After the ups and downs of the Chester May Meeting, where we delivered another profit for the week, the attention turns to the Knavesmire for the three-day Dante Festival, which gets underway on Wednesday afternoon. The three days will give us another guide to the upcoming classics – not least The Oaks and The Derby, and top quality racing is guaranteed. Thankfully the rain is not going to be a factor so we’re hoping another big week. Here is our preview of Wednesday’s ITV4 televised action.
It’s off to the Knavesmire for the Dante meeting where our first bet is in the Class 2 Jorvik Handicap over a mile and a half, with a bigger field than normal (18) aiming to get land this decent prize.
6 of the last 7 winners had already run this season, with 5 of those winning last time out. Add to that, the last 6 winners were all 4 year olds which is unsurprising as typically, a horse that is likely to progress out of handicaps into pattern company is the route to go.
The favourite is actually a 5 year old and that horse is Fujaira Prince from the Roger Varian yard. However, he’s very lightly raced having only had 4 career starts, winning his last 3. This is his toughest assignment to date and there’s a slight doubt about him handling this quick ground.
First Eleven is rated to the hilt, now racing off 104 and hasn’t run this season. He did however run Baghdad to a neck when 3rd at Royal Ascot last summer but that was off a mark of 91. Splitting the pair in that handicap was Corgi who comes here too without a run this season. He’s actually 3lbs better off with First Eleven but he’s had his problems since and it’d take a leap of faith to suggest he’ll win this.
Lurking towards the bottom of the weights is a typical Sir Michael Stoute 4 year old improver in Crystal King. Since being gelded at the back end of the summer after some promising but unspectacular runs in maiden company, he’s won a pair of handicaps. First up was a Class 5 at Leicester on good to soft off 76 and he then followed up on his seasonal reappearance off 83 in a Class 3 on the all weather. He came from off the pace on both those runs, staying on to good effect showing a good attitude in the process. His mark has gone up to 91 but it’s a mark he could easily defy en route to pattern races and the firmish ground, likely fast pace, long straight and flat track should suit the selection.
Back Crystal King (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 8.00 William Hill BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)
Back it here:
22 runners will be spread across the track for this Class 2, 6 furlong sprint handicap, a race which has gone to Northern based trainers in 9 of the last 10 years.
Richard Fahey has a couple near the head of the market, with the current favourite being his Aljady. He won his first 3 races and is still progressing but fitness has to be taken on trust. His other fancied runner Great Prospector may be better on soft ground.
The race that could the key to this is the Pipers Note Handicap, run at Ripon 18 days ago. It was won by Reputation who scooted clear to win by 3 lengths but goes up 8lbs for that run. The 3rd and 4th, Staxton and Intisaab, were both around 4 lengths back and both are down 1lb. However, no winner in the last 10 years has been rated 100 or more so marks of 100 and 104 respectively aren’t ideal.
Instead, a chance is taken on Arecibo who was 9 lengths 9th in that race. That was his first run for an in-form David O’Meara yard (won 2 of the last 4 runnings of this) and he’s now down 3lbs in mark to 97. He didn’t completely settle at Ripon but ran well for a long way, holding every chance at the furlong pole before failing to pick up inside the last, looking like he’d come on a bundle for the run. He was a relatively expensive purchase from France where he ran some good races, including a neck 3rd in a Group 3 last year and he’s clearly well thought of having been entered in a Group 2 over in Ireland next weekend. He’s drawn high in stall 19 which looks ideal given all the pace is drawn high and a chance is taken that he’ll show the required improvement to feature at a big price.
Back Arecibo (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 19.00 Bet365 BOG (¼ odds 1-5)
Rest of York
The first of the other 2 TV races is the 6 furlong Duke Of York where Yafta was considered as a bet. However, he’s too short in the market and his draw in 1 is as far away from his main rivals as could be which puts us off. He is, however, a horse to keep on the right side of this summer. On the other side, Projection is considered but the lack of a recent run is the slight negative.
The Musidora is the last big race on the card and is full of potential improvers that are looking to land this before having a crack at the Oaks in just over 2 weeks time. The market has this about right with John Gosden’s Sparkle Roll and William Haggas’ Frankellina the 2 most likely to fight out the finish.