We start today’s action with the first race on the card from York.
There’s only six runners that line up for the opener and it’s a case of five against one with five of the runners trained locally in Yorkshire and only the Henry Candy trained favourite having to do much travelling.
Despite the advantages of having a horse trained locally I think the home county will come up short.
The biggest threats to the favourite are David O’Meara’s Supreme Occasion and Mark Johnston’s Mythical City.
The latter of the two managed to rack up an impressive hat-trick earlier in the season but was disappointing last time out at when finishing tenth of ten at Newmarket. A tougher campaign than most of its rivals leads me to think it has probably done most, if not all, of it’s winning this season.
I can’t escape the clutches of the market leader Chain Of Daisies. The horse is a worthy favourite with two wins on the bounce at Goodwood and Sandown respectively. The horse takes a step up in class but todays level of opposition doesn’t seem overly robust. The trainer clearly likes the horse and wouldn’t send it all the way from Berkshire just to take part. The horse is relatively lightly raced and has room for improvement and in my mind is the definite one to beat.
Chain Of Daisies (WIN)
We move down to Ascot for the first of four televised races from the royal course.
As with the first race from York there isn’t many runners and considering this is a two year old contest there isn’t an abundance of form to go off either.
With yesterdays down poor the ground is expected to be pretty soft and this has intact helped me make a decision as to which horse to follow here.
The William Haggas favourite Besharah ran a great race behind Illuminate at Newmarket last time out. This was off the back of a decent third placed finish at Royal Ascot. The horse clearly has the best form out of all the runners but judging by its four race starts a softer surface certainly shouldn’t be of any benefit and for that reason, coupled with the short price, I am going to oppose the favourite here.
Rah Rah was a horse I liked when it won at Chester but since being sold to Godolphin it has failed to make any impression.
I am therefore going to side with Richard Hannon’s Whatdoiwantthatfor. This is the only lively contender that has winning form on ground softer than good. Although it wasn’t very testing that day it is the only horse that shows it could act on it and a chance is taken for that to be a very telling factor in where victory will go.
Our second of what is four trips to The Knavesmire sees us take in a seven furlong handicap.
Anyone that knows racing at York knows that any Geoffrey Oldroyd runner has to be respected. Seven year old Alfred Hutchinson represents the yard and has course and distance wins to its name. The horses last success came at York and has been raced here on its last four starts. The horse won well that day but it seems the six pound rise is too much for it to cope with now. Although a good showing wouldn’t be totally out of the question it’s likely to find a handful too good.
There are two horses I would consider to be the “dark horses” of the race. Kevin Ryan’s yard have had some big priced winners over the past fortnight and they could have another here if Salateen can recapture its two year old successes. It’s return to the racecourse this season was less than satisfactory but if it can shake off what may have been a bit of rust then a decent run might not be out of the question.
The other horse I fear may be over priced is Azagal, the Tim Easterby trained four year old has been ultra consistent this year and a return back to seven furlongs will definitely suit.
The horses I am most taken with are the two that represent the stable of David O’Meara. The trainer enters two runners in the form of Alejandro and Mont Ras. If truth be told the only thing that puts me off course and distance winner Alejandro is its price. At a best price of around 5/1 it is far too short. The horse won this contest last year and obviously has to be respected but at such a short price and despite being the favourite I am actually siding with the yards other entry.
Mont Ras may be the oldest horse in the race and despite being top weight it has a great chance. It has won at York before and with eight wins from twenty three turf starts it is pretty consistent. The horse was returning from a long layoff when finishing mid division here last time out but considering it lead for a good proportion of the race a drop to seven furlongs should definitely be beneficial. A decent draw in stall four will also aid its chances and has to have a great opportunity to pick up another success.
Mont Ras (E/W)
The first race we covered from Ascot was a two year old contest, for the second race we cover from the venue it is now a three year old contest.
At the head of affairs is the Sir Alex Ferguson owned Grand Inquisitor. The horse has done nothing wrong in winning its last two starts and with a win over todays trip and a win on good to soft ground to its name it is a worth favourite and definitely the one to beat. I would be far from surprised to see the Sir Michael Stoute runner finish in front but in a race of this nature, where not many can be ruled out, I just have to find a horse with a bigger price.
Two horses that have done well by picking up wins on the all-weather are Pick Your Choice and Rocket Punch. Both were successful on the artificial surface and shouldn’t be readily dismissed but how those wins, at Chelmsford and Kempton respectively, will translate to todays soft conditions will be hard to say but I fear it is unlikely to help either.
Earlier in the season there was a lot of noise for the Irish runner Portage. A decent two year old campaign hasn’t been mirrored in it’s two three year old races so far but the horse was heavily backed last time out and clearly connections think highly enough of their credentials. If it can recapture its previous form it should have a great chance but too much is taken on trust and I don’t know how likely a return to form truly is.
I’m going for an each way selection and as with the previous race from Ascot a Richard Hannon runner. Mutasayyid won on its seasonal reappearance when winning at Newmarket. The horse has won here before and also likes todays trip. The horse isn’t likely to want the ground overly soft but a decent third placed finish when on softer ground wasn’t too disappointing and if it can handle conditions could sneak into a place.
This is the only group race from York today which comes in the form of the Group 2 York Stakes.
Two horses head the betting with locally trained Custom Cut and French raider Prince Gibraltar.
I can understand why course winner Custom Cut should be near the forefront price wise with group success to its name but the French four year old, that is yet to win since May of last year, doesn’t strike me as an all that obvious a selection. Although you have to take into consideration that trainer Jean C Rouget wouldn’t send a horse all that way without a decent chance I just haven’t seen the horse show anything in its more recent races that’d suggest it is up to this level of opposition and is more than likely to return home empty handed.
The aforementioned Custom Cut has a great chance but is so hard to time in terms of a decent run, I’m very positive that it’ll finish in the top three today but at 11/4 is way too short to be backed in regards to how certain I’d be that it wins.
If you followed one of our selections yesterday you’ll know that Brian Ellsion has his yard in tip top shape and Top Notch Tonto comes here off the back of a decent win here last time. The horse isn’t guaranteed to like the step up in trip and really needs cut in the ground. The five year old has some what of a cult following and although many would want to see the horse do well it looks like too big a task.
A horse that looks a big threat to my selection is Kelinni. As mentioned earlier Kevin Ryan is doing well and a second placed finish in The John Smiths Cup looks decent enough form. I couldn’t be positive that the horse would win but at around 16/1 it could be a good shout for place money.
With eight runners scheduled to go to post I’m looking for a bit of value and I think I may have found it in the form of Tha’ir. Saeed bin Suroor has a 24% strike rate over the last fourteen days and look to bag another win with this five year old. The horse is in fine form with two wins and a second placed effort in its last three runs. It will need to have improved to feature in this but I don’t see that being to far beyond the realms of possibility and at a decent each way price it could go close.
Here come the cavalry will be the cry for the penultimate race from Ascot as a whopping twenty nine runners are scheduled for The International Stakes.
This seven furlong contest seems a mine field to decipher and with horses I have backed previously lining up it is becoming increasingly difficult to narrow them down.
Speculative Bid has had a blistering four year old season and ticks an absolute tonne of boxes. It has a course and distance win to its name, is very consistent, has room to progress at the age of four and even has a win on very soft ground. I genuinely can’t find a reason not to back the horse other than its price. Jamie Spencer gets on marvellously when in the saddle and has ridden the horse five times, winning four of those races. If there weren’t as many runners I’d consider it an absolute certainty to be placed but I find myself looking elsewhere. Wether I will live to regret it will only be seen once the race has been run.
Heavens Guest is another course and distance winner who ran well to finish third at Newmarket last time out and is another runner that should handle the softer conditions better than most. That being said however the horse is pretty inconstant where by it tends to run well and then run poorly and is unfortunately avoided today.
Bushcraft has been somewhat of a revelation with a hat-trick of successes from its last three outings. The Ed Walker trained four year old is improving leaps and bounds and it certainly wouldn’t be a great shock if it were to complete a four timer. I do fear however that this may just be a tad too much of a step up and with no decent form on softer ground to its name is another runner that couldn’t be trusted to bring success.
Due to the huge field I’m plumping for two picks in this. The first of which is trained by George Baker and is ridden by William Buick. Belgian Bill has never had Buick in the saddle before but with a course win to its name and a decent third placed finish over course and distance on softer ground to its record previously it may surprise a few people and run better than expected.
My final selection for the race is currently priced at around 40/1. Despite the horses advancing years at the age of eight it is easy to forget that it has won over course and distance and has won on soft ground as well. Third and second placed finishes in its last two starts shows it still retains a decent level of ability and Don’t Call Me certainly has enough left to cause an upset.
Belgian Bill (E/W)
Don’t Call Me (E/W)
Our final race from York and penultimate live action comes in the form of a twenty runner sprint.
A case can be made for a plethora of these entrants and with ten of them gaining course and distance success previously many will have conditions to suit.
One of these ten that should have a great chance is Willbeme. The seven year old is saddled by the lesser known trainer Neville Bycroft who has rejuvenated the horse this season. It has come ever so close without winning and is pretty unlucky not to have notched up a success already this year. My slight doubt is that despite not winning its handicap mark has continued to rise and a step up to six furlongs doesn’t necessarily seem to be what the horse is crying out for.
The other course and distance winners that should have a good chance are Lexis Hero and Bogart. The Richard Fahey runner may be hitting the later stages of its career at seven but showed it still retains its ability when winning at Chester earlier in the year. A subsequent second placed finish at Newcastle was a decent level of form but its level of inconsistency doesn’t help with the prospect of backing the horse.
Bogart comes from an in-form stable and ran a nice race when finishing third of sixteen here last time. Despite a course and distance win to its name it has showed better form over the minimum trip so six furlongs may not help the horse reach optimum performance.
With so many runners going to post I’m plumping for two selections in this one. Both picks are young at the age of four and both raced in the same race last time out.
Tanzeel was mightily unlucky not to do better than its fourth placed finish but considering that was its seasonal reappearance it was a very decent effort. The horse should improve leaps and bounds for that run and the firmer surface should be of benefit for this lightly raced runner.
The other of my two selections actually finished ahead of Tanzeel on its last start and unlike Tanzeel, See The Sun has a previous course and distance win to its name. The PJ McDonald ridden horse is one that I earmarked to watch out for this year and finished sixth in this race last year. The horse was beaten by Muthmir that day and that now reads like pretty decent form. The Tim Easterby runner now races off seven pounds lower than last season and should have a great chance over a course and distance it has a 50% strike rate at.
See The Sun (E/W)
The showpiece race of the day sees nine line up for this years renewal of the Group 1, King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
The big question we have to answer in this is wether or not the star of the show and this years wonder horse Golden Horn will act on the soft going. With the horses price continuing to drift it seems that punters don’t think John Gosden’s three year old will take to the surface.
It is a very tough question to answer and one that we won’t truly know the answer of until the race is run but one other question I think worth noting is which of its rivals will actually handle the surface?
Of the main protagonists only Clever Cookie and Snow Sky have wins on soft or heavy going and the time Snow Sky won on a surface like this it was in only its third ever race.
Clever Cookie will relish conditions but a drop back down to todays trip isn’t guaranteed to be of benefit and is very open to younger and more classier types today.
Snow Sky has done nothing wrong with the two wins it has had this year. The four year old certainly seems to have progressed and is likely to be Golden Horn’s main danger. The trainer hasn’t had the best of seasons though and despite, as mentioned before, a win on heavy ground I actually don’t think cut in the ground benefits the horse a great deal.
I started this race preview asking wether or not Golden Horn will act on this surface, I sincerely hope it does and it will make the current price look like an absolute steel if it were to romp home but I just can’t be so sure. I would love to see the horse win but with such a question mark to answer I’m left looking for a horse that could provide a decent place chance.
Madame Chiang has only ever graced a course on six occasions. It has won a Group 1 race over course and distance and all three of its wins have come on soft or heavy going. Considering the horse is priced at 20/1 that looks very generous indeed. She can be forgiven its seasonal reappearance at York as she should improve for the run. I know that she will need to improve to beat the favourite but even if she places at such an attractive price it’d bring in a bigger sum for a second or third placed finish.
Madame Chiang (E/W)
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