There are still two more days of top class racing to go at York during the Ebor meeting, and it may pay to take a good look at Jim Crowley’s rides for Sheikh Hamdan on Friday.
Alfaatik, Enbihaar, Minzaal, Tawleed, Asiaaf and of course Battaash all have genuine winning chances, and I like two of them myself at the prices. There are also a couple of fair bets on Saturday afternoon.
Friday 21st August 2020
1.45 York (Handicap) – ALFAATIK
Friday’s opener is a competitive handicap, at least on paper, however when taking a closer look at the contenders it became clear to me that there are a few who cannot be guaranteed to run up to their mark.
Dark Jedi, Zabeel Champion and Restorer are probably the best of the challengers, but none look particularly well handicapped.
The returning Alfaatik of John Gosden’s yard however was expected to have reached a mark of anywhere between 100 and 110 when he went wrong as a three-year-old, so now he’s been put back together and given how well the yard can prepare them after a break he looks particularly well in now off 94.
2.15 York (Lonsdale Cup – Group 2) – ENBIHAAR
We should hope against hope that this race is run on turf as it looks on paper, as so many of them are of such a broadly similar ability.
Nayef Road, Dashing Willoughby, Eagles By Day and Enbihaar are all potentially very close and if the race is run that way, the mare’s allowance received by the selection should be the deciding factor.
A winner of three Group 2’s this time last year, the five-year-old was back to near her best at Goodwood last time out and there is plenty of hope that she will handle this extra couple of furlongs, especially on a flat track.
Any further drying out overnight would be appreciated and some sun on Friday afternoon would definitely do the trick for Jim Crowley’s mount, so do keep an eye on the weather.
2.45 York (Gimcrack Stakes – Group 2) – YAZAMAN
A decent Gimcrack without being a classic on paper, but one in which the favourite may have been strangely overestimated.
Nowhere else will you read about improvement in horses more than right here, and so ordinarily I would be on board with Minzaal being the rightful favourite after his impressive debut win at Salisbury.
A closer look though reveals that, while he did nothing wrong and he pulled nicely away from his field, that field was decidedly weak and so while a Listed race may have been without his grasp, he perhaps just shouldn’t be favourite for a Group 2 just yet.
One overpriced runner who has a strong place chance is Andrew Balding’s Mystery Smiles, while Youbettabelieveit remains solid enough.
One who’s been worth watching all year though is William Haggas’ Yazaman and he may just have been slightly overlooked here at the odds.
A winner on debut at Yarmouth, he did extremely well at Royal Ascot from completely the wrong side of the track to almost get to Tactical, while the step up in trip at that stage with juice in the ground may not have been to his liking when he was just touched off again by the same horse at Newmarket in the July Stakes.
Finishing second to Supremacy in the Richmond, Yazaman has plenty of Group 2 form already and arguably he could have won more than one of them. He is the strongest proven horse in the line-up by some way and so is overpriced at around 5/1.
Saturday 22nd August 2020
4.10 York (Roses Stakes – Listed Race) – BEN MACDUI
On a flat track such as this, over five furlongs and on a warm day this race should be all about speed and so with that in mind, the one to concentrate on should be Ben Macdui.
Others in the line-up have fairly solid form, including Politics, Acklam Express and Lauded should the latter not take up his engagement in the Gimcrack, however Kevin Ryan’s runner looks a cut above at least at this stage.
A winner on debut at Hamilton, he took a huge step forward and proved that he was all about pace when finishing a fine second to the well-backed Steel Bull in the Group 2 Molecomb Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and there is little reason to think he’ll go backwards here.
Kevin Stott once again takes the ride, a jockey doing particularly well recently, with the hope being that he will sit close to the pace once again before pouncing in the final furlong and a half or so.
4.40 York (Handicap) – CAPE CAVALLI
This is a really good-looking mile-and-a-quarter handicap, one that much like our first covered race on the column looks competitive at a glance but slightly less so when digging into the field a little.
Maydanny was incredibly impressive last time, but an 11lb rise for Mark Johnston’s horse seems a little harsh to be honest.
Fifth Position remains solid in these handicap races but is handicapped more or less correctly for me, while likely favourite Sinjaari is a last time out winner over this course and distance.
The latter has been put up 8lbs, and considering the type of race it was he is sure to have had to put it all in to win that day and so the likelihood of lots of improvement coming now seems less likely than first thought.
The two to concentrate on more are likely to be Sir Michael Stoute’s Derevo and Simon & Ed Crisford’s Cape Cavalli. Derevo is getting there slowly but surely, not unusual for one from this yard, and so while you can be sure he has a race like this in him you couldn’t say with certainty it will be this very event.
Cape Cavalli on the other hand won so well over this course and distance in July it seems certain he’ll put in another performance of note, one that should see him confirm he is better than his mark of 91.