Posted Tuesday 6.00pm
Eyes down for a full house. The York Ebor four day Festival is very much my summer Cheltenham. The form is in the book, quality everywhere you look, fiendishly difficult handicaps and even the youngsters have had a couple of days at school. Love it! Like its Cotswold cousin the Knavesmire has its idiosyncrasies. Personally I like my selections ridden just behind the pace, I like a low draw on the straight course and I’m always keen to have a jockey on board that might have a Plan B, if not C and D! They don’t give you races at York!
I think the two feature races on Day 1 2017 are really difficult with just too many unknowns, so I’ll profile those two races first then move onto Wednesdays Lucky 15 and Wednesdays Star* bets. Finally I will add any profiles I’ve done but haven’t put up as a bet.
James Pyman rightly pointed out in the Racing Post last Friday, “Its York, anything can happen!”
York 3.00 Great Voltigeur Stakes G2 12F 3yo colts & geldings
Big race for Frankel. He sired half the field and two of his four highest rated progeny, Cracksman and Mirage Dancer, take on each other here and they head the market. This will only be Cracksman’s fifth career start and the last two have seen him finish third in the Epsom Derby and second in the Irish Derby. Indeed in those races all three horses he was beaten by were trained by Aiden O’Brien and although Coolmore saddle another three here I can’t see any of them troubling the favourite. However his half-brother Mirage Dancer is a different kettle of fish. Typically Sir Michael Stoute has played the long game and this is only his fourth start. Stoute said: “We’re just leaving nice gaps between his races. He is progressive. We like the horse and he keeps improving. This would be as far as he would ever want to go.” I make Mirage Dancer the play at the prices and surely at worse it will be only money lent until next season!
Khalidi was sired by High Chapparrel otherwise it is three Galileo colts versus four of Frankels! Atty Persse has yet to prove himself in Group company and this is a big ask but Andrew Balding’s Count Octave is very much on my St.Leger short-list, for which this race used to be THE major trial. He got within a neck of Stradivarius in the G2 14F Queens Vase at Royal Ascot but I’m not sure he’ll have enough speed here and just want to see him staying on. Khalidi has won at Listed level and his Group race seconds to the ill-fated Permian and Crystal Ocean earn his right to run and he will be an informative yardstick.
York 3.35 Juddmonte International G1 10F
Fantastic line up but a mine field of a race. Who leads? This race could be won by the jockey as much as the horse. I want to take the 3yo’s colts on. I am not convinced Churchill’s form adds up to a lot and I don’t think Barney Roy is as good as Richard Hannon does! Shutter Speed is quality but she isn’t Enable! Either Decorated Knight or My Dream Boat would constitute a surprise but not a shock. Recent money suggests Cliffs of Moher is a player not a pacemaker and Eclipse winner Ulysses needs something to aim at, which brings me back to “where is the pace”? The informed opinion is that Seamie Heffernan will make it on Cliffs of Moher, I have a hunch that Ryan Moore might try to dictate affairs but if anyone gets a soft lead they will be hard to pass at York! Saw this on Twitter this morning, “Mind really does boggle as to why Godolphin never learn their lesson and have a pacemaker present for Barney Roy. StopwatchRacing @StopwatchRacing ”. Food for thought? Toscanini is only just up the road!
Wednesday Lucky 15 (each way if you like?)
York 1.55 EDWARD LEWIS 8/1 general
York 2.25 ZAAKI 18/1 PP 14/1 general
York 4.15 THEYDON GREY 7/1 general
York 4.50 KALAGIA 14/1 general
Wednesday Star* Selections (12 Stars)
York 1.55 EDWARD LEWIS One Star*win @ 8/1 general
York 2.25 ZAAKI One Star* each way @ 18/1 PP 14/1 general
York 2.25 WELLS FARHH GO One Star*win @ 16/1 general
York 3.00 MIRAGE DANCER One Star*win @ 11/2 Ladbrokes 5/1 general
York 4.15 THEYDON GREY Two Star**win @ 7/1 general
York 4.15 MY REWARD One Star*win @ 14/1 PP 12/1 WH
York 4.50 KALAGIA One Star* each way @ 14/1 general
York 4.50 AREEN FAISAL One Star* each way @ 11/1 WH 10/1 general
and here’s why
York 1.55 EDWARD LEWIS Real poser to kick us off! Twenty runners, odd trip of 5½F and 9/1 the field! Planned putting this one up a few days ago and it looks like he could go off Favourite now! Fifth in the Epsom Dash, a close sixth in the Wokingham, drawn on the wrong side in the Stewards Cup, he’s been knocking on the door and with the low draw I was looking for and Daniel Tudhope booked, O’Meara saddles another three, still looks the most likely winner to me! There are some very fast horses lining up here such as El Astronaute, Thesme, Amomentofmadness and I just hope the closers can get to them!
York 2.25 ZAAKI I have four of these in the Notebook and I’m backing the two biggest prices! The other two are profiled below. Heres what my notebook says “The other eye catcher for me in the G3 7F Superlative Stakes at HQ was the fifth Zaaki, the only maiden in the field, as he was second to the G2 July stakes sixth Enjezaat on debut, who ran on well and being out of a Sadlers Well mare should get further. He was only two and a quarter lengths behind Gustav Klimt, who is currently officially rated OR109 and no bigger than 8/1 for next years 2000 Guineas. The second Nebo was an excellent second to Barraquero in the G2 Richmond Stakes at Goodwood. That’s solid form.
His dad is the Brazilian sire Leroidesanimaux. No I’ve never heard of him either but he sired Animal Kingdom no less! Zaaki is trained by Mohamed Moubarak who has returned to Newmarket after twenty five years in the US but he has one hell of a CV.”
York 2.25 WELLS FARHH GO Here’s what my notebook says, “(Tim Easterby) No prizes for guessing the sire and out of a Galileo mare and he couldn’t have been more impressive on debut. On a foul evening on the Knavesmire in a C3 7F maiden he settled well albeit out the back but when asked from 2F out he powered home to comfortably pick up the 2/1F Laugh a Minute. The time was nothing special, Topspeed 43, and the form is yet to be franked but connections have picked up a bargain at just £16K and as he was sent off at 16/1 probably surprised connections although I see they have given him an entry in the G2 Royal Lodge Stakes. File under “Could Be Anything”! “
York 4.15 THEYDON GREY My initial thoughts on looking at the entries were “Last four runs at York, won last three, 12F 14F & 16F. Goes well for Georgia Cox.” Was on my list of Haggas Ebor Festival possibles and being drawn in stall 10 is fine, just 8st 6lbs on his back and 7/1 available I see no reason to change my mind.
Plenty in this race have been around a while and many of them have lines of excellent form but the handicapper has most of them in check.
York 4.15 MY REWARD Ninth in this last year beaten six lengths by Oceane off a pound more. So how can he turn that around? Well the Tim Easterby yard is in excellent form, nine winners in the past fortnight. He’s drawn lower this year which should give him a better chance of grabbing the rail and the lead as that first sharp bend comes up pretty quickly. Since winning over this trip at Ripon he was just a length and a quarter off the winner when fifth in the Northumberland Plate and a solid fourth in the 14F C2 handicap at the Goodwood Festival to Ebor fancy Soldier in Action. If My Reward leads running to the 2F pole he could be a tough horse to pass.
York 4.50 KALAGIA A low weight, a low draw, winning form, sprinting pedigree and from an in-form stable. That’s what I’m looking for and this young lady fits the bill. Fillies have won the last two runnings of this valuable Nursery and Mark Johnston’s runner is bred to be quick being by Kodiac out of a Whipper mare! Joe Fanning should be able to get her prominent from stall 2 and just like her win at Hamilton make every yard. She hasn’t been stopping over 5F and carrying just 8st 1lb, close to the jockeys minimum, hopefully she’ll see the extra furlong out!
York 4.50 AREEN FAISAL #FantasticMrFahey has won the last two runnings of this race, both times with fillies and both times with getting on for 20lb in hand! No similar profile this year but of his two this one seems the selection. Sheikh Abdullah Almalek Alsabah paid €80K for this Bahamian Bounty colt with the plan being Royal Ascot as a 2yo, he was 15th in the Listed 5F Windsor Castle! He was an eye catcher on Newmarket debut when running on for third at the Craven meeting, made no progress second time, then the Ascot trip and broke his maiden at the fourth attempt when stepping up to 6F winning a C4 Pontefract nursery off OR76. He’s put up four pounds and two grades but could easily have that sort of improvement in him. Would probably have had him as my first choice but that draw in stall 18 and the quicker ground just tempers my enthusiasm.
#FantasticMrFahey’s blog on sportinglife.com “Areen Faisal is a horse who works really well at home and went to Royal Ascot as we felt he was one of our better two-year-olds. However, his performances on the track didn’t live up to what we see at home but he got his head in front the last day. He’s had a break since which will have done him no harm and heads here in good form. He has a chance – providing the draw hasn’t done for him.”
York 2.25 Acomb Stakes G2 7F 2yo colts & geldings
Here are the other two profiles:-
ULSHAW BRIDGE (James Bethell) By High Chapparel out of an Oasis Dream he had already won a C3 6F maiden at York with a strong finish. 7/8F has to be within scope. Tudhope has ridden him in last two races.
A C2 6F Conditions Stakes on Good to Soft at Chester looked a tasty five runner event. Forget Haddaf who has disappointed before, the other four were all previous winners, were improvers and through Dragons Tail are going to get Official Ratings somewhere in the 90’s and that will make them possibles for those valuable 3yo handicap sprints next season. So Prestbury Park beat Regulator a short head with the strong finisher half a length back and the yardstick Dragons Tail OR93 three quarters of a length further back. Regulator got three pounds off the winner and five pounds off the other two. In the race itself Prestbury Park got the rail and set the fractions with Dragons Tail on his quarters and Regulator tucked in and Ulshaw Bridge outpaced. For once there was no cutaway which would have helped Regulator but Hanagan drove him up the inside failing by a short head. Ulshaw Bridge was adrift but flew home from two out whilst Dragons Tail kept on but not as well as the front three.
DEE EX BEE (Mark Johnston) Godolphin home bred by Farhh out of unraced daughter of Seeking the Gold. Won a C2 7F Goodwood maiden when well supported into 5/2JF. Long rangy colt who knew his job on debut making just about every yard and comfortably beat his market rival with four and a half lengths back to the third. The time was good, Topspeed 89, but what did he beat? Well three have run since with two winning which bodes well. After the race Mark Johnston said: “He’s a very good looking horse and had been working well – we don’t tend to bring them down here first time out unless they’ve been working well. He’s a big scopey horse and when you’ve something like that winning at a big meeting like Goodwood you start to dream.”
Big step up to G3 7F Acomb at York. If he wins on the Knavesmire the second and third from Goodwood would have to be looked at, Bethsheba Bay for Richard Hannon and entered at the weekend and Paul Cole’s Capital Flight. The latter was on debut at Goodwood and had a far from trouble free run, no cutaway on the Saturday, but ran on well without getting competitive and he holds an entry in the prestigious C2 7F Convivial maiden at York on Friday.
York 3.05 Great Voltigeur Stakes G2 12F 3yo colts & geldings
ATTY PERSSE Royal Ascot Review – “Kicking myself, wrote in Fridays blog “Wanted desperately to put up Atty Persse but concerned that 3lb claimer, Keiron Shoemark, rides for Godolphin? He’s drawn 22 and as one of the smallest Frankels I’ve seen he could get bashed about and he’s Favourite!” He may not be the biggest in stature but he’s a fighter. Overcoming Stall 22, over racing early on but still enough to repel all comers! Goes up from OR93 to OR102 and wouldn’t be surprised if Frankel’s first Royal Ascot winner was pointed towards the Great Voltiguer at York’s Ebor meeting and a tilt at the St. Leger. (Roger Charlton)”