Kicking off todays four races from York we see a ten furlong handicap as the first contest to decipher.
The current market leader Spanish Squeeze heads the betting as Hugo Palmer’s charge hopes the the blinkers that are applied for the first time today can work the oracle and get the horse back to winning ways. The horse has had a very lightly raced campaign due to injuries but the trainer was very bullish as to the horses chances and chose this race as a likely target. Obviously the horse has the potential to be very well treated by the handicapper but I couldn’t take a short price about a horse that’s never won on turf and finished seventh on its last racecourse outing. It may indeed have too much for this level of opposition but a lot would have to be taken on trust.
Another runner that’s closer to the forefront of the betting is Kevin Ryan’s Erik The Red. This ultra consistent four year old returned to action with an impressive second placed finish at Haydock recently. There’s no doubt the horse will improve for that outing and this looks a slightly easier task. The Shane Gray ridden runner was raised two pounds in the handicap but is likely to go close and is the horse that looks the biggest threat to my selection.
As with the two aforementioned horses I’m going with another four year old in the form of Hernandoshideaway. The Michael Dods runner drops back in trip and has better ground than experienced in its last two disappointing performances. These factors should be a positive for the horse that’s tried in a hood for the first time. I hope the application of headgear can bring about a return to form. The form of its sole victory reads well and although I understand this will be a hard task at 20/1 it looks a good value each way selection in what looks an open contest.
Of the remainder a mention has to go to Off Art who may improve for its third placed seasonal reappearance.
We go from one handicap to another but this time we take in a sprint contest where the selection falls to Kevin Ryan’s Bogart. The previous course and distance winner hasn’t been in the best of form recently but now sits at a very attractive mark. It’s easy to forget this seven year old has placed at Group 2 level at York in the past and has beaten some very classy types in its career. It’d be naive of me to think the horse is at the peak of its powers but this race is far from the best it’s contested either. Kevin Ryan was positive about its chances in a recent stable tour and I’m swayed by the trainers confidence.
Kevin Ryan also saddles another course and distance winner in the form of Flaming Spear. A second placed finish on its last appearance was very encouraging and the horse is likely to improve for that run however I feel the trainer isn’t quite sure where to place the horse as it’s been raced over ten furlongs previously. I feel a drop back down to sprinting will be a positive but just how good it’ll fair is tricky to assess and I’d struggle to be confident in backing the favourite.
A horse that may run well at a price is another course and distance winner Highland Acclaim. The horse now sits at its last winning handicap mark and the O’Meara yard are starting to hit a bit of form. The current 18/1 price seems quite generous and although I feel it may find a few too good today it wouldn’t be surprising to see it put in a much better performance.
Another notable mention is to five year old Gamesome, a horse that hails from the yard of trainer Paul Midgley who has to be respected at this meeting and may surprise a few.
Magical Memory is a more than worthy favourite in this Group 2 race after its very impressive victory last time out. The trainer expects big things for his runner this season and it didn’t disappoint at Newmarket last time out. The only negative however is the last three times the horse has finished third they have all been behind Twilight Son who reposes again today. I’m hoping however that the horse has improved since those races and with the advantage of a recent run under its belt unlike Twilight Son then it can finally find itself in front of the Henry Candy runner. This being said however I feel the 5/2 price is perhaps slightly too short and I’ve gone for another each way selection.
As I eluded to in the earlier race David O’Meara’s yard are starting to find their feet and he certainly collects the winners at this meeting. Suedois made his first appearance for the trainer last time out when finishing second in a listed contest. I’m in no doubt that the horse will improve for that run and although it’ll need to step up on its previous efforts this horse has raced at the top table in Group 1 races so clearly the horse has shown a fantastic level of ability in training. I’m hoping the trainer can work its magic on the five year old and can upset some of the main protagonists in this.
A mention also has to go to Mattmu who has contested big race after big race so to know it’s still just a four year old is quite surprising. A third placed finish behind Magical Memory was a decent return to racing this season and a return to York will be a positive however I feel, although it may get closer to the favourite it won’t over turn its previous result and a place is the best it can hope for.
We end todays four live races with a trial for The Oaks where red hot and unbeaten favourite So Mi Dar heads the betting. I could try and elude to or aim to convince you that this race looks competitive but I just cannot see past the favourite and have already backed her for this years Epsom group one contest. No doubt its price will shorten for the big twelve furlong fillies contest with victory here so I’d actually advise you all to back the horse for The Oaks prior to the race. The John Gosden runner hasn’t put a foot wrong in its two race course starts and in what looks a less than vintage renewal of this group three contest I can’t see her being troubled on her way to Epsom.
Of the main rivals you obviously have to respect Ballydoyle’s Best In The World who you’d expect to improve on its fourth placed finish last time out but wether it can improve so much to trouble the favourite I sincerely doubt and minor honours looks to be the order of the day for this Irish raider.
So Mi Dar (WIN)