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York Ebor Meeting Day 2 Preview, Tips

The Wonderful York Racecourse

The Wonderful York Racecourse

Day 1 was tough, as showcased by the win of 50/1 Arabian Queen in the 'race of the century'.

Gleneagles' absence and Golden Horn's under-performance, as well as a muddling pace which suited those on the speed, put paid to any chance of the contest matching the hype on a tricky afternoon for punters.

Those who followed yesterday's blog would have got off to a fine start as 33/1 advised (returned 20/1) Caspian Prince won the opener, with the other "poke in the murk", Silvanus, running a game third at 22/1 (having eased from 16's in the early betting - got to love Best Odds Guaranteed).

That was as good as it got. No bet in race two, Tashaar not good enough in race three, TGG beating Time Test but losing to Arabian Queen - as they all did - to sink the 'without' market bet (Criterion not good enough), a non-runner and a well beaten Noble Silk in race five, and Shawaahid closing on the frame but finishing fifth on the wrong side in the last.

If you backed Caspian Prince you'd have covered everything else, but it's nicer to get out in front on the last than to go up early and gradually spit it back, psychologically at least.

[Best not to say too much about the ride on Jinsha Lake...]

To Thursday, and we start with the...

1.55 DBS Premier Yearling Stakes (Class 2, 6f)

Twenty juveniles in a sales race. Here we go again...

In fairness, a reasonable number can probably be discounted, and it was the case on Wednesday that middle to low was a better place to be than high. The ground is a bit of an imponderable as I write (6pm Wednesday evening), and I'm assuming good to soft after some heavy showers forecast this evening.

I'll use the Geegeez Gold pace map to highlight a few things here, in lieu of a deep dive into the fledgling form of these lightly raced (mainly) improvers.

DBS Yearling Pace Map, Speed Ratings and Stuff...

DBS Yearling Pace Map, Speed Ratings and Stuff...

 

I've sorted the field by draw, low to high, as you can see from the green arrow on the left. And I've highlighted a bunch of things in various columns on the right. A couple of quick explanations:

LR/2LR/3LR/4LR is Last Run, 2nd Last Run, 3rd Last Run and 4th Last Run

Scores are 1-4 as follows:

4 - Led; with leader; pressed leader; etc
3 - Prominent; chased leader; etc
2 - Mid-division; midfield; in touch; etc
1 - Held up; in rear; etc

So 16 means a horse led in its last four races, and 4 means a horse was held up in its last four races.

Score is the sum of the last (up to) four runs.

Score% is the sum of the last (up to) four runs, divided by the total of all runners summed scores.

SR is the best speed rating the horse has achieved.

The first thing I'm looking for is an overall 'shape' to the race. It's tougher in a race like this where a) not all horses have run four times, and b) many/most of them don't yet have defined run styles.

Even so, we can draw some loose conclusions from which to work.

First, A Momentofmadness looks set to blaze a trail on the far side (low). Second, there is plenty of early dash sprinkled between traps six and twelve, and it is reasonable to expect at least a couple to push on in that group. It may even be fair to suggest this part of the track will be in front at half way based on the number who want to go forward.

Next, look at the high draws. The short priced favourite, Tasleet, is in 14, and will surely tuck in behind the middle draws. High could be a bit lacking in early pace.

Looking at the speed ratings, there is no outstanding figure, and plenty are evenly matched. Also note that Tasleet has yet to run a fast time. That doesn't mean he can't run a fast time, only that he hasn't yet. What he has done is finish second to Shalaa in a Group 2, something virtually none of these could dream of doing.

From this, I'm interested in the form profiles of the low to middle drawn horses that have already shown good speed. And Tasleet. My form book shortlist then is Delizia, Top Of The Bank, Encantar, Projection, Orvar. And Tasleet.

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Looking at Instant Expert for clues, the obvious thing to note is the sea of grey.

Too many yet to try today's conditions...

Too many yet to try today's conditions...

 

That means a horse has yet to encounter the specific condition, e.g. going.

What we can say from the grid, based on place data rather than win data, is that Mr Lupton has achieved more in the context of this race than most. Specifically, he has been placed in two of his three Class 2 races (he was 3rd of 5 in the other); he was only beaten a length in second in a nursery at this track; and he's run well on one of his three six furlong spins (that close 3rd of 5 was in another).

Perhaps most notably, he was second in a big field sales race earlier this season, proving he can deal with the hustle and bustle. Looking at his form, we can see that all bar his last race have produced subsequent winners at a good clip. (Click the image to view full size).

Decent form, though the sixth furlong is an unknown...

Decent form, though the sixth furlong is an unknown...

I've highlighted the Haydock run in particular because the filly he beat there won the nursery by five lengths on the opening day of the Ebor meeting. Indeed, since finishing second to Mr Lupton, Mayfair Lady has won two races by an aggregate of twelve lengths!

Trainer Richard Fahey has had seven of his 18 runners in the race finish in the first five, including smart winner Wootton Bassett in 2010; so at 16/1 this lad would be as interesting as any, without getting especially carried away, especially with unanswered questions about the ground.

Others whose chance is suggested from the above grid are Lathom, who won the big field sales race in which Mr Lupton was second; and Ferryover, who has to go faster, but after just two starts can do just that. He's already shown he handles a bit of cut in the ground when dead heating over six panels on good to soft.

Orvar is quirky but better treated than most at the weights, and ran a close second on soft last time, having run well behind Shalaa previously; while Tasleet has the better piece of Shalaa form and could well outclass this field, but is opposable at a price below 2/1.

Lathom 11/1 and Mr Lupton 20/1 are sporting options against the favourite, with the images above more to illustrate some Gold tools than to suggest there is a cracking bet in the race. Skybet offer money back as a free bet if your pick is second or third in this race, and they're joint top price about both at time of writing.

*

2.30 Lowther Stakes (Group 2, 6f)

An interesting little race, and the usual convergence of more established Group form and fillies stepping up from maiden wins makes for a searching betting examination.

I've always liked Besharah. More exposed than most of these, she won well on soft ground over this trip last time despite a hard core US pedigree. This will be her trip and, though there may be better unexposed young lasses in opposition, she sets a very solid mark. She's tempting at 9/2.

The market is headed by the unbeaten-in-one Lumiere. By Shamardal, out of a mare who achieved a similar wide margin début win as a juvenile, she's well bred; and a six length demolition on that first start caught the eye. That was on good to firm, and the six subsequent runs from the race have yielded just a single placing. The time was unexciting too, so while she's an obvious improver, she is also avoidable at 6/4.

Easton Angel looked smart when hacking up in soft ground on her first start but has maybe not quite gone on from there. Being by Dark Angel, it is possible she needs some juice in the lawn and that will be the case for the first time since the maiden stroll. However, it is a fair hop from a Musselburgh maiden to a York Group 2. She's popular this evening as I write, and it is easy enough to see why.

A number of others with credible claims, including Ashadihan, who may have improved markedly since last seen two months ago; and five length winner of her sole start, Quiet Reflection, by the prominent second season sire, Showcasing.

From a placepot perspective, I think Besharah and Easton Angel should 'medal' between them, and that might be as close as I get to a bet in the race.

*

3.05 Handicap (Class 2, 1m)

Another score of classy beasts line up for this mile handicap where finding a winner ought to pay for plenty of losers.

You're Fired has a heck of a lot going for him and is as near to an 'obvious' selection in a race like this as you'll get. Second and third in big field handicaps over this course and distance, and in at least this grade, in his last three runs, the niggle is that he's clambered up the ratings as a consequence.

Still, he's only five pounds higher than when second in a Listed track and trip weight-for-ability heat, and as a four year old is likely still improving. He also has plenty of good form on soft and good to soft ground. I'm a bit sick to see he was 14/1 earlier today (Wednesday), which makes it hard to entertain the 8/1 currently available. Mercifully, Pricewise has nominated him, which means if you're up early you might get 12/1 Thursday morning. I'll be trying to stick a couple of pounds on at that price.

Remarkably, David O'Meara has EIGHT runners in this, so he'll be expecting to challenge with at least one of them. That one could be Fort Bastion, for whom the services of Silvestre de Sousa have been employed. He's dangerous off this sort of mark, and ran pretty well at Ascot over a furlong shorter on soft ground last time. The 25/1 is attractive for a couple more quids.

Mange All has run up against some serious Group wolves in handicap sheep's clothing the last few times, and as a Haggas hoss, he's jobbed up again on the Knavesmire. Trouble is, he's a stone higher than his last win, and may just want an eighth further now. Saying that, the rain could play to his strengths: he'd certainly not be a shock winner, but nor is he the best handicapped animal in the field.

On past glories, that would be Penitent, another from the O'Meara phalanx, and a veteran for whom a soft ground mile meant a Group race pay day a couple of years ago. His last win was in a Group 3 in May last year, off 109 and, having been rated as high as 115, he's now pitching from 98. If a few flames still lick the belly of this nine-year-old having his 50th career start, 25/1 with five places might be worth a second glance.

Wide open, and I am unapologetic in taking three off the tee. I'll have any 12/1 I can steal about You're Fired in the morning, and will supplant that with a pair of the Ginger Wizard's octet, Fort Bastion and Penitent, at a pony (25/1) apiece.

*

3.40 Yorkshire Oaks (Group 1, 1m4f)

Eleven high class ladies go to post, nine of them from the Classic generation, for this mile and a half Group 1. Covert Love is a solid and understandable favourite, at around 3/1, after her rapid ascent to the head of her peer group was completed with a convincing win in the Irish Oaks.

She had Jack Naylor and Curvy in the place positions that day, but was most of two lengths too good for the pair. With as much - maybe more - scope as them to get better it is hard to envisage a form reversal unless she doesn't handle the ground. Her pedigree suggests she'll be fine on it and her trainer, Hugo Palmer, is bullish. She looks placepot banker material.

From a win perspective there are others to consider. The peerless Francois Doumen travels Sea Calisi over, his filly having won a Group 2 last time over this range, and a tad unlucky not to be unbeaten in her last three. It is a long way to come for a prep race, so in spite of M. Doumen suggesting this is the start of her autumn campaign and she will come on for it, she must be plenty ready.

A hold up horse, she'll be suited by Lustrous and Outstanding duking it out on the front from the outset. However, that may not transpire and with a lack of obvious pace, the first named might get a soft lead. At 33/1, a soft lead is probably her only hope of holding on into the frame but, of course, the same might have been said about Arabian Queen in the Juddmonte International...

A win for Lady Of Dubai would be depressing, but I have to desert her after an ostensibly poor effort at Goodwood last time. It might have been the rattling fast ground, or she may have been outclassed by some, granted, very smart ladies (3rd was Arabian Queen, fifth was Jazzi Top, Group 2 winner in France earlier this week).

Regular readers will know my contention that Crystal Zvezda's form doesn't stack up to what it seemed at the time, so she's another who can beat me (and probably will!). I respect Jim Bolger and his filly, Pleascach (almost learnt to spell it now), so while she gives the impression ten furlongs might be her trip, if the fractions are steady she'll get home well enough. 7/1 is unexciting, mind.

Looking at the race holistically, it could pay to race handily, and I think COVERT LOVE will do that. There was no fluke about her Irish Oaks win, which completed a highly progressive seasonal four-timer, and she's a fair bet at 3/1 to register a nap hand.

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4.20 Galtres Stakes (Listed, 1m4f)

A Listed race for the same sex over the same distance as the preceding event, the Galtres is a sort of consolation Yorkshire Oaks. It has also been my placepot waterloo on numerous recent occasions.

Regally bred filly, Koora, is an interesting place to start. Out of the dam of Milan no less, and by Pivotal, she ought to handle any ease in the turf, and she ought to be talented. In two runs to date, she has run fast and won well the last day in a ten furlong Doncaster maiden. This extra quarter mile should be okay, though I'd not put my shirt on it.

In contrast to the Group 1, there does appear to be some pace to chase down, which will suit the late running - thus far - style of Koora, and she's tempting at 10/1. So much so that I've backed her, not with my shirt, but rather with just a couple of shirt buttons...

Tony Martin will have been glad of the rain for his strong-staying soft ground-loving mare, Dark Crusader. A winner of the Melrose Handicap at this meeting in 2013, she also won well at Galway last time. Martin had a Galway-York winner on day one, courtesy of Heartbreak City, and he could repeat the dose at around 9/1.

Favourite, Suffused, has a good chance too, with the step up in trip expected to suit. Softer ground is a relative unknown, with the benefit of the doubt given on the basis of a maiden win on good to soft and breeding which offers hope. 9/2 is all right but I'll take my chance with Koora at just better than twice those odds.

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4.55 Fillies' Handicap (Class 2, 7f)

A day for the ladies is completed with a fifteen runner (note, only three places, sigh) fillies' handicap over the dogleg seven furlongs.

Although Dusky Queen has a lot of weight, she has earned it, and she'll have a plum setup - seven softish furlongs at a course she loves. Three wins and two further places from eight Knavesmire spins is impressive, with her seven course and distance outings yielding the striking string of 0113413. Winner of a Listed race two back, she drops in class here and, though she lugs all the weight, she looks set for another sterling effort. 14/1 is on the big side.

Of the two at the head of affairs, I prefer Mistrusting, a filly with upside and already decent form. Only beaten by two horses in four career starts - dual Group 3 winner Malabar and Stewards' Cup winner, Magical Memory - she may prove to be Group class herself. Off a mark of 99 and in receipt of the weight-for-age allowances from her elders, she is expected to run a big race for her in-form yard.

Roger Varian saddles the other short-priced filly, Spangled. Herself on the hat-trick and with just three runs so far to her name, the daughter of Starspangledbanner should improve again.

Marsh Hawk has to prove she's trained on but, if she has, the 18/1 could look massive about last year's Group 1 Fillies' Mile fourth, but she's overlooked on this occasion.

Mistrusting at 7/2 and 14/1 Dusky Queen each way make some appeal for small money.

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It's another difficult card on the 'mire, and I hope the best bet will be Covert Love, a progressive filly with the beating of some of her closest market rivals. 35 minutes later, Koora can run better than a 10/1 shot in the Galtres Stakes.

For those who like to tilt at windmills (me me me!), Fort Bastion and Penitent may outrun 25/1 quotes, while You're Fired ought to run a big race.

Training Decision for Snow Fairy

Snow Fairy, the dual Classic victorious filly, will stay in training as a four-year-old, trainer Ed Dunlop stated on Wednesday.

Snow Fairy

Snow Fairy

Remaining undefeated in three events this season, including her imposing eight length victory in the Irish Oaks on her previous start, Snow Fairy could possibly have her next performance in the Yorkshire Oaks, although whether she lines up or not will greatly depend on the condition of the ground.

Speaking to At The Races, Dunlop said, "She will stay in training next year and make a lovely four-year-old. There are lots of good older fillies and mares in training at the moment so that will be a challenge.

"We haven't sat down and finalised her plans, we want to keep her options open as the ground at York dries very quickly. The fact that she will stay in in training at four means we don't have to go for the Yorkshire Oaks and I am considering the St Leger, I would like to give it a go.

"She's taken both her Oaks races very well, she's in great form and we think she's come on from Epsom and again from Ireland. Ryan [Moore] said she didn't like the ground at the Curragh, which makes what she did even more impressive."

Dunlop, commenting on filly Ouija Board, said, "We are very lucky to have a filly like her, we have fantastic owner/breeders and we tend to get a better quality of filly.

"She won over 6 furlongs at two and not too many Oaks winners show that sort of speed. Although there is stamina on her dam's side, she's by Intikhab, so we never thought she'd stay a mile and a half and that's why she wasn't entered for any of these races."

York Ebor Meeting: My Cash Goes Here…

The Grand Old Duke of York may have had ten thousand men, dear reader, but they were good for nothing by the time he'd marched them up to the top of the hill, and he'd marched them down again. I'll be learning from his military mistake this week as I go looking for some lightly marched (or raced, if you prefer) types to bring home the metaphorical bacon (if you'll pardon the badly blended metaphors).

Yes, as tenuous introductions go, that one's up there with the best of them, but you're probably used to it by now. If not, stick around! 😉

York's four day Ebor meeting starts tomorrow, and there are some great race horses on show; and some great horse races to boot. It will not necessarily be the case that those two statements will go hand in glove as the week unfolds though.

The reason for my somewhat cryptic observation above? Why, tomorrow's Juddmonte International Stakes, one of the features of the week, of course. The brilliant Sea The Stars is due to run, and his presence has scared off pretty much everyone else, with the notable and worthy exception of another awesome 3yo, Mastercraftsman.

The trip looks ideal for the Guineas and Derby winner, and the fact that the O'Brien squad has pacemakers entered will surely only help Sea The Stars stalk and pounce.

In fact the absence of Tartan Bearer leaves just a quartet to go to post, one of which is a hopeless outsider, and another is a secondary 'bunny'. There's £32,000 for finishing 4th in this race, and I wish Obvious had an entry. She'd only have to beat one of the hares home to collect!

Nevertheless, the two at the top of the market may have a decent duel. The 'craftsman has put his 5th place finish behind Sea The Stars firmly out of sight since, with back to back Group 1 wins of his own: first the Irish 2,000 Guineas, and then the St James Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, where he got the better of Delegator in a great tussle. He could relish the extra distance here.

That last race showed he has both class and guts, and it will be interesting to see if he can put the champ under pressure and, if he can, what response there will be.

It's not a race to bet on, and it is only to be hoped that the tiny field produces a true battle between arguably the two best Classic generation horses of 2009 over what looks an optimum trip for both.

So, if that's a race to watch but not to bet on, where's the Geegeez cash going this week?

Well, I think I've found a few worthy of investment in what is - the above contest notwithstanding - a ferociously competitive four-dayer.

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Tuesday: first up, I'm going to the Acomb Stakes, and I'll avail myself of the each way fractions, in order to back Mata Keranjang. This one has yet to win a race, but his form is pretty solid despite that. Finishing third on debut in a Listed contest in France over the minimum trip, Paul Cole's colt improved to comfortably beat all bar Xtension in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last time out.

That latter race was over seven furlongs, and the drop back in trip here should be ideal. If there's any draw bias in the race, the results of recent years suggest it favours high, so 9 of 10 will not be a hindrance, at least.

In a race with the usual depth of unexposed types, it'll not be a maximum job, but I can see Mata K running a spirited race and hopefully breaking his maiden tag in the process.

Also on Tuesday, the St Leger winner is likely to be revealed to us. Unfortunately, the more pertinent question is which horse in the Great Voltigeur field this comment applies to.

It looks a hot renewal, with Goodwood winner Harbinger taken on by 'Sir' Henry's Father Time; John Gosden's Alwaary; and Mark Johnston's Jukebox Jury.

I sided with Harbinger at Goodwood, when he had a lot to find on the formbook, and I'm going to side with him again, despite the fact that he again has to improve to beat the proven level of form others have shown. Sir Michael Stoute is a master at improving stayers through their careers, and he'll know precisely where he is with this one.

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As well as backing him tomorrow, the 11/2 with Ladbrokes looks too big for the last classic. I've supported him for that event too.

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Wednesday's highlight is the richest handicap race to be run in Europe, The Ebor (named after the Roman name for York, Eboratum, as you doubtless knew).

I shall be going racing on Wednesday myself, though - bizarrely perhaps - it will be at Carlisle rather than the Knavesmire, as I'm combining a spot of sport with a bit of business.

No matter, for my eyes will be cast askance to a telly beaming the nags from the more Southerly track.

The Ebor has favoured youngish horses, with a progressive profile and proven stamina in recent years. And it has been no respecter of the market price either, with some tidy payoffs for the more adventurous punter. I'll take a chance with a 20/1 shot, trained by that man, 'Sir' Henry Cecil, in the form of Ajaan.

Ajaan's two runs to date this season have been extremely promising. His seasonal debut was a battling neck second in the Chester Cup. Then last time out he was sent off as favourite for the ultra-competitive Northumberland Plate (not that this is any less combative). He finished 7th of 17 that day, beaten around six lengths.

A repeat of either of those two runs puts him bang in contention here, and - as I say - odds of 20/1 (Hills / Stan James) or thereabouts seem generous to me. Each way a pleasure...

In the preceding Gimcrack Stakes, the juvenile winning machine that is Monsieur Chevalier has a tilt at three quarters of a mile for the first time, having raced exclusively at the minimum trip to date.

The way he cruised through from last to first last time out was highly impressive, and - if he can repeat the feat here - he'll deserve his place as one of the top sprinters of his generation this season.

As ever in 2yo Group races, there's lots of horses ready to improve. But this chap's been there and done it, and it's not beyond the bounds of probability that he may continue to improve for the step up in trip (although the fact that he's raced exclusively at 5f does cast a small shadow of doubt over that).

I've no idea what price he'll be at this stage but, at 5/2 or bigger, I'd probably be a backer.

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The card on Thursday is headed by the Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks. This race again looks to be held hostage to the participation of a single entrant - this time it's the brilliant Sariska who may scare off the competition. There are a mere seven entries at this stage, and come post time it wouldn't surprise me if we were down to four again.

No matter, it's not her fault, and she ought to be way too good for these, albeit probably at money buyer's odds.

David Elsworth's doughty and progressive mare, Barshiba, may claim the silver medal.

In the Group 2 Lowther Stakes for juvenile fillies, Mick Channon has bagged the swag three times in the last decade including two wins for leading owner, Jaber Abdullah. No Channon representative this year, but Abdullah does have a runner, Lady of the Desert.

She's a daughter of 2001 winner Queen's Logic, and has the form to go close. It's beyond doubt that she's been trained specifically for this race, and she looks nailed on to run well (at least as nailed on as any two year old filly can be!).

********

It's a long way to Friday and by then I may be feeling as marched out as a member of the Duke's militia. The Group 1 Nunthorpe is the feature, and - appropriately enough with all these military metaphors - it's a five furlong cavalry charge.

There are plenty of good old sticks in here, none of whom it would surprise me to see come home in front, but all of whom look pretty exposed and fairly beatable.

Kingsgate Native is an exception, and looked back to his best when winning last time out for new trainer Sir Michael Stoute. (Apparently, he's been having, erm, droop problems at stud, and so has had to gallop for a living again - poor chap!)

The Native won this as a juvenile, getting all the allowances, two years ago, and he is one of the likelier sorts for this year's affair.

But it's a horse with a similar profile that I'm going to side with, in the shape of 2yo runner, Radiohead. He gets a whopping nineteen pounds plus from all his rivals here and, whilst that won't speed him up, a weight differential of such magnitude must decelerate some of the oppo.

The form of his facile first (in the Norfolk at Royal Ascot) has been franked since, by the aforementioned French Mister Cavalier (or Monsieur Chevalier, if you'd rather), and the Radiohead is likely to be fully tuned up (or in?) after two months off course. [It's worth noting, lest you didn't know already, that the big sprinters in the States normally have a protracted rest like this prior to major stakes races].

I reckon he'll run a nice race and, in a field with many possibilities (none of them especially robust), he looks the each way play.

Borderlescott was extremely unlucky last time, and could also run into the podium positions. He's finished in the first three in no less than 70% of his 40 turf career starts!

Whichever way your wagers wend this week, let's long for lots and lots of luck.

As the Grand Old Duke had it, when we'll be up we'll be up; and when we'll be down we'll be down. And should we be only half way up, we'll be neither up nor down.

Come Friday, break even may well feel like a reprieve!

Good luck!

Matt

p.s. What's your bet of the week? Add a comment and share a tip. 🙂