THEY say that you should never listen to trainers or jockeys. That’s probably true, but when a trainer sounds the trumpet about a horse already well and truly on the radar, that has to be a positive rather than a negative.
The filly in question is Richard Fahey’s once-raced two-year-old NICKI’S ANGEL who takes her chance in the Marygate Fillies’ Stakes (2.20pm) at York this afternoon.
She created a really good impression when overcoming greenness to beat subsequent winner Deep Intrigue on similarly quick ground at Musselburgh a few weeks ago.
That marked her down as a two-year-old to keep on the right side of and her stable’s current purple patch is another definite plus.
However, it was the bullish comments from her trainer after saddling another winner on the Knavesmire on Wednesday afternoon that really interested me.
He flagged her up as one of the runners he was most excited about saddling this week and you have to sit up and take notice as he’s not normally so bullish.
Of course, this looks a red-hot contest with the likes of last week’s Chester winner No Lippy and Charlie Appleby’s impressive Newmarket winner Strings Of life all making appeal, but at 4/1 with Coral I’ll take a chance with Nicki’s Angel.
The feature race this afternoon is the Yorkshire Cup (3.30pm) which sees the return of John Gosden’s Stradivarius.
Last season’s Goodwood Cup winner brings the best form to the table, having also gone on to finish third in both the St Leger and the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day at Ascot.
However, that hasn’t been lost on the bookmakers and at around evens I’d rather watch him at this stage even though I think he will win.
There are some traditionally tricky looking York handicaps throughout the card and I’ll be keeping my powder dry until the last.
Mark Johnston’s team are on the verge of hitting top form and he saddles a couple of interesting runners in the finale (5.40pm).
Silvestre De Sousa rides Making Miracles who looks sure to go well, but I like the look of fellow top weight BAGHDAD who looks well-handicapped off a mark of just 80.
He was caught out by a muddling pace at Wolverhampton last month when trying this trip for the first time but looks guaranteed a truly run race this afternoon.
His third place finish last time was actually creditable given the circumstances and he should go very close.
The ITV cameras are also at Newbury this afternoon where they show the really interesting Starlight Brightening Lives Handicap (2.35pm).
Ed Walker is another trainer in great form and he saddles ULTIMATE AVENUE here who returns to the racecourse having had a wind operation and wears a hood for the first time too.
He was a fast-finishing third to Ekhtiyaar over this trip at Newmarket after a break last July and didn’t really go on from that.
His shrewd trainer has given him plenty of time to mature and if it was his wind that was holding him back, he may be lurking on a competitive mark.
The likes of Baron Bolt and Poet’s Vanity are respected, but Ultimate Avenue has the potential to end up challenging for a race like the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot.
Nicki’s Angel 2.20pm York
Baghdad 5.40pm York
Ultimate Avenue 2.35pm Newbury