There is some excellent racing this week as the sport prepares to welcome crowds back next week as we tick towards the Cazoo Derby next month. The pick of the action on Wednesday comes from York where the Dante Meeting gets underway.
The big race of the meeting on Wednesday is the Musidora Stakes but the field is a little skinny and the market centres round the two main protagonists so our betting for the opening day comes in the starter, the Jorvik Handicap.
The opening race of the Dante meeting sees a very good field of handicapper’s go to post for this mile and a half event with 15 runners likely to face the starter. The front 2 in the market both bring top form to the table with Ilaraab from the Haggas yard just clinging onto favouritism having won his last 5 starts including a trio of handicaps. Wins of a neck twice & ¾ of a length suggest he might be reaching the peak of his mark having gone up 18lbs but that said, he’s still not fully exposed. Similar comments could be made about Sir Michael Stoute’s My Frankel who has won 3 of his last 4, raised 7lbs for a win last time up on the all weather, beating one of today’s rivals Taqareer by almost 2 lengths. Taqareer is not weighted to turn the tables on My Frankel but Throne Hall is weighted to get the better of Ilaraab as he’s 8lbs better off for a neck. My concern with Throne Hall is that he disappointed last time out when going off at short odds & is up 1lb despite being beaten. He’s also the most likely to make the running so may prove vulnerable to those coming from behind down the long straight.
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I’m taking 2 against the field, the first being Sam Cooke who had an indifferent campaign last year but comes here with excellent claims. In 2019, he won his only start in fine style & was touted as a handicapper to follow last year. Form figures of 5203 don’t necessarily inspire but you need to look a bit deeper. He went off favourite for the Bet365 Trophy but made his challenge up the middle of the track, drifting towards the far side whilst the winner came up the near rail. A trip of 1 mile 6 furlongs was probably stretching his stamina limit too. Next time up, he got beat in a head bobbing fashion at Ascot, the pair coming well clear of 3rd before being made favourite for another big race, the November handicap. Drawn very wide, he was ridden far too aggressively on terrible ground & was never getting home. I’m happy to put that failure down to a poor ride before a foray on the all weather was promising but he got blocked off more than once & was a little unbalanced entering the straight. Any horse that goes off favourite for 2 big handicaps, runs well on 3 of his 4 most recent starts, has always run well first time up & still looks well handicapped should not be going off at almost double figure odds so he’s a relatively confident first bet.
From the foot of the weights, I cannot leave Mr Carpenter out of the final reckoning. He’s up in class but has won 2 handicaps in the last 12 months, both over this track when making eyecatching headway from the back of the field to land 11 & 19 runner races. He still looks attractively handicapped & has proved this mark isn’t beyond him when 3rd at Haydock off this mark when not getting the fast pace to aim at & a slightly troublesome run. He’s also had 1 run this year, on the all weather at Newcastle, when he was slowly into stride but finished well just over 2 lengths behind the winner. A return to this track will suit, the good to soft ground is in his favour & being one of few that look capable of their current mark, he’s another who should be finishing to good effect at a nice each way price.
PLACED – Back Sam Cooke (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 9.50 Skybet BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)
Back Mr Carpenter (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 11.00 Skybet BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)