My 1-2-3 for Wednesday’s Juddmonte International Stakes…
- Roaring Lion
- Poet’s Word
I’ve gone for John Gosden’s Coral-Eclipse winner here as the three-year-olds get a decent weight concession off the older horses and that might be enough at this time of year to give Roaring Lion the edge over King George winner Poet’s Word. The selection comes here fresher than Sir Michael Stoute’s runner which could also be a help. I’ve gone for Benbatl to finish in the places as I was hoping for a big run from the Godolphin owned four-year-old in the Queen Anne, but the drop back to one mile might not have suited on fast ground at Royal Ascot, he has subsequently won a Group One in Germany over a mile and a quarter. That was a softer race than this, but hopefully he can run another decent race and finish in the places for each way punters.
One exciting two-year-old not to be missed at York this week…
I think Space Traveller will have plenty of supporters for local trainer Richard Fahey in Friday’s Gimcrack. Now, there has been plenty of chat about the form of the Aidan O’Brien horses in the UK this summer and it’s no secret that they have had to deal with a virus that has swept through the yard. With that behind them, we’ll probably see the meeting dominated by the Ballydoyle battalion, but I’m taking on the might of Ireland’s record breaking trainer with Fahey’s lovely colt in this six furlong Group Two. The son of Bated Breath takes a leap in grade, but deserves to do so after two unbeaten runs to date. O’Brien’s shortest priced entry is The Irish Rover, but it could be the Andrew Balding trained Shine So Bright that offers the most resistance to my selection.
My single best piece of punting/lifestyle advice for an enjoyable week at York…
Well, I’d advise not to do what I did in 1992 and go to the races rather than pick up your exam results! Joking aside though, you could do worse than follow runners from both the Richard Fahey and William Haggas stables. Both have exceptional records on the Knavesmire. I like Eljayeff in the Nursery Handicap at 4.50 on Wednesday for Fahey. He is a horse on a roll and probably won despite the track at Ripon last time out.
Haggas’ Sea Of Class looks like one of his stronger runners this week, she is favourite for the Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday. She’s an 11/8 shot with Sky Bet, but there is plenty of stable confidence behind her and she comes into this race after winning impressively in the Irish Oaks last month.
Away from those yards, I flagged up Berkshire Blue after his win at the Shergar Cup meeting and he goes again in the Melrose Handicap on Saturday for a stable in red-hot form. Andrew Balding’s strike rate is impressive at the moment and he has booked his talented apprentice Jason Watson for the ride, who helps ease the burden of his rise in the weights for that Ascot win with his apprentice jockeys allowance. He is 10/1 with Sky Bet.
Also, if there is a downpour between now and Saturday, I’d advise an each-way wager on the Jedd O’Keeffe trained Lord Yeats in the Sky Bet Ebor. The horse is full of class, his stable continue in good form and at 25/1 he’s cracking value for a horse that has held his own in decent staying contests and always seems to give his all. Sky Bet are paying five places and providing there is some cut in the ground he is sure to give you a run for your money for his slightly under-the-radar yard.
So, that wasn’t one single piece of advice, but let’s hope it’s decent nonetheless.
Willie Mullins on York plans
A potential storyline I’d love to see unfold on the Knavesmire…
Apart from all my selections winning?
I’d like to see Battaash hack up in the Nunthorpe on Friday. This five furlong Group One is a race I’m very fond of. I grew up as a racing fan watching it at every opportunity on the TV and it was seeing the likes of Dayjur, Sheikh Albadou, Lyric Fantasy, Lochsong and the thrilling dead heat between Ya Malak and Coastal Bluff that really helped get me hooked on our sport.
I feel that sprinters have the same ability as staying chasers to capture your heart and the aforementioned stars helped me fall in love with horse racing.
Battaash has that same ability to get into your head, just as those horses did with me. He has a mix of raw ability combined with quirky flaws and being a fan of his isn’t an easy ride. When the Charlie Hills trained sprinter is good, he is very very good and when he is bad he can be horrid. He boiled over on the Knavesmire last year, where the long lead up from the stables across to the track didn’t help his highly strung mind, but steps are going to be taken to help him combat that this time round.
When a horse like Battaash shows us what he is capable of it is all the more rewarding and I hope he inspires young racing fans the same way his predecessors inspired me.
Battaash is a cut above his Goodwood rivals
Two each-way alternatives to red-hot Sky Bet Ebor favourite Stratum…
I appear to have gone with a theme in this week’s blog, but it’s hard to get away from the recent good form of Andrew Balding’s horses. He has two in Saturday’s Ebor that could offer some value for each-way punters. The first of them is Count Octave, a 20/1 shot with the sponsors. He has faced some stiff tasks this season and was seen to good effect when third in the Queen Alexandra at Royal Ascot on his most recent outing. The drop back in trip should help him. He’s also entered in Friday’s Lonsdale, but faces an uphill climb against Stradivarius in that one.
I don’t know what has gone on with Montaly this season, but at 33/1 I think it’s worth taking a small risk with this horse. This mile and three quarters might not quite be the stamina test that he truly relishes, but he has some smart form, including winning the Lonsdale (2m) at this meeting last year. He hasn’t won a race since and hasn’t even been close to hitting the cross-bar this campaign, but if he can recapture his best form he could run into a place.
He hasn’t run in a handicap since winning the Chester Cup in May of last year and whilst he is still 6lb higher in the ratings than he was for his Roodee triumph, he may be capable of a good show if the ground isn’t too fast.