The calm before the storm that is Royal Ascot next week although, given the recent weather, we may have had that already! Nonetheless the £100,000 Saturday 7 throws up a typically tricky set of races, especially the headline handicaps at York, to navigate our Syndicate ticket through.
The Scurry stakes has unearthed some quality sprinters over the years, with Battaash certainly the pick of them going forward. There doesn’t look to be anything of that calibre in here this year.
Well Done Fox was the best of these last season and a repeat of his second to Sergei Prokofiev should be good enough here. His run behind Calyx first time out this season over 6f was certainly not as bad as the finishing position ascertains.
Pocket Dynamo doesn’t have the same form figures as some of these but has certainly been taking on the toughest opposition. He found the Temple Stakes too hot last time, but all of these would also. That experience can stand him in good stead from his favourable draw today.
Selections: Well Done Fox, Pocket Dynamo
A large field that could easily have yielded six or seven selections, the first of the York handicaps in this pool is a massive headscratcher.
Connections of Kaeso are eyeing a win here to get their charge into the Royal Hunt Cup under a penalty and, given his run to third in the Victoria Cup, you can see why they want to get back to the straight course at Ascot.
The forecast soft ground should play to the strengths of Lord Oberon, with his sire Mayson being a strong influence. His second at Haydock last week was a step back in the right direction and the move back to 7f will be of further help.
I’m also adding Great Prospector and Admirality. The former’s run behind subsequent group winner Safe Voyage can be upgraded given that he hit trouble in-running. We selected Admirality last week and he looked to need this return to 7f, faith in Roger Fell’s charge remains intact.
Selections: Kaeso, Lord Oberon, Great Prospector, Admirality
It’s Chester, Franny Norton is riding a fancied Mark Johnston horse who has won before from the front. No need to look elsewhere is there really? We’ll take one more alongside Gravistas though in the form of the regally bred Waldstern. A Sea The Stars half-brother to multiple Group 1 winner Waldgeist, the step up to 1m 4f and the family’s preference for soft ground mean he looks to have a lot in his favour. His run behind Norway at Newmarket in October has been somewhat franked, as long as he doesn’t need this first run of the season he can push Franny Norton all the way up the Roodee home straight.
Selections: Gravistas, Waldstern
Mekong was second to Dee Ex Bee at Sandown a few weeks back, a run that should see him gain a first black type success over a less demanding track and slightly shorter trip. He will once again have to contend with Austrian School but I expect his winning margin to be greater over this shorter trip.
Gold Mount was a top class horse in Hong Kong and has Melbourne Cup aspirations later in the year. He would be a danger to Mekong if he has fully acclimatised to life back in the UK, when he ran under the name Primotivo.
A lot of these have been running consistently well in some quality mile handicaps so far this season, with Greenside perhaps having the pick of the form. He ran well behind a blot on the handicap on Derby Day and a return to this stiffer track will be in his favour. That being said, there doesn’t seem to be much pace on offer in this race, which points us towards Masham Star.
He should be able to dictate the pace he desires but, regardless, he ties in well with the form of Greenside in the aforementioned race at Epsom. We’ll take a third selection in this race in the form of Sawwaah, who has cheek pieces on for the first time. He didn’t necessarily look in need of them on his reappearance third-placed finish at Newmarket but they should help him settle better in the early part of the race.
Selections: Greenside, Masham Star, Sawwaah
Blown By Wind is out for the third week in a row but remains as consistent as ever. He flirts between 6f and 7f, with neither seeming to bother him. Ryan Moore is an eye catching booking for Mark Johnston, he shouldn’t be out of the frame.
The two month absence may be a concern for many with regards to Ventura Ocean but, according to connections, he has been laid out for this for some time. His win at Pontefract in April was authoritative and is the choice of Paul Hanagan from four Richard Fahey runners in the race.
Cosmic Law was one of those and his York form is what draws me to include the son of No Nay Never. Only beaten by five lengths in both of last year’s Gimcrack stakes and Rockingham stakes over course and distance. A repeat would translate well to this company.
Finally we add one of William Haggas’ runners who should always be given a second glance at York, Victory Day. He steps into handicap company for the first time after an emphatic novice win at Ripon.
Selections: Blown By Wind, Ventura Ocean, Victory Day, Cosmic Law
Not exactly an easy finish to the pool with eight runners and only one easily discounted. Given the fairly large ticket we’ve built to this point, I’d be keen on keeping the lines we have built up at the moment.
Therefore I’m going to select Favourite and take the horse that the market has most confidence in to finish off. I’d be surprised if that doesn’t end up being Artistic Rifles or Karnavaal.
The former is improving rapidly and is looking for the hat-trick, having won his last two in photo finishes and looking like he still has a bit up his sleeve. Karnavaal has finished behind two winners who have both gone in again. He is particularly interesting on his run behind Space Blues, who should take all the beating in the Jersey Stakes next week.