York Ebor Festival 2016 – Day 4

All 3 of Will’s NAPS have won at York this week – JOIN US for NAP no. 4! It’s been a fun week to work for Our Lord and Saviour, Roger Varian. Not only did he pull off a fine training feat to get Postponed to win the Juddmonte International, but he also managed to pull off a second military coup in the shape of getting Barsanti to land yesterday’s opener here for the same connections. It’s quite a hat-trick that he will land if Battersea is able to take the Betfred Ebor (4.00) and he looks to have a better chance than most of the bookmakers suggest here. Second in the Mallard last year, he was unlucky for the second race in a row with luck in running before taking a valuable handicap in Dubai and finishing fourth in a Group 3. His return, when fourth in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes, was a fine one, and he simple found the pace too slow when fifth in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes. Today he should have a far stronger gallop to aim at and in a first time hood that makes him of real interest here in what is a brutally competitive race.

The other to be chosen is Kinema, who took the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot when coming from nearer last in the final furlong to get there in the nick of time. He was helped by the fact that Elite Army struck for home so early and that Kings Fete had a nightmare passage but the form of that race has worked out well in general and he can be forgiven not making the step up in class for the Goodwood Cup since. Antiquarium has to be respected having won the Northumberland Plate but this shorter trip probably suits Seamour of the pair whilst Fun Mac and Vent De Force are others to really consider at a price with Tony Martin’s pair of Quick Jack and Heartbreak City hugely feared. The Gimcrack (3.20) presents a classic dilemma of form against potential with Mubtasim, having won a maiden and novice stakes impressively, going against a several pattern types here. Of those Blue Point is deserving of favouritism here (far more so than at Goodwood, when he was beaten in the Vintage Stakes at 8/11), and it will take a good one to lower the colours of Godolphin’s colt. However Mokarris may be good enough to do so. A really impressive maiden winner on his debut at Haydock, he sank in the soft ground at Ascot but was very impressive returned to a fast surface at Newbury, and thankfully for him the rain that did hit York yesterday didn’t sink into what remained a quick surface. This is another step up but he had any amount in hand on his Newbury rivals and he deserves a chance to prove himself again. The pure strength of the Ebor has made the Melrose (2.50) a very competitive race in itself now and it would be no surprise if those involved at the finish today ended up being group horses before the end of the season, if not next. The key to this race may well be a 12 furlong handicap at Goodwood where neither Shraaoh, Jaameh, Emperor Napoleon or Master Blueyes looked entirely happy all the way round and those four may find themselves involved in the thick of things again. I don’t think it’s stretching things to suggest that if Saraaoh had handled the track at any point during the downhill run, he’d have won, and that he did get so close when making all of his ground in the final furlong speaks volumes for his latent ability. Running off the same mark today, he has every chance to making amends. Master Blueyes hadn’t looked as good with cut in the ground twice after overcoming keeneness to win at Chester and he looked certain to go closer before the door was slammed shut on him in the final furlong. Off the same mark, granted a clear run he can beat Jaameh and Emperor Napoleon today and this trip should be right up his street. Aidan O’Brien’s pairing of Kellstrom and Unicorn both have form to recommend them but the more rain the better for Kellstrom and Unicorn is making his reappearance in this race so the market vibes through the day will tell an awful lot for his chances. In the Strensall Stakes (2.10) not much separated more than a few of the main contenders and so many outcomes are realistic but this drop back in trip really ought to be ideal for Scottish, who has had a fine season so far and bumped into an improving one in the shape of Royal Artillery last time, who would go onto be second in a high class Group 2 behind the winner and runner up of the Prix-Du Jockey Club at Deauville. It remains to be seen how the very promising Sutter County returns from injury in the Julia Roses Stakes (4.35) but he is a watching brief in what is a good but trappy betting heat and there’s no interest in the last (5.05) for the apprentices. The opener (1.45) has far more of interest and whilst there’s no tip, Mark Johnston’s ode to Evening is draw in the right place to make the running, a strategy that has worked well this week even when there has been an abundance of pace in the race. Also consider Dark Red, who has had a break since an Epsom fourth where he had excuses for stopping a winning run. Off the same mark he has to be of interest but the same could be said for many. At Sandown, it’s easy to make a Persuasive argument for the horse of the same name in the Atlanta Stakes (2.30). John Gosden’s three year old was extremely well backed to take the Sandringham at Ascot and even the weather couldn’t stop her as she bulldozed her way to victory. That came off only 95 but two Listed winners have since come out of the Sandringham and her current rating of 104 looks lenient still for Cheveley Park’s hot prospect. The Solario Stakes (3.05) has the look of a hot race with several taking winners lining up. Plenty have lots of scope to improve here but that may be most true of Eqitraan. He was a well supported 5/2 favourite on debut at Ascot and despite running green, won as his price suggested he should when looking as if an extra furlong would be no issue at all for him. The form of that race had looked solid enough but it was boosted tenfold when runner up Rivet was adeptly impressive winner of the Convivial Maiden Stakes today and there’s plenty in his favour on that performance. At the Curragh, Order of St George leads a fascinating two days of racing that will act as trials for the Irish Champions Weekend and he should take the Irish St Leger Trial (2.45) with ease. The aptly named Curragh Stakes (3.15) is likely to be far more competitive with four of the races being within 5 points of each other and of those Velveteen and Sportsmanship might just be best although it looks as if it could pay to leave that race. In the opening maidens (1.40 and 2.10), we should find plenty of winners next time out although if breaking on terms Bean Feasa ought to go very well and Khukri can make amends for bumping into a Group class colt on his debut in the shape of Intelligence Cross. For thoughts on the rest of the weekend’s racing, please listen to the ‘Horses for Courses’ podcast. Advice 1 pt each/way Battersea, 4.00 York (25/1 general, 25/1 SkyBet*) 1 pt each/way Kinema, 4.00 York (12/1 general) 1 pt win Mokarris, 3.25 York (6/1 Ladbrokes, Coral, Bet365) 1 pt each/way Master Blueyes, 2.50 York (10/1 Boylesports) 1 pt win, Scottish, 2.15 York (4/1 general) 2 pts win Persuasive, 2.30 Sandown (9/4 Bet365) 1 pt each/way Equitraan, 3.05 Sandown (10/1 Bet365)