions.

I put Trip To Paris up when winning the Ascot Gold up and when third in the Goodwood Cup. In the latter he was carrying a penalty and it was probably the extra weight that he was giving to his rivals that stopped him from quickening like he did at Ascot. Again he carries that penalty and I think he’ll run his race but not for winning purposes. He should be in the frame. The ground won’t be too much of a concern for him after he won the Chester Cup over 2m2f on good to soft ground possibly quite similar to the conditions he’ll encounter.

For winning purposes it would be between Clever Cookie and Tac De Boistron for me. I’m siding with the latter, who has had more time to recover from running in the Ascot Gold Cup on ground, which was unsuitable for him. The return to this ground is a big positive and we should see him back close to his best. He does have form to reverse with Clever Cookie after Peter Niven’s seven-year-old beat him in the Ormonde Stakes but he was giving Clever Cookie 7lb in weight and today they run off level weights. On top of that Tac De Boistron is more proven at this trip when compared to Clever Cookie and in the market gives you better value. With ten set to run you can still back each-way at his current price.

Big Orange is looking to complete the hat-trick and the new tactics under Jamie Spencer have seemed to work well for Michael Bell’s four-year-old. He made all when winning the Group 2 Princess Of Wales Stakes at Newmarket and he followed that up by following similar tactics by winning the Group 2 Goodwood Cup. He’ll be ridden up with the led or close to the pace and when winning at Goodwood showed a likeable attitude with the way he fought and had to dig deep to win the race. As mentioned these new tactics could see him reverse some of the form of the past with Clever Cookie and in August he won the Listed handicap Colossus Chester Stakes on good to soft ground making all again, so that piece of form eases the concern about the ground.

At a bigger price the Willie Mullins runner Max Dynamite could offer even more value. He was second to Quest For More, who heads to the Ebor tomorrow, in the Northumberland Plate. However that doesn’t tell the whole story because he was towards the rear and flew home late on. It was possibly exaggerated as he may have been running on through tired horses but that turn of foot could be something he could use here if not too far off the pace in the closing stages. He last run came in the Galway Hurdle where he was second to Quick Jack, who himself was second in the Chester Cup. He was beaten by over 2l in that race but again was held up in rear before running on strongly to claim second. He’s relatively unexposed on the flat. He’s the most interesting at a bigger price.

Advice: Tac De Boistron (6/1 each-way) – NON-RUNNER

            Max Dynamite (12/1 each-way)


 

15:05 City Of York Stakes

This looks a tricky Listed race to solve and there isn’t too much that jumps off the page. I’ll go straight in with the selection. Fadhayyil has been running in a lot better company than this, so she could have a little too much class for most of her rivals here. Her form speaks for itself with placed efforts in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes at the end of last year plus a second in the Group 3 Jersey Stakes with Bossy Guest in third. I think that form can be confirmed here and she looks a nice price too considering she is getting weight from all of her rivals. Her only effort with cut in the ground came on debut when second to Marsh Hawk, who got the run of the race that day. Paul Hanagan is riding quite well at the minute with a 26% strike rate and hopefully he can continue that here.

Richard Pankhurst is the most interesting runner in the race, as he has only had two starts and won the Listed Chesham Stakes on quick ground at Ascot beating Toscanini by nearly four lengths. Mick Halford’s horse was also behind Fadhayyil and Bossy Guest in the Jersey Stakes, so they could be closely matched. He was held up and travelled nicely under William Buick before quickening smartly to put the race to bed easily. He showed he could be a useful prospect and this son of Raven’s Pass should also handle the ground, so there is quite a bit to like about his chances. However the absence of 426 days may be a little off putting but should be up to the task fresh.

As mentioned above, Bossy Guest was behind Fadhayyil at Royal Ascot and possibly prefers better ground than what he is likely to encounter here. He has strong form in the book too with a third in a Listed race behind Tupi at Newmarket and was second in a Listed race as a juvenile. Mick Channon’s yard is in top form at the moment, so you take note of his runners plus Silvestre De Sousa gets on board. So Beloved won a handicap over a mile at Glorious Goodwood and comes here on a 7lb higher mark. He does have course form after winning here in May beating Alfred Hutchinson, who himself ran a big race in Handicap to finish second behind Chil The Kite. He needs to be respected but slower ground a negative.

Of the rest there is Speculative Bid, who caused chaos at Ascot when not exiting the stalls with Jamie Spencer on his back. He ran 20 days ago at Newmarket and was a strong finishing third. That suggested the mile was a more suitable trip than this 7f distance. Yet saying that if he is ridden closer to the pace he’d be in with more of a chance if he can show the same acceleration in these conditions. He does have a win on heavy ground to his name, so must be considered. Then there is Short Squeeze for Hugo Palmer. He was a well-beaten second in a Listed race at Pontefract over a mile when last seen when the winner Mondialiste slipped the field from the front. Most of his form comes at a mile, so the drop back in trip is quite interesting. If the tactics are use that stamina from the front then he could be difficult to peg back and does have a win with some give in the ground. He’s another worth looking at the market for support.

Advice: Fadhayyil (10/1 each-way)


 

15:40 Nunthorpe Stakes

The Group1 Nunthorpe Stakes will be fast and furious over the 5f trip and Acapulco is all of the rage. Wes Ward’s filly is a big imposing two-year-old and she showed plenty of speed when winning the Queen Mary, which got a boost with Besharah winning the Lowther yesterday. She runs here getting plenty of weight allowances meaning she gets weight from all of her rivals. She’ll be running off 8st and American jockey Irad Ortiz Jr is booked and may be in for a rough time after what happened in the Beverly D with Secret Gesture getting demoted. Anyhow, she has only ran on quick ground, so that would be an unknown. At her current price I couldn’t be backing her in a race of this nature despite what she achieved at Royal Ascot.

I’m taking her on and the value angle for me is with Mattmu. He is a horse that I’ve put up on a number of previous occasions only to see him beaten close home. Those occasions were when Glass Office beat him by a head over 6f here and in the Group 3 Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle when Aeolus caught him. He is usually a 6f horse but is ridden towards the pace and that is something that may see him hold onto a race when hitting the front. I’m not too concerned about the drop in trip as conditions will also be in his favour too. In November he won the Group 2 Criterium De Maisons-Laffitte on ground described as very soft. It’s not that bad at York, it is just more tacky than anything. When last seen he won the Group 3 Phoenix Sprint Stakes at the Curragh where he stayed on well after leading early but fought back to beat Toscanini. With a bit of rain forecast it’ll be in his favour.

Move In Time won the Group 1 Prix De L’Abbaye at Longchamp in October and has been lightly raced this season, so is an interesting contender. For a sprinter he holds his form well and under David O’Meara has risen from winning Class 4 handicaps to Group 1 races and he must come into consideration but may want the ground to dry out a little. He was third to Muthmir in the Group 2 King George Stakes at Goodwood and was staying on in the closing stages to take the third position. If he had been ridden a bit closer to the pace he may have provided more of a challenge. He is a player, as is the aforementioned Muthmir. However I feel the ground is against William Haggas’ gelding. His trainer can do no wrong and has had four winners at York so far and has a chance here to make it five. He won the Prix Du Gros-Chene at Chantilly on good to soft ground but wasn’t entirely convincing despite taking the glory. He is a very classy individual and should get a fast pace to aim at here.

Mecca’s Angel didn’t run at Royal Ascot because of the quick ground. She ran at the Curragh in the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes beaten by a well-judged front running ride by Pat Smullen on Stepper Point. The return to ground with some cut in it is a positive and if she can continue the form she showed when taking two Group 3 races at Newbury and Longchamp. This race provided a shock back in 2010 when a three-year-old Sole Power won the race at 100/1. He was slightly shorter last year at 11/4F. Now a nine-year-old but despite the ground the slight positive is that he is drawn next to Acapulco meaning he’ll have a strong pace to aim at coming from. He may have lost a few gears with his age but it would be a nice story to see him going close.

Plenty more could be worth a mention. Profitable brings some strong form into the race but possibly needs to find something more to win a race of this nature. A strong traveller, who does have course form and may be one to look at, at a price. Take Cover ran a blinder at Goodwood to finish second by a head to Muthmir. He can’t be discounted as Pat Smullen is an excellent judge of speed and he could be the right jockey to be able to get his head in front right on the line, as we’ve seen in the last few weeks in Ireland. He doesn’t run badly and may like this cut in the ground. As mentioned on Wednesday, Paul Midgley’s sprinters are running well and his pair were third and fourth in the Symphony Group Stakes, so don’t discount Line Of Reason, who has course form but the ground may be a concern for him.

Advice: Mattmu (20/1 each-way)


 

16:20 Convivial Maiden Stakes

You’ll know by now I’m not usually one to offer a selection in a maiden race but here one does strike me with some upside. That is Dermot Weld’s Palmetto Dunes, who has ran in two very hot maidens so far. On debut he bumped into Sanus Per Aquam, who has since finished second to Deauville in a Group 3 race at Leopardstown. At Galway he was second to Whiskey Sour on testing ground but those two were well clear of there rivals. Those two runs are the best form coming into this race and if running up to that level then should go close.

Whiskey Sour ridden by Colm O'Donoghue (left) beats Palmetto Dunes (pink cap). Image from the42.ie

Whiskey Sour ridden by Colm O’Donoghue (left) beats Palmetto Dunes (pink cap). Image from the42.ie


Very Talented
was green on debut and looked like he needed that run. Godolphin rate him highly with the entries he holds towards the end of the season. A son of Invincible Spirit but there is a question mark over conditions. Papa Luigi is exposed compared to the rest of these but he does have two seconds with cut in the ground. He stays on well in his races, so is best looked at to probably place again, as his experience could count, especially his good third two starts ago.

Manson ran on well over 6f to take second behind Adventurous at Newbury. He steps up in trip and does have a Dewhurst entry. Trainer Dominic Ffrench Davis doesn’t have too many two-year-olds in training and he could be useful considering he is a half-brother to Jack Hobbs. That debut showed him in a good light where he shaped well and the extra furlong should suit him. Beautiful Morning was fourth on debut to Bint Al Reem, who was last of seven in the Group 3 Sweet Solera Stakes. That maiden form may not be the strongest; the third has won since. Luca Cumani’s filly was doing her best work late, so will have learnt and improved from that run.

Of the newcomers then Constantino needs to be respected. He comes from a yard that has plenty of success first time out and when Tony Hamilton rides them on debut you know they mean business. This colt is related to Amazing Maria, so in time he may want further but could prove a good two-year-old despite making a late debut. Click And Roll was an expensive yearling and is a half-sister to Hootenanny, so could prove to be speedy however starting her at this trip is slightly surprising. Check the market for support behind both of these, as they are the two most interesting of the debutants.

Advice: Palmetto Dunes (5/1 each-way)


16:55 Nationwide Accident Repair Services Stakes

Day three closes with a 20-runner handicap over a mile and I still think Grand Inquisitor can resume the progress he showed. He won his maiden in good fashion on good to soft ground and he followed that up with victory at Sandown where he came from off the pace to take the glory; not something you see too often at that track, so it was a performance worth upgrading. You can forgive him for his last run at Ascot. He was slowly into stride out of the stalls and never got on terms on really testing soft ground. Today’s ground is better than that at Ascot, so if he is able to get back on the right track then he is one at a price, who could go well.

Talyani is an obvious contender. William Haggas’ runners have gone well so far this week and you wouldn’t be surprised if this son of Halling found is way to the winners enclosure too. Three runs on turf and three wins, his only other effort was a third at Chelmsford in a race where there was little change over the trip as Inexorable Tide made all, so you can ignore that run. He looked a useful prospect when eased down to win at Newmarket where Pat Cosgrave kept him close to the pace and then quickened well enough to finish the race early. That win with his win over 1m1f here at York have seen the handicapper take no chances and put him up 12lb. There could be more to come from him and he has won on soft ground.

Rifle Range has gone up 5lb for his win at Ascot in July. It was a race he won by a narrow margin but proved he can dig deep to win a race. He is one of the lesser-exposed horses in this race but saying that the handicapper has given him a mark of 91 from those three starts. He’ll need to continue his improvement here, as this is stronger to what he’s been running. A horse with a similar profile is Master Of Irony. He is slightly bigger in the market than Rifle Range and looks like he’ll improve again here. Ralph Beckett has kept him off the track fro 68 days suggesting he is better when there is cut in the ground, as he has shown with his two efforts at Doncaster. The way he kept on in the soft ground last time suggests he should be ideally suited to these conditions and could go close in a wide-open race. There could be more to come from him, so is one to stay on the right side of.

Hugo Palmer won the first renewal of this race two years ago and Strong Steps may need to show something else to take this. The blinkers are on for the first time in hope to eek out that bit extra. His only win has come on the all-weather at Chelmsford but his recent effort at Goodwood came on this sort of ground and he was third by a narrow margin. If he can run to that level in this grade he could run into a place. Two horses that represent northern trainers are Get Knotted for Michael Dods and Father Bertie for Tim Easterby. Both runners look to enjoy cut in the ground and both run here off a mark of 87. Conditions are in their favour but both may need to find some extra up against lesser-exposed types.

Advice: Grand Inquisitor (12/1 each-way)

            Master Of Irony (11/1 each-way)

Good Luck!

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