Good morning all,
It's possible that the weather could yet play havoc with a couple of today's meetings, with Newmarket and Ascot under some threat of thunderstorms, but as it stands it's quick ground at both meetings, and that's the case at York too, although it is very grey as I type this (I'm about 10m from the track).
Keep stakes small on such days as today is the advice, at least until you can be sure of what the ground is! My thoights on a few of today's races are on the main piece.
2.25 Ascot – Porsche Handicap (1m)
Mystery Smiles takes a big drop in class but that alone isn’t enough to lure me in, and although I respect the chances of the improving Marsabit and Isla Kai, I thought Latest Generation ran really well when second at Newmarket last time, sticking well to the task despite coming under pressure some way out. He pushed the odds-on Royal Fleet all the way to the line, and with the third and fourth both solid yardsticks, it looks a piece of form you can trust. The aforementioned Isla Kai should ensure there’s no messing about up front, and as long as he settles again, I think he’s the one to beat.
3.00 Ascot – International Stakes (7f)
Raising Sand responded well to first-time cheekpieces in the Buckingham Palace Stakes and on his unfavoured quick ground, ran a cracker to “win” his group on the far side. The handicapper has dropped him another couple of pounds, and if the predicted rain comes to just soften it a bit, then so much the better his chances.
I gave Kimifive a good mention for the Bunbury Cup, and he duly ran a good race to finish a close fifth and land us a bit of the each-way money. Stall 3 might not be the ideal place to be, but although he’s never won at Ascot he’s got plenty of solid straight-track form to his name. He could go well, but I still feel that next Saturday at Goodwood is where his best chance might lie.
Hard to know what to make of Matthew Flinders, thrown in here if you believe his latest effort at Chester when second to the genuine Group 1 horse Safe Voyage. I’m inclined to treat it with a bit of caution, and connections may have been rather forced to take their chance here.
Motakhayyel was one of the easiest Bunbury Cup winners I’ve seen in recent years, and only picks up a 3lb penalty for that. That was a career best by some way, and given he’s a 7f Ascot winner, he must have a huge chance of following up if this doesn’t come too quickly.
3.35 Ascot – King George VI
From a betting perspective I’ve not much interest here, as I do think one of the front two in the market will win.
Love has done it all, and in a Royal Ascot week when Aidan did not have the best of weeks, Love was the one that carried the can for Ballydoyle in the Prince Of Wales Stakes. That came off the back of a long break as well, and you feel she can only improve for it. She’s the one to beat.
Adayar was so well backed in the last two minutes before the off of the Derby that you felt someone knew something, and someone certainly did, as he ran out a ready winner under Adam Kirby. He never looked in danger from some way out, and with the form already franked by Hurricane Lane, it looks hard to knock. If the ground remained quick, that might ask a bit more of him, but he’s greatly respected all the same.
2.05 York – Jump Jockeys’ Nunthorpe Handicap (5f)
Yep, the cream of the jump jockeys riding 5f at York, it should be some spectacle.
Paul Midgeley has a strong hand. Mid Winster, a winner at Doncaster last time, has his quirks but he also has the assistance of Sam Twiston-Davies, which can only be a positive. He would appear to hold the best chance of his five, but Nibras Again, in top form and unlucky not to win one of his last two starts, won this (off the same mark) back in 2019, his only start at the track, and has to be of interest. As does his well-handicapped Son And Sannie, who hasn’t fired as yet this season but is slipping to a dangerous mark. Of the three, I just prefer Nibras Again, but there’s not much between them.
Down the bottom, it’s been a long while since Eeh Bah Gum got his head in front, but that was here at York and he shaped like he was coming back to form at Doncaster last week, possibly a little unlucky in the run. I expect Jamie Hamilton to try and jump out and make all, and if he was a double-figure price he’d be worth a small saver. Nibras Again for me, though.
2.40 York – Sky Bet Dash Handicap
Here, have another tricky spring handicap to try and solve…
Musicka won this last year (off the same mark) and there must be the possibility that he gets loose off the front again, and although plenty of these like to lie handy, not many of them actually want to lead. He’s tricky to win with and pops up when you least expect him to, but only a fool would write his chance off.
If there’s one likely to give him hassle on the front end it’s Giogiobbo, on a four-timer here after reeling off a hat-trick at Doncaster. This is undoubtedly tougher, but he might prove the spoiler for Musicka all the same.
The one I like is top weight Lahore, a winner over 5f here around this time last year (from a pound higher) and shaped much better on his second start this season when beaten just over 4l by Winter Power here a fortnight ago. He was never really put in the race but stayed on nicely in the closing stages. This is a drop in grade and although he appears to have plenty on under top weight, remember it’s a lot easier carrying 9-10 over 5f on quick ground than it is over three miles on soft!
Today's selection – Nibras Again 2.05 York
Good luck with all your bets today,