Posted Wednesday August 29th 6.00pm
The fun part of these Festivals is always the handicaps and those at York are no exception. There is always more form in the book here than at Royal Ascot and York is a much fairer course than Goodwood. I want to concentrate on two handicaps in particular. The 8F 3yo handicap that closes the Friday because many of those taking part have a high enough handicap mark to make them big players in the major handicaps from 7-10F next season when they are those very attractive 4yo’s. I will profile thirteen that took part with a long term view.
The other handicap is of course the Ebor itself. Get the winner in this is a major target of the four days every year and there were lessons to be learnt from the 2017 edition.
I would then like to make some observations about the draw on the Knavesmire.
Next it will be Looking Forward its Tracker Time! A series of prospective winners from the other races except the 3yo handicap covered earlier. I am writing this section deliberately without reading the “eye catchers” from other on-line journalists. I expect they may similar but the following are MY observations.
Finally I have a whole list of “twilight” horses and I would love your opinions on them.
So let’s get cracking.
Friday 4.50 Nationwide Accident Repair Services Handicap 1m, Class 2,
Obviously I love watching this race over and over again as I put up Mojito as my four star**** nap of the meeting who did everything I had written in my review and William Haggas has an improving 3yo on his hands who will surely have a go at Group company before the end of the season. In the race itself Kings Gift has set the solid fractions and kept on strongly with only Mojito and his stable mate Battered, who had come from nearly last, getting past him. The winner had travelled powerfully throughout, if a little keen early on, just behind the pace and quickened going to the furlong pole and put the race to bed. Plenty of others just behind ran perfectly well but it was really only the front three involved in the final furlong.
Before I profile this Bakers Dozen of prospective C2 4yo handicap winners I need to put in some small print! You will need to keep an eye on the upcoming Horses in Training sales as3yo’s rated close to OR100 are very attractive propositions to race in Dubai and the Far East not to mention possible targets for the NH fraternity. So these profiles will be fairly brief and those that get through to April 2018 I will expand upon.
Mojito (William Haggas) Now won three on the bounce and his handicap mark has gone from OR83 to OR104. He has won at 7 & 8F on all types of ground. What next? Well I found a 2016 interview in the Irish Field with the owner. She had Toronado (sold to Al Shaqab), Havana Gold (sold to Qatar Racing) and Ivawood who now stands at Coolmore Stud. Mojito was not cheap at €320K and although the owners are not short of a bob or two, Jersey residents and they have a “small plane”, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see Mojito in new colours once he steps up to Group company. Fiona and Ian Carmichael-Jennings strike me as lucky owners. They also have Wall of Fire and Alba Power (in the 2yo section of Review Part 1) with Hugo Palmer, a gelded colt with Gay Kelleway, Uber Kool, who has won his last two and Signe who has recently moved from Haggas to Jesse Harrington supposedly en route to a visit to Ivawood. The interview mentioned previously revealed “We have got into the breeding side of things now…”.
Battered (William Haggas) Gelded early and owned by the trainers dad. Unless they get offered silly money I think this one will be about next season and having won his maiden at Yarmouth and 7F handicaps at York and Goodwood and as he stayed on well here you could see him being a player off OR98 in the 8F Hambleton handicap back at York, not to mention the likes of the Bunbury Cup and the Gigaset International on a stiff 7F.
Kings Gift (Michael Dods) Stays on OR100 and I would love to see him at Haydock or Chester over 8F, a course that suits a front runner. Remember he was fourth in the G3 Greenham at the start of the season just six lengths behind Barney Roy off levels! Has an entry in the Cambridgeshire but that would be up a furlong and a tough place, HQ, to make all. Could see this one going East.
Medahim (Richard Hannon) Stays on OR100 and two observations on Al Shaqab’s Kodiac colt, firstly it looks like he’s best on quick ground and the AW and secondly the handicapper probably has him on his current mark. Could see him wintering in Qatar and Dubai.
Saturday, 02 September 2017 – 7:50 Chelmsford (AW) Chelmsford City Cup Handicap
City of Joy (Sir Michael Stoute) To put it mildly, he is a bit of a monkey! He’s finished fifth to Mojito at York having walked out of the stalls and giving five lengths or more away. If he got out on terms he’s a player off OR94, he’s already been gelded so that’s not an option! Headgear? I can see this one at the Sales and rocking up next year with David O’Meara or Michael Appleby.
Zymyran (David Simcock) OR85 Interesting horse. Nurlan Bizakov owned and bred (under his Hesmonds Stud banner) but he couldn’t sell him so put him into training with Mr Simcock. Won three out of seven as a 2yo, gelded prior to his 3yo campaign which didn’t seem to be going anywhere so put him in the July Horses in Training sale and he went for £20K to the Khat Partnership who put him in training with, you’ve guessed it, Mr Simcock! On goes the hood and bang he wins a C3 at Newmarket. Then at York behind Mojito he’s been held up right out the back but kept on really well in the straight. Probably best with some give in the ground, in C3 and possibly 10F?
Syphax (Kevin Ryan) Won the G3 Acomb at this meeting last season, promptly bought by Godolphin, but hasn’t really run to that level since, although trainer Kevin Ryan’s yard hasn’t had the healthiest season, closed for six weeks. Syphax was a solid second to Forest Ranger on seasonal debut, unsighted in the G3 10F Dante, last of eight to Beat the Bank in the Listed Sir Henry Cecil stakes at HQ and this looks a more realistic level. At York he was ridden to be prominent from stall 10, led early, headed on home turn, every chance two out, faded. Won the Acomb with a hold up ride which probably suits him best. If he was mine I would geld him, give him a couple of goes on the AW or in Meydan, then have a go at all those Ascot straight 7/8F handicaps under hold up tactics!
Areen Heart (Richard Fahey) OR88 87 At York on his latest start he gave up the outside to nobody and ran the whole turn for home three wide, perhaps not a lot of choice as he was drawn widest in stall 15! Never runs badly and he’s kept some decent company but only won one in eight. I expect to see him in the sale ring as the owner is a glory seeker! If he was mine I would geld him, put him away from the winter, drop into C3 and then try to get into the best 7F handicaps I could especially at Haydock and Chester.
Wahash (Richard Hannon) OR90 98 94 Let’s be honest they haven’t got a clue with this horse. Took seven goes to break his maiden as a 2yo and that was at Lingfield over 8f on the AW and the handicapper put him up eleven pounds to OR90!! Started his 3yo season with a cracking fourth to Middle Kingdom in that C3 10F handicap at the Craven meeting. Since then he’s been all over the place racing on ground from Good to firm to Heavy, from 6F to 10F and finds himself up four pounds courtesy to a second at Epsom in a 7F C2 handicap. Basically the handicapper has him, still.
He was a £150K yearling and as he’s by Dark Angel shouldn’t get a yard over 7F. Would be an ideal Dr. Koukash horse! Geld him, Chester/Epsom 7F, try to get a soft lead off a low draw, then kick two out!
La Rav (Luca Cumani) OR94 Trust me, this is a winner waiting to happen. He’s run a cracker at York behind Mojito as Jamie Spencer told the Stewards, “the colt ran too free and stumbled approaching the line.” Trainer Cumani said on his excellent website, “La Rav gave himself no chance in his race on Friday considering how hard he pulled in the early stages.” Absolutely no surprise to see he has entries over further.
Saturday, 30 September 2017 – 3:35 Newmarket Betfred Cambridgeshire Handicap (Heritage Handicap)
Starlight Romance (Richard Fahey) OR89 She’s had a cracking 3yo campaign and has gone up a stone and is finding life difficult in C2 but once she gets back into C3, 7-8F, any ground she’ll be back in the winners enclosure and one more win could see her have a go at some decent C2 fillies handicaps as a 4yo.
Appointed (Tim Easterby) OR92 91 This daughter of Delegator is probably best in C3 over 10F with a bit of cut in the ground and the handicapper may have her at the moment. In Mojito’s race she travelled then made a promising move 3F out and looked dangerous 2f out but needed to come later.
Horoob (Roger Varian) OR93 90 In his last run at York behind Mojito was always among horses and although keen got a rough trip, travelling two out but didn’t get the gap when he wanted then got into more trouble than Denis the Menace, Jack Mitchell eased him off. Maybe he’s best on the AW or in fields of twelve or less but I would persist with him in these big field C2 8F handicaps, he has the ability.
Saturday 3.55 Betfred Ebor Handicap 1m6f,
Fabulous race but watching live it looked carnage between the 2F and 1F poles and at the time I could see suspensions all over the place and a lengthy Stewards Enquiry! However on replay when Nakeeta comes through he squeezes a few to his left, Flytothestars (who has run a cracker for a 3yo!) makes his own gap but a lot of the trouble is Lord Yeats running out of petrol and falling back into the lap of those behind! Clever Cookie seems to be hanging left all the way up the street and Wild Hacked didn’t get the clearest run and the only horse I can see with a genuine hard luck story is the third, Natural Scenery, who I will cover below in Looking Forward its Tracker Time!
Two points of note on the Ebor. Firstly you needed to be on OR101 to get a run in this year’s event and secondly as pointed out by a senior rails bookmaker to Matt Chapman on ITV, the value of an apprentices claim can be the difference between winning and not!
Finally a horse who missed the cut by two was Blakeney Point, currently on OR97, and one more win should book his ticket for 2018 and as long as Firm isn’t in the going I think he is a major candidate for next years Ebor!
Wiser men than me have said that if the horse is good enough you can win from anywhere. Well for me at York over 5F, 6F & 7F I want to be drawn in a single figure stall, from 8F to 10.5F I want 4-12 and any further I don’t think it makes a blind bit of difference. It’s all about getting the position you want, however it’s worth noting in the 2m handicap, the 14F Melrose and the 14F Ebor the winners all came from way off the pace!
I’m running short of time so I’m going to post this blog now (6pm Wednesday) and put Looking Forward its Tracker Time! and “Twilight” Horses, Stuck in the middle? In a Part III I’ll post tomorrow, Thursday August 30th.