With York’s fantastic Ebor Festival still going strong, we take in racing on both Friday and Saturday this week although given the prices we cannot possibly play in the Lonsdale Cup, suffice it to say that it would be brilliant for Stradivarius to do what Enable did on Thursday and get the job done at odds-on.
We are on a couple at the Knavesmire though and during Saturday’s excellent global action there are a number of good value bets to be had across a variety of tracks.
Friday 23rd August 2019
3.00 York (Gimcrack Stakes – Group 2) – THREAT
Richard Hannon’s colt is the obvious choice based on the formbook, but usually there is something in the profile of rivals to give us some encouragement but in this case, unless the son of Footstepsinthesand fails for any reason, they look to have far too big a hill to climb to get to him.
Despite the Hannon yard being tried and tested themselves at the top level, you can’t help but feel that had Threat been trained by John Gosden or Aidan O’Brien he’d be an even-money shot here, so at prices up to 2/1 he simply looks too big to ignore.
Having made an impressive debut Threat followed it up with a very good second in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot before going down narrowly again in the Richmond, but now he’s on a less quirky track we may see even more improvement from him which probably leaves the likes of Dubai Station, Pistoletto and Spartan Fighter with too much to do.
3.35 York (Nunthorpe Stakes – Group 1) – BATTAASH
This is a most intriguing Group 1, a five-furlong dash worth £400,000 and betting wise it appears to come down to Battaash, Ten Sovereigns and Mabs Cross.
Based on history as well as recent form, it remains possible that Ten Sovereigns could reach the very top of the sprinting game after stepping back in trip to great effect when winning the July Cup at Newmarket. Aidan O’Brien pulled the same trick with Mozart and Stravinsky who both scored at HQ before taking this race and this son of No Nay Never has been priced up accordingly to repeat the feat.
Excellent mare Mabs Cross comes from a stable in great form, especially with sprinters, and as a Group 1 winner in her own right has to be considered.
Battaash on the other hand, as much of an enigma as he is, remains the fastest thing in the world on four legs and despite two past failures here there is no logical reason why he should dislike York as a venue.
He’s more mature now, so over this flat five furlongs we should see the Battaash that was rated 127 after winning the King George Stakes last year and that would be good enough to win this.
Saturday 24th August 2019
3.00 York (City of York Stakes – Group 2) – EQTIDAAR
Laurens will be all the rage here but I think she has it to do in these race conditions, while Speak In Colours and Shine So Bright are solid and have to be considered.
Eqtidaar though, a Group 1 Commonwealth Cup winner who has admittedly been disappointing since, has had a wind op and been freshened-up before returning.
Not only does Sir Michael Stoute improve horses plenty over time, but Sheikh Hamdan does not keep a talented colt in training all this time who could have gone to the breeding sheds unless they think there is more success to come on the turf and given time we should see more big performances from this son of Invincible Spirit who is overpriced.
3.50 Goodwood (March Stakes – Group 3) – MANUELA DE VEGA
This is a small field, but a good-looking one and while usually we’d be all over a John Gosden filly thrown into a pattern race, his Promissory really does have to reach a whole new level to take a hand here.
Sir Ron Priestley of Mark Johnston’s yard of course has to be considered and is, but Ralph Beckett’s Oaks fourth Manuela De Vega is the clear best of this field at the weights for me with the 1¾-mile trip looking right up her street. She can take this before going back into Group 1 company, perhaps even in the St Leger at Doncaster over this distance in September.
6.20 Windsor (August Stakes – Listed Race) – WALDSTERN
John Gosden may fear the three-year-olds in the upcoming Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for his superstar mare Enable given the generous weight allowance they receive, but it’s something that he could use to his advantage here with Waldstern the beneficiary.
The visored gelding is a son of Sea The Stars and so while he didn’t perform too well over a rather extreme trip recently, he has continued to progress nicely at a mile-and-a-quarter and should take this extra furlong-and-a-half very well around Windsor.
Big Country, Crowned Eagle and with potentially more to come Lucius Tiberius are all very close ability wise and it could even be a lottery as to which of them is the most likely to challenge the selection.
10.44 Saratoga (Travers Stakes – Grade 1) – TACITUS
This is the best three-year-old race in the States bar the Kentucky Derby, and even without the presence of Game Winner or Maximum Security it’s a race that could produce the age group’s best challenger to the likes of McKinzie and Thunder Snow in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Tacitus has done incredibly well in Grade 1 races this year without winning, but we have to bear in mind that as a large framed horse he has more improvement in him than his rivals and he has blown the start a few times and yet still gone close.
He wears blinkers for the first time, which he wore in his work this week, which should see him sharpen up and we could see a big performance. Main rivals would seem to be Mucho Gusto, Code Of Honor and Tax.