What a day we had yesterday! The Nunthorpe lived up to expectation with Mecca’s Angel beating Acapulco. Our selection Mattmu finished third at 12/1 from 20/1.
Elsewhere we saw Max Dynamite explode into life and take the Lonsdale Cup. He was put up at 12/1. That was followed by Fadhayyil, who halved in price. I gave her a mention at 10/1 but she went off 5/1JF, but obliged to claim the victory.
There is plenty of racing elsewhere but the main focus is on Ebor day on the Knavesmire.
14:00 Strensall Stakes
This is a really tricky Group 3 race to start the day off with. 14-runners were declared however three have already been taken out reducing the field but it doesn’t make it an easier puzzle to solve.
Mondialiste and Mahsoob are towards the head of the market. Mondialiste was an easy winner of a Listed race at Pontefract where Danny Tudhope was able to dictate from the front. This looks more difficult but it’ll pay to be prominent, so he isn’t without a chance although there are one’s you could argue a stronger case for. He came from France where he had form with cut in the ground and on his first start for David O’Meara finished second to Gabrial in the Lincoln. Mahsoob won a handicap over 1m2f here at York back in May and followed that up by claiming victory in the Listed Wolferton handicap at Royal Ascot. His last effort is forgivable; a Group 2 over 1m4f also looked a bit of a stiff task for him. He drops back in trip to a mile, which is the trip he won his maiden over however he is probably suited by further.
Top Notch Tonto looks the solid option here after a win and second since Brian Ellison put the cheekpieces on this likeable five-year-old; the headgear seems to have worked the oracle. Both of those races were on the Knavesmire and his last effort was arguably a career best. He was second to Tulius over 1m2f on good to firm ground, which isn’t usually his sort of ground. He won a Listed race here in June over a mile beating Gabrial. With three places being offered he is the one I’d be most serious about backing at a fair each-way price.
Convey could offer plenty more and after his maiden win as a juvenile connections kept him off the track until Glorious Goodwood due to a setback. He ran in the Group 3 Thoroughbred Stakes finishing fourth of ten. It was a good run and he possibly didn’t handle the track too well, so the return to a flatter track could play to his strengths. He is still unexposed and this ridgling could have plenty more to offer. GM Hopkins won the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot and that form has been advertised well so far here a York with the third Chil The Kite winning while the fifth Speculative Bid a good second to Fadhayyil yesterday. Frankie Dettori got a fair effort out of him at Newbury the time before that and gets the leg up here for John Gosden. He may need to find a bit more to win at this level but does have a chance, especially with his draw in stall one.
Basem was ahead of GM Hopkins in the Golden Mile at Goodwood and if he hadn’t missed the break he could have gone closer than he did. He’s worth chance at this level and has a good record of four wins from seven starts. However three of those wins have come at Sandown where there is a bias to horses that run prominently. That said on this ground that could be crucial and you wouldn’t be surprised to see James Doyle give him a stalking ride of the leader. His two runs with cut in the ground saw him win and place second, so expect a big run from this brother of Farhh. Mutakayyef is quite an interesting runner returning from a 294-day absence after a fractured splint delayed his comeback. Late last season he put in some good efforts in races at this level but they were over 1m1f and 1m2f. He finished second to Cannock Chase and Berkshire respectively while a third in a Listed race to Air Pilot. All that form looks good in this race but you have to question if he’ll be fully tuned up for his return. He does run for William Haggas, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him hit the frame and his best form comes with cut in the ground. Haggas had previously said he would prefer better ground and is a 1m2f horse, so this trip may prove a little too sharp on his return.
Advice: Top Notch Tonto (7/1 each-way)
14:35 Melrose Stakes
A Class 2 handicap over 1m6f and for me Hernandoshideaway is the main one to concentrate on. He’s raced four times and never been out of the front two. A progressive three-year-old, who looks like this extra distance shouldn’t be a problem. He seems to be one on an upward curve and despite going up 7lb for his success at Pontefract he is the one I’d prefer. His form comes on slower ground and a bit of rain prior to racing would boost his chances. He was well beaten by Not Never at Chester before being able to reverse that form when he was second to Fabricate at Haydock; Not Never fourth. Michael Dods and Paul Mulrennan proved themselves yesterday with Mecca’s Angel tasting success in the Nunthorpe and for me they could have more with this horse today and in the future.
One to have been showing quick progress is Luca Cumani’s Al. He most recently won a Class 5 handicap by 7l at Newmarket under Adam Kirby for which he has gone up 12lb. He will have to overcome that although Cam Hardie takes the ride claiming 3lb and that puts him on a workable mark. His win was in a race that was run to suit and he was able to quicken well inside the final furlong. He’s from a staying family and needs to be respected but he will need more at this level. Not Never has form links with Hernandoshideaway and could bring more progress here. He quickly folded at Haydock to finish fourth but hasn’t been seen since that race 91 days ago. That should freshen him up for his attempt up in trip but he could be one for further down the line as he develops.
Wonder Laish got off the mark at the third time of asking at Lingfield in May but did improve for each run. He is making his handicap debut in quite a hot race and he is one of the harder one’s to judge. Connections had found him a weak maiden to win, which he did with aplomb making all to win by 15l. The handicapper has given him a mark of 87, which for winning a weak maiden looks a little too high. The ground shouldn’t be an issue but his price doesn’t offer much for a bit of the unknown. Sir Michael Stoute hasn’t had a winner at York so far this week but Dannyday gives him a good chance in this race. Two efforts over this trip have seen him win once and place second in the other. He was beaten by Polarisation at Haydock and the Johnston runner had the first and a clearer run through to claim the victory. Here that piece of is likely to be reversed and Dannyday should go close under Oisin Murphy. He seems off a fair mark of 85 and looks to want this trip.
Mark Johnston has a few in this race and Duke Street is the likely pace angle. He’s in a rich vein of form of late with three of his last four wins coming over 2m. He has plenty of miles on the clock so far this season but is ideally suited to this trip. He was able to dictate at Wolverhampton in July when winning at this trip and from stall five you’d expect him to be quick away to set the fractions. As mentioned before it has been hard to come off the pace and he is a type that will just keep galloping, so I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see him make all. His mark has risen to 83 but Johnston’s horses continually improve, so it is hard to rule out further progress from him here. Outspoken is likely to be able to track Duke Street and is another that could go well in this open handicap. Aidan O’Brien’s runner has only had the three starts but won nicely on debut and won well in a small field when last seen at Dundalk. He holds a St Leger entry as do plenty of his stablemates. The first time cheekpieces with Donnacha O’Brien claiming 5lb look to give him a chance.
The one at a bigger price that should give his running is Antiquarium. He didn’t see out the 2m trip in the Queens Vase and was dropped back to this trip for his run two starts ago and finished second to All Talk N No Do but was staying on strongly. He produced another good run to finish behind Dartmouth at Goodwood and this Godolphin charge looks better suited for the stepping back up to this trip. Despite the wide draw to overcome at the start hopefully William Buick can get him across and close to the pace early on. He is the one at a price I do like as he has strong placing chances.
Advice: Hernandoshideaway (8/1 each-way)
Antiquarium (16/1 each-way)
15:10 Gimcrack Stakes
This is a Group 2 6f sprint for colts and geldings. Wesley Ward has an interesting runner in Finnegan, who is stepping up in trip and runs on ground unknown to him. He was meant to run in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot but was forced to miss out due to colic, which is why he hasn’t been seen for 98 days. He won well on quick ground at Pimlico over 5f. Here he has a good draw on the low side (far rail), which is where the best ground looks to be and is likely to be ridden in similar fashion to stablemate Acapulco. He is well related and with him unknown on this ground the 3/1 on offer looks a little skinny.
Preference is for Ajaya, who ran well in defeat over in France when last seen. He was second at Maisons-Laffitte in the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin and was unable to get back up to catch Gutaifan despite his best efforts. In that race he was 2l clear of Areen back in third. That race was on good ground and for me that is the closest and best form compared to the ground at York therefore his price looks a good each-way bet. His win came on this course over the extended 5f trip but he’d have taken some catching that day. The extra distance won’t be an issue, as he is strong in the finish. He wasn’t beaten by far in the Norfolk, only 3l when finishing seventh. His maiden win came with cut in the ground, so that is a further positive. My only slight concern would be with the draw in stall nine but if Graham Gibbons can get him over to the far side early on he could supply William Haggas with another winner.
Ode To Evening won his maiden on similar ground at Ripon, where he had the run of the race and made all. The bar form isn’t great despite it being a big field. He’ll need to improve but is likely to make the running to set a strong gallop for stablemate Buratino. Despite his big price and likely front-runner role he could make a mockery of his odds, as it has paid to be close to the pace so far. Buratino wants quick ground and that is the overriding worry for him here. His last race came on good ground when third to Air Force Blue and Washington DC in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh. Personally I don’t think he’ll be able to quicken like the way he does on fast ground and despite winning a Listed race at Epsom plus the Coventry Stakes he wouldn’t be one to be placing my hard earned on.
A small mention must go to Raucous, who won a Conditions race on soft ground beating Orvar, who was fifth in the Premier Yearling Stakes behind Tasleet. He has only been in small fields and comes into this as a bit of an unknown quantity. He is unexposed and there could be more to come from him. Plus he’ll handle these conditions and is on the right draw.
Advice: Ajaya (5/1 each-way)
The feature race of the whole four-day meeting is this 1m6f heritage handicap and there are plenty of interesting runners. It looks like a cracking renewal too!
Unfortunately due to the going the Northumberland Plate winner Quest For More doesn’t run for Roger Charlton.
There are a few runners that have crossed the Irish Sea and plenty of them have chances, so I’ll start with the one that I like. Quick Jack is a dual-purpose horse you’d love to own. He has never finished outside of the first three in his last 13 races, a mix of flat and hurdle contests. He have to take note when Tony Martin sends runners across and from his two so far this week he has had a winner and a third; this is one I’d be hoping can hit the frame again. In October he was third in the Cesarewitch over 2m2f, so has that extra stamina here and he finished third in the County Hurdle behind Wicklow Brave. He ran a cracking race at Chester to finish second to Trip To Paris in the Chester Cup and we’ve seen that form strengthened by the Ascot win. Most recently he won the Galway Plate beating Max Dynamite, who bolted up in the Lonsdale Cup yesterday (a winner for the blog.) That form now looks good. He will handle this tacky ground and has the extra stamina if it turns into a slog on this tacky ground. Another positive is that he can be ridden prominently, which will suit this ground, as very little has won coming from back to front. A prominent runner is favoured here. He’s rated 148 over hurdles and 101 on the flat showing how good he is.
Clondaw Warrior sneaks into this as a reserve and looks very well handicapped. His prep run saw him win well over 1m4f at Galway on soft ground. That day he had Jack Kennedy claiming 7lb too however he does have Frankie Dettori up after teaming up with Mullins on Max Dynamite yesterday. The ground wouldn’t be too much of a problem, as he seems a more versatile type after he won the Ascot Stakes over 2m4f. He’ll stay but the hold up tactics are a concern on this ground. Fields Of Athenry runs for Aidan O’Brien and has won three of his five starts. He looks a very progressive three-year-old on an upward curve. He’s won his last two when being able to press for the lead, which will suit here, plus he has form on soft ground. Despite the 4lb penalty he is one to look at here and that penalty is offset by Donnacha O’Brien claiming 5lb. His win in a Listed race at Leopardstown was mightily impressive when winning by 10l and dictated from the front. However from stall 22 he may not be in the ideal position early and may be kept wide.
Wicklow Brave is another runner for Willie Mullins and he puts Jack Kennedy to take off 7lb. That puts him onto an attractive mark and Kennedy has proved himself a more than able pilot making plenty of headlines. He showed a turn of foot to win the County Hurdle on softer ground than this however will he be able to do the same here. He has an ideal draw in stall four to be prominent but is known to be slow away. A good fourth in the Queen Alexandra on quick ground but may need to find something more here.
The Old Newton Cup at Haydock saw Mark Johnston’ Notarised and Watersmeet finish in the front two. They both look a little overpriced considering they’ll want to be close to the pace, if not try to dictate from the front on ground which suits them both. Watersmeet is untried over this trip but it has been hard to make ground and he does look a bit of a galloping type, therefore the extra distance might suit while Notarised would need a career best to win this but Silvestre De Sousa knows how to get the best out of this horse. Both might be a little too high in the handicap but with that piece of form are interesting.
The other each-way dart in this race lands with Amanda Perrett’s Astronereus. Again he’s one I’ve put up on a couple of occasions but always runs his race. He’s a progressive four-year-old, who ran well for third at Goodwood off this mark. His previous effort to that was a win over course and distance in the Listed Silver Cup, on slightly better ground, but he was ridden patiently and towards the pace. He travelled strongly throughout and won well in the end, probably worth more than the winning margin suggested. I think there is a race of this nature in him despite the miles on the clock so far this season. I don’t want to sound too bullish but with the majority of bookies paying five places here I think you’ll get some place money back at least.
Advice: Quick Jack (7/1 each-way)
Astronereus (12/1 each-way)
16:20 Roses Stakes
This is a Listed race and it provides the perfect opportunity for Ornate to continue where he left off at Ripon. In a 13-runner maiden he was close to the leaders and despite being keen quickened up when asked and won comfortably by 5l. It was a very classy performance and with the manner of victory there you could suggest this is a penalty kick for him. The second and third have won since while the fifth Rantan won at Redcar before running in the Premier Yearling Stakes finishing towards the rear. The form of the maiden is working out and being kept at this trip looks to be key for now. He holds an entry in the Middle Park and there could be more to come from this son of Bahamian Bounty. The ground shouldn’t be too much of a problem here.
If you don’t like to back horses at that short of price then the one that may offer value is Kurland. Martyn Meade has said she has taken a bit of time to get right but she won impressively on debut at Newmarket. She has since raced in two Group 2 races and finished fourth in the Queen Mary Stakes behind Acapulco, Easton Angel and Besharah, who are a really nice trio of fillies. She went up in trip when finishing seventh of nine in the Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes and two of her Queen Mary rivals were in front of her again and the third Blue Bayou has since won a Group 3 race of her own. This grey is a nice looking type but the only slight concern would be the ground. Kheleyf’s progeny don’t have the best of form with cut in the ground but I feel there is more to come from her and she has some of the strongest form in the race.
Riflescope is an inconsistent type but conditions may be in his favour to make all however James Doyle feels he needs 6f or a stiff 5f. I’d rather be passing on him with the 3lb penalty to carry and unraced on this sort of ground. Rouleau has won twice both over 6f but did run well in the Group 3 Molecamb Stakes to finish third behind Kachy and King Of Rooks. He stays on well in his races but on this sticky ground you have to wonder if he’ll be seen to the same effect here. He needed all of that 6f trip to win at a moderate handicap at Ascot where connections said he “loved the quick ground.” Therefore this going would be a concern.
Advice: Ornate (10/11 Win)
Kurland (10/1 each-way or 9/2 without Ornate – Bet365)
16:55 Jack Berry House Stakes
The penultimate race of the Ebor Festival is a handicap over 1m2f and with Jakey now being a non-runner I think is opens it up for one at a fair price.
Master Of Finance is drawn in stall two and can get out to either make the running or sit prominently. At a double figure price you’d fancy him to hit the frame. He may not be one of the better-handicapped runners in this race however he is fairly consistent and you know what you’re getting with Mark Johnston runners. He most recent effort was a fairly good second to the improving Great Park; he’s gone up 2lb for that effort, so there looks little room for error but this race could suit him and his runs behind Collaboration at Chester, Mahsoob here at York and Elbreth at Epsom look solid enough at this level.
Roseburg hasn’t fully convinced me and the 3lb rise for a second at Doncaster where he had every chance of winning but didn’t manage too. The ground is drying but it still should suit him but his two efforts off this mark previously have seen him finish sixth and eighth. Elhaame now on a career high mark looks slightly vulnerable on this sort of ground. He was a good second to Mount Logan on good to soft ground where he didn’t find too much in the closing stages. With the ground being similar and him on this mark he’s another I wouldn’t be too keen on. Munaaser has form on quick ground but was second on good ground at Newmarket over 1m1f to GM Hopkins where he travelled well on the far side but didn’t really quicken in the closing stages. He’s possibly better over a straight course, as that is where his most recent seconds have come.
Battalion has dropped to a mark of 104 and he could go close back off a workable mark. He was third in the Group 3 St Simon Stakes at Newbury and was also third in the Group 3 September Stakes on the all-weather at Kempton. In November he won a Listed race at Lingfield over this trip before disappointing on his most recent two efforts. He does have form with cut in the ground after winning at Ripon twice and Yarmouth on good to soft, so you’d be hoping for a nice run at a big price. It would be a slight concern that two of his best efforts in recent runs have come on synthetic surfaces but I’d prefer to be backing him than other at shorter prices. Earth Drummer was placed over 1m4f in Meydan and his run at Ascot saw him finish a fair second to Halation. He won at Wolverhampton over the extended 1m1f, so this trip shouldn’t be too much of a concern but the ground leaves a question mark. At his price it again leaves the question if the O’Meara runners are over bet?
Advice: Master Of Finance (10/1 each-way Coral)
17:25 Apprentice Handicap
The final race of the Ebor Festival is an apprentice handicap over 5f but it isn’t something I’d be getting too involved in.
Scent Of Summer has been well backed for William Haggas, who has got Cam Hardie on board here. Two runs on the all-weather over 6f at Wolverhampton didn’t see this filly get off the mark but dropped in trip at Thirsk she ran on strongly to win by a nice margin. You’d think there would be more to come and she is drawn on the right side, so you can see why there is support. Foreign Diplomat looks a sprinting type. Despite getting off the mark over 7f he has fount it difficult over further in handicaps and dropping back to 5f may actually suit. He comes here 3lb out of the handicap but you wouldn’t be surprised to see him go close.
Two against the field here would be Olivia Fallow and Handsome Dude. Firstly Olivia Fallow who comes from the Paul Midgley yard, who is a top trainer of sprinters. His charge won at Thirsk on good ground and has gone up 6lb for that effort but at a double figure price should go close and was second two starts ago to Imtiyaaz on good to soft ground. Joe Doyle takes the ride and he had success on this filly at Chester, just prevailing by a neck to Roudee. Handsome Dude was a winner over course and distance back in October on good to soft ground. His two recent efforts have been at 6f and this drop back in trip should suit. The ground should suit him with is best form coming on slower ground. He’s drawn on the far side, which you would think is a positive. Jack Garritty takes the ride; he had a good day at Sandown yesterday and generally looks a talented jockey.
Thesme would be more interesting on quicker ground and has been running well of late. Rachel Richardson has been proving her worth as an apprentice and rides well, as advertised on Gran Canaria Queen and Captain Dunne. This filly has course and distance form plus a low draw as positives. Imtiyaaz comes here in good form for Roger Varian and has an interesting jockey booking with Irish apprentice Conor Hoban on board. The ground won’t be a problem but has to overcome an 8lb rise for a win at Ripon at the start of the month.
Advice: Olivia Fallow (12/1 each-way)
Handsome Dude (8/1 each-way)