The highlight of the day is the Musidora, a renowned trial for the Oaks at Epsom. Six previous winners of the race have achieved success at Epsom. Will we see the 2019 Oaks winner on show this week?
1.50 – Jorvik Handicap
This looks a tricky handicap with a number of unexposed improvers competing with some fully exposed horses who look handicapped to the hilt. My strategy for races like this is to break the field into groups and then work out the strengths of each group. However, I may take a differing approach to selections when it comes to trying to find a win or a place.
The first group in these big field handicaps are usually ‘improvers’, those which haven’t yet reached the ceiling of their handicapping ability. In most big field handicaps for older horses, they are generally over-bet by the public and trying to find value with these types is difficult.
However, the higher class of handicap, the more of these types that will exist and, in this race, it is loaded with them which suggests that one or two are almost guaranteed to reach the frame. Looking at these unexposed horses, some are easier to make a case for than others.
First Eleven finished third last year in the King George V Stakes (behind Corgi, giving 3lbs to Corgi) off a mark of 91. It later won at Ascot off a mark of 97 by a couple of lengths which suggests a mark of 104 is not impossible. Whichever way I look at First Eleven, it is a group horse running in a handicap and will be difficult to keep out of the frame from a nice draw in five.
Collide has a progressive profile and is only 2lbs higher than winning on seasonal debut at Kempton. It was very impressive last year at Nottingham on soft ground and, having won its maiden on good to soft along with a novice at Carlisle on soft, it’s fair to say has a preference for soft ground. Ground at York is currently good and drying and therefore, I think Collide should be taken on.
Corgi is more exposed than a few, though is still only four and had a progressive profile last year. It was second at Royal Ascot, second at Glorious Goodwood and, despite disappointing at York last year, was held up from a wide draw with a pace bias in the race. It ran ok to be sixth and I’m not 100% sure wanted the extra 2f that day, so is back down in trip today. It is 3lbs better off than First Eleven on the Royal Ascot run despite finishing in front of it. Therefore, assuming both horses have wintered well and progressed at a similar ratio, Corgi is likely to present better value.
They don’t come more unexposed than Fujaira Prince. Four runs over two years providing three wins and a second. Impossible to fully gauge its ability given that it won a competitive handicap by three lengths last time off a mark of 88, a mark of 95 is unlikely to be the ceiling of this one’s ability. The fact they have continued with it this season makes me think the connections know what they have here and therefore, I suspect this could be pretty special.
Usually, you might have one or two unexposed horses in a handicap but its half the field here. I will be surprised if the exposed horses have enough in hand to trouble some of these but there is one who I have to mention.
Proschema is much more exposed than the other four year olds and, off a mark of 105, will surely struggle to beat a few of these who are improving off lower marks but, in terms of a value bet at a price, this would be it I think. Finished third of 16 at York last year over 1m5f off a mark of 100 and then, off its revised mark, it was second of 12 over the same course and distance.
To summarise, I think Corgi is probably the value in the field although it’s hard to think Fujaira Prince and First Eleven won’t both run some sort of race. Of the others, I would suggest Proschema is potentially value as it is likely to be overlooked for the less exposed types.
Selections – Corgi, Fujaira Prince, First Eleven, Proschema
2.25 – Infinity Tyres Handicap
This race looks a minefield, although it’s these races I generally do well at. My usual tactic with these big field sprints is to try to find a draw angle but York is one of the fairest sprint tracks in the country. The stalls will be centre here and therefore, pace of the race is more important than the draw although as ever, if there is a strip of ground that is better than some of the other ground, it will become the golden highway for jockeys in this race.
I usually work down the field from the top of the handicap and in this race I didn’t have to go very far down the field as the top two in the handicap both come into the race of the back of a decent run at Ripon. Intisaab has been around for ages and has been rated above 100 since winning off a mark of 100 in late 2016. He has run three times at York; with two seconds and a first. Clearly, all of these were off lower marks but it shows he handles the track and he is made for coming late in these big field springs. He has to be on any shortlist.
The one who finished one place in front of him last time was Staxton and again, like Intisaab, Staxton has a decent record at York and goes on the ground. He is 1lb lower than last time (every little helps!) and I actually think a mark of 100 isn’t bad for this one based on the overall profile. Looks sure to run a race and will hopefully come on a little for last time and it’s only 1lb higher than when 4th of 20 last season over the same course and distance.
Wentworth Falls is consistent and has enough form in the book over 6f on good ground to make me think it can finish top four today, given luck in running. Ran well last time and clearly came on a bundle for its seasonal debut at Beverley. Likely to run well today but not good enough to win.
Aljady stands out in this race as being the unexposed horse who is potentially on a very good mark. Won its first 3 races and then ran well in defeat at Goodwood before rounding the season off with a second place at Ascot. It’s hard to leave this one out of any shortlist as well.
Golden Apollo will win a big sprint handicap this year I think, as it went close a few times last season but I have my reservations about the ground. However, the form it has at York and the fact it ran OK last time when I think it would have needed the run actually makes it interesting in this race. If it was soft ground, I would be all over this at a big price but even so, wouldn’t be surprised if it ran a race.
Final one for my shortlist is Savalas. However, it’s hard for me to back it again after last time’s run and although it might come on for this run, it needs to show something here I think before I can back it again. If it was back in form like last season, the second over course and distance off a mark of 98 would put it in with a chance here.
Selections – Intisaab, Staxton, Wentworth Falls, Aljady, Golden Apollo, Savalas
3.00 – Logistics Stakes
This race depends on whether you are with or against Limato. It is clearly the best horse in the race and a few years ago, it was one of the best sprinters in the world. As sometimes happens with sprinters, they tried to turn this one into a miler and it’s clear as day it is a 6f horse and not a miler.
It has won four of its last eight races but bombed out in the other four. Probably the sort of horse you want on a Win 4/6 but in terms of a Place 6, I would be taking this on. It looks to me as though it might come to hand later in the year and given it is carrying a 3lb penalty today and having its seasonal debut against others who have had a run, it is one to be taking on I think.
Brando is one of two obvious alternatives I think. Second in the race last year, it has come the same route as last year with a run in the Abernant at Newmarket. It was only third this year but it was a strange race I think and strictly speaking, it needs to turn the form around with Yafta who finished a neck in front of it in second last time.
Would not be surprised if Brando reversed the form but Yafta didn’t get the clearest of runs that day either, so no guarantees. If I was going for a value bet, I would suggest Yafta but I think Brando is probably certain to run its race, so hard to leave out the Place 6.
The other obvious alternative is Invincible Army, who has matured into a very good sprinter and was very impressive at Donny when it won the Cammidge, going away at the end to beat Major Jumbo by a couple of lengths. Can’t see Major Jumbo closing the gap (I backed it last time when I thought it may catch a few of them cold from the front) and it’s hard to see Invincible Army not running a race.
Selections – Yafta, Invincible Army, Brando
3.35 – Musidora Stakes
Nausha was very impressive when winning on debut late last season and, therefore, it was very disappointing what happened at Kempton a few weeks ago when it was turned over at odds on in a 6 runner affair. However, watching the race it was clear it wasn’t right (travelled well to a point and then found nothing) and later came to light that the bit went through its mouth 2f out which probably explains the run. I would definitely ignore that and, if it was coming into this race off the debut run, suspect it would be even more fancied.
Sparkle Roll is a clear improver and it was too green to do itself justice on debut and finished a well beaten sixth after hanging badly and flashing its tail. Improved massively second time out when winning easily at Haydock. Had to carry a penalty to victory in a novice race last time but won well and the horse it beat into second was then third in the Lingfield Oaks Trial at the weekend. Giving 7lbs and a beating to Kings Power means it can’t be far off being a decent animal I think.
Selections – Nausha, Sparkle Roll
4.05 – Conundrum Handicap
The only thing more difficult than pattern races for me study wise is three year old handicaps. Lots of unexposed horses and, having gone through them all, I suspect this is potentially the race which can improve the Place 6 dividend today. Hence, I make no apology for having a fairly lengthy shortlist.
Conaglen caught my eye on its win from last time, suggesting it could be on a decent mark. Conaglen runs off of 78 here and, of course, could just be the case it is an EW horse but can’t be ignored.
Watchmyeverymove was unlucky on its last run and it suggests to me that a mark of 80 is probably not beyond him this season. No idea if fit but market will tell me I suspect.
Karnavaal was well fancied for a hot race last time but the front two have bolted up since and it looked to me like it needed the run that day with the way it ran. The market suggested it was well handicapped off a mark of 82 and, down 1lb today, it has to be on the shortlist.
Black Magic Woman looks to me like it is on a decent mark based on its seasonal debut and, although it disappointed last time, it was a very competitive race with a lot of pace on early. It will get find it easier on that front today, with the booking of Mosse catching my eye.
Space Blues and Breath of Air both look unexposed and are potentially better than handicappers. Would be surprised if one of the two don’t run some sort of race.
Selections – Conaglen, Karnavaal, Watchmyeverymove, Black Magic Woman and Breath of Air.
4.35 – Novice Stakes
I’ve narrowed it down to a few here. Bomb Proof has Dettori on board and Noseda is clearly not as powerful a stable as he once was but he is still very good with two year olds and he has a winner from his only two-year-old runner this season. It could do anything and the market is likely to tell us but the entry later in the season for the Redcar Trophy suggests it may have shown something.
Sun Power could also do anything but Hannon hasn’t really got going with his two year old runners yet although he had a really good winner at Windsor on Monday evening and he is definitely one to watch when he starts releasing the huge amount of two year old ammunition at his disposal.
The one with the best form in the race is Kidda from the Fahey stable and it turned over a hotpot from the Johnston stable last time out and it is likely to try to make all here. It’s a hard task to concede 6lbs to the unraced horses but I personally feel that it is possible to give weight to unraced horses as a run is worth at least a few lbs for most horses, so I would have to have Kidda alongside the other two unraced horses from the powerful stables.
Of the rest, the Ryan, Johnston, Fahey and Burke horses could be anything and the market is the best guide for these generally. If they are single figure prices, they are likely to be well forward and are probably ones to watch. If they are double figures, it’s unlikely that today is the day.
Selections – Bomb Proof, Kidda, Sun Power