It’s the start of York’s Ebor Festival on Wednesday and I will be there on Thursday and Friday. Fingers crossed the weather forecasters have got it right and it's dry later in the week.
This week’s column looks back at Saturday's action and forward to York. You can find all this plus Monday's selection inside.
Growl Bounces Back
Ripon held its most valuable days racing of the season on Saturday, with the feature race being the Great St Wilfrid Handicap.
The width of the track separated Growl and Hyperfocus at the finish of the Great St Wilfrid consolation race. At the start, the runners split in to two groups. The larger group went far side and at halfway it looked like that group had the edge. However, in the final 50yds, Hyperfocus was running on empty and Growl nabbed the race in the shadow of the post.
It Pays to be Prominent In Ripon Sprints
As is often the case, in sprint handicaps at Ripon, it was important to get a forward position with those ridden to the fore dominating. Not many got into the race from behind, with Royal Brave, who finished sixth, doing best of the ridden towards the back.
Airglow, likes soft ground and there is surely a sprint handicap in the 4-year-old before the season is out
Growl, was without a win since November 2016. However, there was no doubting he'd dropped back down to a winnable mark if all the cards fell right.
It’s Gold For Dods
The Great St Wilfrid Handicap was also won by a horse ridden prominently. Dakota Gold who had finished runner-up in last years race went one better, when making all for a decisive win. The 5-year-old, a winner at York on his previous start is clearly in great form. The handicapper will probably make life difficult for him but if there’s juice in the ground he should remain competitive.
The consistent Summerghand ran well again but had to settle for second. It this was another good performance from the 4-year-old who now finished 5th in the Wokingham and 4th in the Goodwood Stewards Cup. However, he keeps edging up the handicap for all these good efforts and the handicapper will nudge him up again for this run.
Prospector Deserves Another Chance
Great Prospector, was well backed, with the drop back to a strongly run 6f expected to suit the 4-year-old but he disappointed and was well beaten at the finish. Maybe the ground was too soft for him or he just didn’t handle the track. A return to a more galloping track can see him do better.
A race like this should normally provide a few horses for the notebook but the winner was well in command at the finish and apart from Great Prospector. I couldn't find anything worth noting.
Doyle’s Glorious Journey
Recent Goodwood winner Sir Dancealot was bidding for back to back wins in Saturday's Hungerford Stakes. However, soft ground didn’t play to his strengths and he could only finish 4th behind winner Glorious Journey.
The winner was subject to strong support in the morning of the race, with the soft ground and a return to 7f expected to suit the 4-year-old and so it proved.
James Doyle always had the winner in a good position, tracking early leader Donjuan Triumphant. That one couldn’t give him a lead long enough and the gelding probably found himself in the lead a bit earlier than the jockey wanted. Still he found plenty for pressure, to hold off Librisa Breeze and favourite Safe Voyage inside the final furlong.
Librisa Breezes Back to Form
Safe Voyage, probably wasn’t suited to the early pace of the race and his early keenness didn’t help his finishing effort. Librisa Breeze was returning from a 280-day layoff. He travelled powerfully through the race, but a lack of race fitness probably told.
Connections will have been delighted with the 7-year-old’s performance. As he tends to be at his best in the autumn and as long as there’s plenty of ease in the ground. He can remain competitive at this level.
Trends Boost York Betting Bank
In last Monday’s column I had mentioned that runners dropping from Group 1 company were 4 winners from 12 runners +14.75 7 placed in the Hungerford Stakes. Well Glorious Journey’s win was a 5th win for the class droppers.
I had tipped up the winner for Victor Value subscribers on the Saturday morning, when he was 9/1, so it was a pleasing success.
All in all, it was a good weekend on the betting front with Blue De Vega also winning for us on Friday evening and advised at double figure price too.
York Ebor Festival Pointers
I have spent the last few days looking at the York stats and trends and I’m expecting a good week, if the weather remains settled.
Here are a couple of pointers for you:
Low Drawn And Prominent Runners Dominate 5f Handicaps
Looking at the 5 & 5 ½ f handicap races. Low drawn horses have performed better than those drawn higher and those drawn low, who led or raced prominently have produced 6 winners from 43 runners +36 20 placed and performed 70% better than market expectations.
And for those of you who like your trainer stats.
Andrew Balding has had five winners at the Ebor Festival since 2014. All five of his winners were 3-year-old + and all of them had finished first on one of their last three starts, producing 5 winners from 12 runners 42% +40 A/E 4 6 placed 50%.
For those of you looking for York Ebor Festival selections, you can join me here.
4:30 –Three of Our Charlie Brown's five career wins have come over C&D with the last of them coming off 18lb lower back October 2017. He wasn’t disgraced when 4th here 40-days ago and he’s too well handicapped to ignore at present.
Our Charlie Brown
Until next week.