Good morning all,
One of the quietest Saturdays of the year, with a lot of 2yo, 3yo handicaps and fillies races, none of which are my favourites.
Just the three races to look at. Bear in mind there's a bit of rain expected at York this morning – it may not amount to much, but it's something to be aware of.
2.30 York – John Smith’s Cup Handicap (1m2½f)
You’ll have to go a long way to find something you could describe as very well handicapped here. Maybe Baltic Baron, at a push, but he’s only won one of his 20 starts, and is much more likely to place than win. Dark Jedi still looks well enbough treated on old form too.
There’s not much pace on and maybe Sky Defender looks the most likely leader, but stall 23 looks an absolute killer. If he can get across without raiding the petrol tank in the process then he has his chance, but that looks unlikely.
Caradoc has ground to make up with Sky Defender on their Epsom run last time out but Caradoc came from an impossible position out the back in a race where it paid to be a lot nearer the pace. I expect him to reverse that form on a more conventional track today, and as a progressive type last year, I have him top of my shortlist, with the likely ground ideal.
Of the older brigade, you can give chances to both the 2018 winner of this, Euchan Glen, and down the bottom, Irv might be one at a huge price (update – Irv now a non-runner). Euchan Glen, I have no doubt, will have been tuned up with this race in mind, and the way he travelled easily through the race at Haydock last time (on ground a bit too soft) suggests the engine is still there. Irv just looks the wrong price, given a liking for this track (twice a winner here) and he comes here off the back of a good effort at Thirsk. The worry is this trip, which he’s not tried before and it’s not hard to see him reaching for the oxygen tanks late, but he’s hit the line strongly when he’s won here in the past over 1m, and is worth a try at further.
4.10 York – 6f Handicap
I’m looking at this race despite the fact it’s not on terrestrial TV tomorrow, as it is quite interesting.
Mainly because, for a big-field sprint handicap, there’s a distinct lack of front runners.
My first thought was to give Dark Shot a look, mainly on the fact York is very much his track. Twice he’s run very well in big fields here, but an overall strike rate of 2-47 shows you exactly what the problem is. He simply doesn’t win enough. There are other negatives – the form of the Scott Dixon yard is all over the shop, with a winner at Hamilton but five others runners since then barely sighted. And you need to forgive a couple of moderate efforts last month. Nevertheless, he is simply too well handicapped to ignore. Maybe a small place only bet.
Musicka is another that has his fans tearing his hair out, and has a similar profile to Dark Shot in so much as he’s usually thereabouts in these big-field sprint handicaps, yet a moderate strike rate of 5 wins in 40 starts doesn’t really mirror his ability. He’s been held up in two starts this year, but last year was front-running quite a bit (as when fourth from the “wrong” side in the Great St Wilfrids at Ripon) and if they return to those tactics today, he might have the leader's role to himself. Will that happen, though?
A race to treat with a touch of caution, but the potential for an upset is there.
2.15 Newbury – Rose Bowl Stakes (6f)
I’ve little interest in the Newbury card, if I’m honest, but the 40-1 about Mere Green catches the eye a bit here. She’ll come on plenty for her debut at Newmarket, where in truth she looked in need of further than 6f already (and her pedigree rather backs that up) but she wasn’t beaten far in finishing fifth, the fourth has come out and won a little race since, and the speed figure was decent, so I'm marking the race up a bit. This is Richard Fahey’s only runner on the card, so it’s not like she’s a runner simply to fill the box. You’d want the dead eight to line up, but I could throw a couple of quid each-way at her if that’s the case.
Today's selection – Caradoc 2.30 York
Have a good weekend and the best of luck with all your selections.