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Two Against The Field At Prices In Live York Handicap

Most trainers, jockeys and bettors will have one eye on Royal Ascot here but there is still some good racing on Saturday and most of the live races look fairly solvable – ahead of a week where there will be many impossible looking puzzles!

This week’s preview is going to focus on the 2.35 at York, an eleven runner 7f handicap at York that will be shown live on ITV4.

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Draw

Not the biggest field so unlikely to be much draw advantage but let’s see.

The win data here slightly favours middle draws, whilst the place percentages and PRB data suggest there is a very slight edge towards those drawn high. A difference of just 0.02 PRB between low draws and high draws suggest there is pretty much nothing in the draw in this field size and it’s pretty evident you can win from anywhere.

Don’t let the draw put you off anything or draw you towards any of the runners in this contest.

Pace

There are some significant pace biases over shorter distances here at York, but what about at 7f?

Once again we see some very fair data for this field size. The win and place percentages both suggest there is a marginal advantage by being slightly closer to the pace but with so little difference it looks a very fair course and distance. The place percentage for front runners in these conditions is 29.31% and the place percentage for hold ups is 28.13% so everything has a very even chance it seems.

Pace Map

With very little natural pace bias here the pace of this individual race should have a much larger bearing on the outcome than the course.

Not a huge amount of pace on here with Dazzling Dan looking most likely to take them along. It’s worth noting that Manigordo has been on the pace in two of his last three runs but he was unable to lead last time against several other front runners. Up in trip and with less pace on here he’ll have no problem getting the lead if he wants it.

National League is tactically flexible and has made the running in the recent past. He was held up last time but that was when slowly away at Chester from stall 8. Expect him to be much closer early on in this.

Ostilio has been a front runner for much of his career but he’s shown no spark in either of his runs this term. It’s difficult to expect anything different from him here but if he was back on his game he is potentially another pace angle.

Whatever happens this will probably be run at an even tempo. The likes of Golden Apollo and Queens Sargent will certainly be hoping the pace setters go off too fast as it will suit their come from behind style.

The Runners

A run through of each horse’s chance, in early odds order.

Dazzling Dan

He’d only previously tried 7f on heavy ground before this season but won comfortably on his first attempt at the trip on fast ground at Yarmouth, albeit only a four runner race, before a respectable 3rd over the trip on good ground at Newmarket, a course where he has historically shown his best form.

He finished his 3yo season rated 104 and after an indifferent 2020 he was given a wind op when rated 90. His Yarmouth win was off 87 and he's back up to 91 here leaving him still well handicapped on his older form. It’s difficult to judge the strength of the form of either of his runs at this trip this season but it is worth noting that he was ridden prominently last time out, as were four of the first five home. He's also not guaranteed to be as good at York as he is at Newmarket.

Gifted Ruler

Lightly raced having had just five starts, two of which came last year as a 3yo. On this first of those he was 9th of 11 at Lingfield, not beaten a great distance and looking as though in need of a stiffer test. He then improved dramatically on that effort back on turf, beaten just a short head in a six runner contest. That form was okay but nothing special. He’s been gelded since.

He’s still got plenty of potential but does need to improve again and he’s seemingly improved for a run in both seasons so far so could need this.

Baashir

Unraced as a 2yo and started last season well with a narrow 2nd on debut (winner gave him 7lbs and rated as high as 91 that season) followed by an easy win on his next start in a weak novice. His form tailed off on his next two starts and he was subsequently gelded.

Started this season in good form again, finishing 2nd to Cryuff Turn at Nottingham. The winner won again two starts later whilst the 3rd was beaten just a nose on his next run so that’s strong form but that race was run over a mile on good to soft ground. Baashir was then dropped back to this 7f on his next start, at Chelmsford and was beaten 4 lengths, not in the same form. It’s not clear if this horse needs easy ground, a mile or is best fresh. It’s possible all three are the case. He’s opposable at 7f on fast ground but would have strong claims if able to repeat the form of his run behind Cryuff Turn.

Manigordo

Won at 25/1 three starts ago when making all over 6f at Thirsk in a race where not much got into it. That effort looked a fluke when he beat just one home at York but that race did come on easier ground and he bounced back to form next time out when 3rd at Hamilton on faster ground. When winning at Thirsk he was reported to have improved for the drop back to 6f but on his latest run he did look worth another crack at 7f, for all he didn’t look particularly well handicapped.

National League

I was quite keen to be with this horse last season and flagged him up at the St Leger meeting when he was 3rd at 25/1. He still hasn’t won since his 2yo days though and has to be considered a disappointment.

His best form has generally come on the all weather or on ground with plenty of dig in it, which is a worry here, but his 2nd at 7f on good to firm at Redcar this season was a good effort as was his 7th in the Spring Cup at Newbury on ground that was just on the fast side of good. He was slowly away last time at Chester and never picked up. The consequence of that has been connections deciding to dispense with the visor. It’s difficult to make a strong case for him, especially for win purposes, but it would be no surprise if he placed.

Golden Apollo

He's run well in some big sprint handicaps here in the past and although he’s done most of his racing at 6f, he has run well on all four attempts at this course and distance despite the fact that records will show he didn’t place in any of them.

He won the Ayr Silver Cup less than two years ago off this mark so isn’t badly handicapped, it’s just a question of his current form. He ended last season with a poor run in the Ayr Silver Cup and then didn’t look competitive on his seasonal debut at Haydock last time out, albeit on pretty testing ground. He has generally improved not only for his come back run each season, but also his second run, so it’s possible next time may be the best time to catch him although he could run well here.

Queen’s Sargent

Seems to have become poorly handicapped since his win in April and has been beaten in all ten handicap starts that have come off a mark of 87 or higher. Only two of those have come over 7f on fast ground though and on both of those occasions he has gone close to placing, beaten 2.25 lengths each time, in much deeper, big field handicaps. He’s probably not quite well handicapped enough to win this but should run well and might not get a better opportunity to win off this mark.

Admirality

One that has potentially been overlooked too much by the bookmakers for this race. I previewed the Haydock race in which he made his seasonal debut and I wrote this about his chances:

A frustrating 7yo who has won just once in eighteen runs for Roger Fell but finished runner up on five occasions in that same period. He’s relatively versatile but is probably at his best over 7f on fast ground, his last nine turf runs on good or better at this distance have yielded form figures of 222133522. He won first time out two seasons ago but seemed to improve for the run last year. No seasonal debutant has even placed from this yard in the past 30 days from twelve runners which is a concern.

He duly ran as though needing the run, competing 1.5f out and getting very tired in the closing stages. A drop back to 6f on soft ground next time was never going to suit so that ran is forgivable too and he finds himself back under ideal conditions, 4lbs better off than he started the season.

He has run well in 2nd on both course and distance starts, finishing runner up to a course specialist on the first of those efforts on ground that was probably slightly softer than ideal before being beaten only by Documenting, a horse that would win a big field Ascot handicap on his next start off a 6lb higher mark.

Admirality is certainly not a horse to trust in a finish, he’s finished runner up five times since he last won, but he should outrun his odds here.

Golden Spear

Won in good style at Chester last month (had previously run well there) but hasn’t been in the same form in two starts since. He’s run some decent races here at York in the past but has been a non runner three times on good to firm in the past and the only time he has been allowed to run on ground this fast he was below form. The chances of him running a career best on fast ground look slim, being declared a non runner looks more likely.

Ostilio

Won the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot as a 3yo and finished that season a Group 2 winner, rated as high as 115. He still won a listed race last season but since moving to Paul Midgely he is yet to beat a rival in three tries, being beaten 47 lengths, 31 lengths and 20 lengths respectively. He’s only been dropped 2lbs since his last run so a sudden revival doesn’t look on the cards.

Troubador

Showed good form here (and elsewhere) as a 2yo and although he ran well on his second start as a 3yo he seemed to run progressively poorer as the season went on last year, being beaten 13 lengths on his only try at 7f (on good to firm), before being beaten 16 lengths here over 6f. He was beaten 10 lengths on his seasonal debut this year and looks best opposed.

The Verdict

I can’t confidently rule out any of the first eight in the betting here, and I don’t fancy any of them particularly strongly to win either! Dazzling Dan is probably the right favourite given he’s run well in these conditions on two recent starts and he seems a bit more consistent than most of these. Baashir looks a better handicapped horse but he’s yet to prove he can go on from his early season runs.

Most interesting at the prices are probably QUEEN'S SARGENT and ADMIRALITY, who both have ideal conditions and both of whom seem pretty consistent when getting these conditions. On a meeting at Thirsk (a course both enjoy) last season there is very little between them on these terms so they could finish close together yet again.

I’m not convinced Queen’s Sargent is quite well enough handicapped to win nor am I convinced Admirality has the bottle to finish better than 2nd. Both are around 10/1 so could be considered each way wagers but the bets I’d be most interested in would be Admirality to finish exactly 2nd (usually available with SkyBet as a minimum on day of race, he can be backed to finish 2nd to the field in forecasts as an alternative) and also a Tote Swinger on the pair. Not a race to get heavily involved in though.