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Yibir delivers Voltigeur victory for Appleby and Doyle

Yibir bounced back from a disappointing run at Goodwood to land the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes at York.

The Dubawi gelding was the second string for Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby behind Kemari after finishing unplaced in the Gordon Stakes, but came out on top with an emphatic display in this Group Two over a mile and a half.

The Mediterranean, one of three runners for trainer Aidan O’Brien, set the pace and did not give up the lead without a fight but he finally had to give way to Yibir.

The 6-1 shot, who had won the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket’s July meeting, was produced by James Doyle to hit the front in the final furlong and pull away to score by a length and a quarter. The Mediterranean held on for second by half a length from Youth Spirit, who just held Sir Lucan for third spot.

The Mediterranean was cut to 10-1 from 33-1 for the Cazoo St Leger with Betfair. Yibir is not qualified to run at Doncaster as he is a gelding.

Appleby said: “Everyone is asking me if it was a surprise, but the rule of thumb is I try not to run them if I don’t think they’re going to run well. It doesn’t always work out, mind you!

“He’s been such a great work horse and has danced every dance.

“We put him in those (Derby) trials for a reason in the spring – we really fancied him as being a proper mile-and-a-half horse.

“We’ve had our quirks with him – he’s been gelded and we’ve had the hood on and the hood off.

“We were delighted with him on his first start after the gelding operation in the Bahrain Trophy, but he still tended to have a little wander, and then at Goodwood he just latched on and ran his race the wrong way round.

“The plan today was to put the hood on and I told James to bury him, so he can learn to do things the right way round going forward.

“He’s got a lot of potential and it’s just about trying to get him on his right day.

“His constitution is a credit to himself as he’s had plenty of racing and doesn’t miss out in the mornings.”

Yibir is now set to head to America
Yibir is now set to head to America (Nigel French/PA)

On future plans, the trainer added: “It was always the plan after this to hopefully go to America with him for the Jockey Club Stakes at Belmont – a three-year-old race over a mile and a half.

“He’s a gelding now, so he’ll up for a bit of travelling and we’ll have a bit of fun with him.”

The Moulton Paddocks handler also provided an update on plans for his Derby and King George hero Adayar and his Irish Derby-winning stablemate Hurricane Lane.

Hurricane Lane is set to be Appleby's runner in the St Leger
Hurricane Lane is set to be Appleby’s runner in the St Leger (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

He said: “Thankfully we seem to have the strength in depth with the three-year-olds and we’re coming into the autumn now with Adayar and Hurricane Lane.

“They’re both in great order and have had a nice little break since their last starts.

“We’ll head to the Prix Niel with Adayar and the plan is to go straight to the St Leger with Hurricane Lane.”

Andrew Balding is planning to head to Doncaster with Youth Spirit.

He said: “I’m thrilled with that, he seems to stay very well. He’s got the Leger entry and that is probably where we’ll head with him.”

Racing Insights, 18th August 2021

Wednesday's free feature is the Trainer Stats Report (TSR), which is, in fact, four reports in one. It contains information on a trainer’s recent form, and their longer term course form. For each of 14 day, 30 day, course one year, and course five year, users can filter by runs, wins, places, win profit/loss and each way profit/loss. In addition to free access to this report, we also offer the following free races...

  • 3.00 York
  • 3.15 Carlisle
  • 4.00 Bath
  • 5.00 Worcester

We've a Group 2 race in the free list, so it'd be rude to overlook it. Thus we're now going to consider the 3.00 York, which is an 8-runner (possible E/W?) contest for three year olds over a mile and a half. The going is expected to be good and the first prize is a shade over £85k for the race better known as the Voltigeur, whose runners line up as follows...

As you'd expect for a race this, all the runners have won at least once in their last few outings and Kemari comes here on a hat-trick but carries a 3lb penalty. Half of the field ran 20 days ago in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Goodwood, whilst only Scope (102 days) has been off the track for more than nine weeks. We've plenty of positive recent form and/or course form indicators for trainers and jockeys and on weights alone, High Definition looks best off with Scope worst off, carrying the same weight but rated some 18lbs inferior.

As I said above Sir Lucan, Third Realm, Yibir and Youth Spirit all faced each other last time out, filling four of the first six places as follows...

Kemari was a 6 lengths, Class 4 winner over 1m3½f before landing the Gr2 Queens Case at Ascot over 1m6f last time out. The drop back to this 1m4f trip shouldn't be an issue, but he is carrying a 3lbs penalty for that last run/win. York, however, has been a happy hunting ground of late for his yard...

High Definition is best in at the weights based on official ratings and was 2 from 2 as a 2yr old, including a Gr2 win over a mile at the Curragh last September. This season hasn't gone quite so well, but he was still a good third in the Dante here over 1m2½f, but flopped in the Irish Derby last time out. On the basis of his first three runs, he has to have a chance here, but will need to bounce back.

Scope, however, is rated some 18lbs worse and could only manage 3rd of 6 in the Derby trial at Lingfield last time out, beaten by the thick end of seven lengths behind the re-opposing Third Realm and the Derby/King George winner, Adayar. No disgrace in losing to either of those, but this represents a big step up in quality. That said...

Sir Lucan is one of three Aidan O'Brien runners in the race (along with High Definition & The Mediterranean) and he rounded off his 2yo season by landing a 1m Novice race at Cork. He needed the run when beaten by 18 lengths in a Gr3 at Sandown prior to landing a Listed race at Navan over 1m5f and he then franked his improvement with that runner-up finish above at Goodwood. A similar effort would go a long way here and it's hoped that first-time cheekpieces will also help eke out another winner for the O'Brien/Dettori partnership...

The Mediterranean looks the weakest of that O'Brien trio, although he has progressed nicely this season since winning a maiden over this trip at Leopardstown in May. He was only three quarters of a length away when runner-up in the Listed Nijinsky Stakes in June and although only 4th of 6 and beaten by nearly five lengths last time out, that was a heavy ground, Gr2 affair in the King Edward VII at Ascot.

Third Realm only ran once as a 2 yr old, going down by 3 lengths over a mile on polytrack, but since a switch to Turf this season has improved dramatically. A Class 5, 1m3f maiden win was followed by winning the afore-mentioned Derby trial at Lingfield where he beat the subsequent Derby/King George winner Adayar by a length and a quarter. Sadly, he never really got involved in the Derby, but ran a good third in that Goodwood race further up the page. Of interest again here, especially on better ground for an in-form yard...

Yibir was some six lengths further back in that Goodwood race, but he's probably better than that, having raced too keenly early on. He'd arrived there on the back of a 2.5 length success in the Gr3 Bahrain Trophy Stakes at HQ and had got to within half length of Adayar earlier in the season. Much will depend on how relaxed they can get him here, but his handlers know York very well...

Youth Spirit completes the line-up and he showed he has quality by winning the Chester Vase and also by getting to within 2 lengths of the winner in that Goodwood race above. Both of these were Group 3 races either side of a disappointing effort in the Derby. I wouldn't have him down as winning here, but he must have a chance of making the frame and he's backed up by some good trainer/jockey form stats...

After that brief individual overview of their recent history, interspersed with a little personal opinion, let's now take a look at how these eight have performed under Wednesday's expected conditions...

Of course, as 3 yr olds, there's not a lot of past form to go on, but we always prefer to see green rather than red and the two that catch the eye first are Kemari and Third Realm with Scope and High Definition possibly looking weakest of all.

I don't think that 1m4f at York would have a massive draw bias...

...but in the last 24 runnings of this particular race, stalls 2 and 3 are 13 from 47 (27.7% SR) and stalls 5 to 8 are just 10 from 67 (14.9%) suggesting the low draw might have an advantage. This is replicated in the places where those drawn 1 to 3 have made the frame 30 times from 70 runners (42.9%). As for pace, that's not clear cut either. Leaders do well, prominent runners not so much. Mid-division horses also have a good record, but those held up don't...

I suppose it essentially says that if you can't lead, don't chase the leader but also don't be the hold-up type. There's actually very little between the win results for leaders and mid-div runners, but those racing in midfield have a far better place record, so I'd say that was the best place to sit.

The problem here, however, is that they all seem to want to sit in that midfield position...

Kemari did set the pace when winning two starts ago and it might just be that he decides to take the race on, otherwise we're going to have a very falsely run race. This might then play into the hands of horses who have run well from off the pace in the past like Third Realm, Sir Lucan, High Definition and Yibir.

Summary

Kemari is likely to be popular and I've got him at the top end of my own calculations, but the fact he hasn't raced for nine weeks and the extra 3lbs (only 2 of the last 24 winners of this race have won carrying over 9 st) might make him a sitting target if he tries to win it from the front and I've got a marginal preference for Third Realm.

As for the other place, I've an equally tight choice between Sir Lucan and Youth Spirit and I've got them to remain in that order, there's a concern that Youth Spirit might just do too much early on.

Now to look at the market and make a decision : Third Realm is currently available at 13/2, which might prove decent value in the end, so I'll have some of that. Kemari is favourite at around 11/4, so no E/W possibility there and Sir Lucan is also too short for that option at 7/2.

Youth Spirit remains of interest even though I've got him as fourth best. He'd only need one of the others to under-perform and as he's now 3lbs better off than he was in that Goodwood encounter, a 10/1 pricetag here is very tempting as my E/W play.