Tony Calvin picks out a trio of horse to follow on the penultimate day of Ebor Festival action…

“Hopefully first-time cheekpieces will help Reshoun. His trainer is a very respectable five from 30 when adopting this headgear tactic since 2016.”

A pair to play in the opener

I cannot see much mileage in getting Stradivarius and Battaash beaten in the big ones at York on Friday – more of those races in a bit – but I am going to take two against the field in the opening 1m4f handicap at 13:55.

First up is Reshoun at [21.0] or bigger.

He has to put two poor recent efforts behind him, and on the face of it he ran pretty deplorably at Ripon last time. But I watched the video of the race a few times, and maybe he performed a little bit better than it first appears, as his rider accepted the situation quite early in the straight.

The one upside is that he has been dropped 2lb in the weights, and hopefully first-time cheekpieces will help, too. His trainer is a very respectable five from 30 when adopting this headgear tactic since 2016.

The horse is now just 4lb higher than when bolting up at Doncaster on his final start last season for Jim Crowley, who takes the ride again here, and Crowley was also on board when Reshoun shaped very promisingly when sixth at Newmarket on his reappearance, at one stage looking as if he would take a hand in the finish before weakening late on.

York promises to suit, and he is definitely weighted to take a hand if the headgear kicks him back into form.

I never seem to leave a televised York meeting – you know, I meant C4 and ITV – without tipping Erik The Red, so he gets the saver vote at 14/1 each way, five places, with the Betfair Sportsbook. Reshoun could blow out given his recent form, but Erik The Red does look pretty solid, hence the win and place play.

Saying solid, he may well have had an issue earlier in the year as we didn’t see him out until Doncaster earlier this month, where he shaped quite promisingly over 1m2f without cheekpieces (which are back on here).

The handicapper has eased him 1lb in the weights and, of course, he has run a lot of his better races at this track, including when third off a 2lb higher mark in this very contest last season when wearing today’s headgear.

If it hasn’t been a rush to get him here, it will be disappointing if he can’t at least hit the first five.

The absence of Torcedor means that Stradivarius is a justified odds-on poke to net his connections a £1m bonus in the Lonsdale at 14:25 and nothing particularly solid shouts at me from an each-way perspective.

Desert Skyline half-tempted me around the 14/1 mark as his Doncaster Cup win and his third, under a 3lb penalty, to the favourite here in the Yorkshire Cup really do make him the likeliest beneficiary if Stradivarius disappoints.

But his last two runs have been bitterly disappointing, so we can give this race the old “watch and no-bet” cliché line.

I’ll trot that out for the Nunthorpe at 15:35, too, as Battaash will take the world of stopping if he is in the same mood as at Goodwood.

That said, he fluffed his lines here last year, and I am sure many will see his Ascot conqueror, Blue Point, as a virtual each-way bet to nothing at 4/1 or bigger.

It’s a race I can leave alone, though the first-time blinkers for July Cup fifth Sioux Nation are interesting. Aidan O’Brien is 31 from 177 since 2006 with this option and they have always thought the world of this horse. If they can unlock his true potential, then he could outrun his 20/1 odds.

Ana can surprise the Gimcrack field

I normally leave two-year-old races to their own devices too, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Emaraaty Ana is worth a speculative few quid at [13.0] or bigger in the Gimcrack at 15:00.

He obviously needs to improve a lot to take this Group 2 prize but the form horses don’t scare you too much – and there is nothing in here that has clocked a particularly good time either – and the selection travelled like a good horse, and shaped really encouragingly, when third at Newbury last time.

That was his first outing since easily beating the smart Blown By Wind over 5f at Windsor in April, so maybe the run was needed to blow away the cobwebs, as well. He was certainly coming back for more at the finish after hitting a flat spot 1f out.

His pedigree tells you that his future lies over a fair bit further, but hopefully there is an end-to-end gallop – and he made the pace himself when winning at Windsor – which will bring that stamina into play.

He shapes like there is a lot more in the tank anyway, and his stable won this in 2012 and 2013.

I thought Tangled ran better than it looked at Ascot last time and he is worth a second look in the lucky last, but I will stick with the three ITV plays.

Bon chance.

Minimum Bet Guarantee for ALL races at York

Betfair’s ‘minimum bet guarantee’ on all Class 1 and 2 races in the UK and Ireland – which means all customers are able to bet to win a minimum of £500 – has been extended to cover all races at selected meetings this week, including York. T&Cs apply.





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