Four fantastic days racing at York. It’s just a shame it all had to end.
From a punting perspective it was a bit of a ‘mare’. Plenty of big priced efforts, including the 4th and 5th in the Ebor, but the winners were elusive.
You can read my thoughts on York, including a few notable horses for the notebooks and Monday's tip inside.
Here are my highlights from the Knavesmire:
Japan Lands International
You have to feel sorry for Crystal Ocean. A brave second to Enable in the King George VI. He had to settle for the runner-up spot again. This time it was Japan who lowered his colours in the Juddmonte International.
The 3-year-old middle distance Group 1 horses haven’t looked up to much. However, after this run Japan is clearly the standout performer for the classic generation. A double Group 1 winner, he now heads into the autumn with races like Irish Champion Stakes and Arc firmly in his sights.
Crystal Ocean had a tough race in the King George VI and according to Racing Post Ratings (RPR’s) ran 4lb below his run at Ascot. He probably needs a break but will be aimed at the Arc and maybe the Breeders Cup Turf.
But Elarqam Continues To Improve
Elarqam has improved tremendously from three to four and put in a career best when finishing a length behind Japan in third. He was outpaced two out and for a few strides, it seemed like he would fall away but to his credit he rallied well inside the final furlong.
He got slightly squeezed up in the closing stages, but I don’t think it made much difference to the result. The Champion Stakes, with a bit of ease in the ground could be ideal for the 4-year-old.
No Stopping Enable
It was my first chance to see Enable in the flesh and what a majestic sight she is.
It will be the last time we see Enable in action in Britain. Next stop the Arc where she will bid for a historic third successive win in Europe’s top middle-distance race.
As for the race itself. It was all routine stuff for Enable. Frankie had her out in front from the off and she was never headed. Magical tracked her and looked to have a chance two out. But once Frankie asked Enable to go it was all over.
It was Enable’s tenth Group 1 victory. Hopefully it will be an 11th at Longchamp.
But She Reduces Frankie to Tears
After the race an emotional Frankie was reduced to tears. As he realised that this would be the last time that he would be riding the mare in Britain.
I doubt racing’s greatest showman will ever get a chance to ride such a great horse.
Frankie's tears was my moment of the four days. As it showed the raw emotion that this great sport can produce.
Battaash Out of Hell
York’s Nunthorpe Stakes has been a race from hell for Battaash but for some reason the fastest 5f horse in the world just hasn't fired on his two starts at York.
Jim Crowley always had Battaash in a good position, just behind the leaders, and once he hit the front, he sprinted clear of his rivals to register an easy success. In the process beat Dayjur’s 5f track record. His York hoodoo is well and truly over.
Soldiers Call, who showed plenty of speed had no answer to the winners change of gear but bravely held on for second. So Perfect who was out paced in the early stages, ran on to grab third. She finished just ahead of Mabs Cross who found 5f on fast ground just too quick.
But Sovereign is Below Par
Favourite Ten Sovereign’s, such an impressive winner of the July Cup didn’t run to his best. Granted he could have found things happening too quick but I don’t think he would have won if the race had been over 6f. He just didn't seem right and his head carriage wasn't what you want to see.
Let’s not take anything away from the winner. It was his day and it was great to see him show the York crowd that he’s a world beater when he's at his best.
Hamish Has Ebor Dream
It wasn’t the best of meeting's for William Haggas. His sole winner over the four day’s was Hamish in the Melrose Handicap.
The step up to 1m 6f really suited the son of Motivator who handled the fast ground better than expected.
It paid to be off the pace and the winner came through with a strong run in the straight to take the lead inside the final furlong. It was stamina that won him the race and he should do even better when there's more ease in the ground.
The Melrose Handicap is one of three win and you’re in races for next years Ebor, a race I'm sure Hamish will be aimed at it.
The form of the race should work out well. Runner-up First In Line was plenty keen enough in the early stages of the race. In the circumstances he did well to hold on for second. He just had no answer to the winner’s strong finish. He’s a high-class colt and looks a pattern horse in the making.
Land Of Oz ran well to finish third. The 1m 6f trip was just too short for him. He needs 2m+ in this company, and looks lively contender for staying handicaps like the Cesarewitch.
Irish Eyes are Smiling
Irish raider Mustajeer fourth in last years Ebor went three places better this time around.
The race was run at a brisk pace, as Ben Vrackie led the field into the straight. He was headed two out by the mare True Self who looked to be cantering but she was headed by Mustajeer at the furlong mark and didn’t seem to stay. Nor did long-time leader Ben Vrackie.
It was just a question whether the eventual winner had hit the front too soon, but his backers didn’t have to worry as he held off the late challenge of Red Galileo down the stands rail. Mustajeer’s success was the 5th Irish trained winner of the race since 2009.
The winner was slightly helped by what was happening behind him, as Desert Skyline (3rd), Raymond Tusk (4th) and Barsanti (5th) didn’t get the clearest of runs when the winner went for home a furlong out.
Raymond Tusk was arguably the unluckiest of the three. He was travelling best of all two out but got no sort of run when needing it. Sadly for his backers the post came to quick. The 4-year-old will no doubt come back for next years race.
The well fancied King Advice and Withhold weren’t at their best and finished well down the field. Raheen House who had been backed off the boards also didn’t run his race. Maybe the ground was too quick for the 5-year-old.
This historic race that will only grow and grow in stature with such big prize money on offer.
There were a few horses that caught the eye and will be winning races in the coming weeks. I will be sharing them with my subscribers this week. If you want them you can join here.
Here’s a taster.
A Momentofmadness, trained by Charlie Hills, hadn't hit form so far this season but this was a much better effort from the 6-year-old.
He set a good gallop from the off and held on to finish 6th of 22 behind Dakota Gold. This should have set him up for next months Portland Handicap at Doncaster, a race he won last season off 4lb higher.
Last week’s selection Our Charlie Brown was a welcome winner for the column, at a generous 13/2. Can we have back to back winners?
It's a Bank Holiday in England and Wales so there's plenty of racing on offer. Today’s selection runs at Epsom.
3:40 – Mistiroc – You have to go back 3-years for the selections last win but he’s put in plenty of good performances since and he's well handicapped on the best of his form, including when 2nd of 14 at Doncaster back in April.
Top Irish amateur Jamie Codd is an eyecatching jockey booking and he and trainer John Quinn teamed up to win this race in 2016.
On a tough day for solid betting propositions he will do for me.
Until next week.