The Dante Meeting continues on the Knavesmire in York on Thursday with the headline feature of the week being run when the Dante Stakes itself takes place in the third race of another good looking card. We should get a clearer picture of The Investec Derby from this trial but with a real hotpot in that race we are putting our attention and our money elsewhere.
This will be fast and furious, a 5 furlong Class 2 handicap with a maximum field of 22 spread across the track. There’s pace all over but marginal preference would be for those drawn low.
Cowboy Soldier won on his reappearance and is now 6lbs higher but the 2nd has won since whilst Dark Shot was narrowly beaten in this race 12 months ago but remains inconsistent and was only 2nd last time out off a 4lb lower mark.
Declan Carroll runs 2 in this, with the preference (and the selection) being for Justanotherbottle. He’s a horse that loves a fast pace, the minimum trip, a big field and firm ground; basically, everything he will get here.
He’s drawn 5 here, will race up with the pace and based on his form of last year, he looks handicapped to win here. After winning a pair of 5 furlong handicaps, he was raised to this mark of 101 where he finished 8th of 17 in a Premier Handicap at the Curragh. However, his run can be upgraded as he was drawn widest of all. His next effort was even better where he was 5th of 20 at Ascot but, more interesting, won the race of his side of the track (1st of 10). He proved those efforts were no fluke when, off the same mark again, he was collared on the line to be deprived of a big race success in the Stewards Cup over 6 furlongs. A 4lb higher mark saw him take in a listed race here over 6 furlongs and then the Ayr Gold Cup over the same distance but his no shows in both can be put down to trip on unsuitably soft ground.
Back on fast ground, he’s sure to run is race especially as he’s been returned to that mark of 101 where he ran 3 excellent races in big field handicaps last term. It is his reappearance but he won 2 years back at 25/1 and last year’s reappearance disappointment can be attributed to the ground. Tudhope takes the ride and he’s 2 from 3 on the horse so a big run is on the cards.
Back Justanotherbottle (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 13.00 Coral BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)
17 runners line up for this Class 2 handicap, the Hambelton, over this turning mile at the Knavesmire.
Alan King’s Beringer is the favourite who has started this season in fine fettle, finishing 3rd in the Lincoln and then winning at Newmarket off an unchanged mark. He is, however, up 3lbs so isn’t harshly treated and should run another big race. Mutafani makes his first run in handicap so must be well regarded but the form of Simon Crisford’s stable in slightly offputting. David O’Meara saddles 4, all of them could go well and it looks impossible to pick his best chance.
Bless Him is the selection in this. He won the 29 runner Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot in 2017 but has clearly had problems since then. That win was off a mark off 90 and he’s rated 95 here but today’s mark is the lowest he’s been since that success 2 years ago.
Following Royal Ascot, he was put up to a mark of 100 and put in no shows in a Group 3 and then a handicap on soft ground. He was then a decent 5 lengths 9th in the Royal Hunt Cup where he finished 3rd on his side of the track. He looked poised to strike just over a furlong out before his effort petered out. His last 2 runs of last term were off marks of 98 and 97, the first of which where he was 3rd here but a sluggish start put paid to his chances before pulling hard in the Shergar Cup, again in a race favouring those racing prominent.
Ideal conditions involve fast ground and a big field where he can sit off a fast pace, all of which he should get here. He’s drawn on the inside so could save valuable energy early doors and there should be no issue of getting a run down the long straight given the runners came up the middle. This is his first run after being gelded and provided he proves to be race fit, he will go close.
Back Bless Him (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 15.00 Boylesports BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)
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