YORK August 22nd:
In what is a tough culmination to the Ebor meeting, Buratino will be pressed to concede his penalty to promising rivals in the Gimcrack at 3.10. Having finished a cracking second in the Group 2 Robert Papin last time, Ajaya is one of several with a serious chance. Steady Pace represents the solid Shalaa/Tasleet form; whilst there are reasons to believe King Of Rooks is better than his last two runs. A return to this trip may suit and he looks a value bet.
3.45: Irish horses dominate the betting for the Ebor: it’s a case of the usual suspects in Messrs Mullins, Martin and O’Brien. Despite the fact that Frankie Dettori has jumped ship, Arabian Comet could go well. Second at this meeting last year in the Galtres, she comes to hand at this time of year, represents a stable that could hardly be in better form and although the handicapper has hardly erred on the side of generosity, she is fairly treated over a trip that will suit. Obviously Dettori prefers the chance of Clondaw Warrior.
YORK August 21st:
2.30: It was no surprise that Tac De Boistron failed to land a blow in the Ascot Gold Cup as the ground was all against him. Therefore that run is best disregarded. Back on a more favourable surface now, and seven pounds better off with Clever Cookie for their running at Chester in May, he has a clear chance of recovering the winning thread. A decent performer on his day (has won the Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak twice but escapes a penalty), a return to his best form means he can go very close. He looks the value alternative to the market leaders who are otherwise hard to split.
3.40: This all depends on the monster that is Acapulco. The juvenile filly won a strong Queen Mary with a great deal of authority, but against her elders this is a somewhat different assignment. Arguably drawn on the wrong side of the track, she is favourite to take advantage of the weight she receives and cannot be opposed lightly. Long on numbers but short in quality, punters of the favourite may go loco after the race but Muthmir looks a bet for nothing each-way.
YORK August 20th:
1.55: After his second to the smart Shalaa in the Richmond, Tasleet appears to face a drop in the grade in this opening sales race. However, Shalaa beat him comprehensively at Goodwood so Tasleet will need to improve again to justify cramped odds. A concession of 5lbs to the classy Excessable may find him out. Excessable tries a sixth furlong for the first time (should not be an inconvenience) and comes here after racing on the wrong side in the Wetherby’s Sprint at Newbury when only three lengths adrift. Before that he was beaten only a head at Beverley in a richly endowed event by a subsequent winner to whom he was attempting to concede a stone. That form is solid and Excessable looks overpriced for this.
2.30: Lumiere created a big impression when winning at Newmarket on debut; but although she undoubtedly has ability she beat little and this represents an altogether different test against proven opponents. After a couple of efforts in top class, Besharah, who handled ease in the ground at Ascot like a filly that relished it, looks a ready alternative.
3.05: As always handicaps here are tough to win. On this easier ground, despite his years, having been given a chance by the handicapper, Penitent may run better than his double-figure price (25/1 at the time of writing) implies.
3.40: With little more than a cigarette paper between the principals in the Yorkshire Oaks it could be a case of perm any one of five. Covert Love goes into the event with the best profile, but unbeaten this season since May, there has to be a question mark about her being able to sustain her form. Add Outstanding to an already long list and we have a race best sat out.
YORK August 19th:
2.30: Blinkers and a tongue-tie temper any enthusiasm in Lieutenant General, who faces potentially smart opposition here. Cymric (withdrawn at Newbury on Saturday due to the soft ground) and Recorder look the most likely. Recorder, who has shown plenty of encouragement on his two starts to date, gets the vote to supplement a win at Newmarket last time that is working out well. He looks capable of better still. Mohab will find this a much stiffer test than he has encountered so far.
3.05: After excellent efforts at Group 1 level, Storm The Stars is the clear form pick here, particularly as he was in front of the penalised Balios last time at levels. However, the lightly-raced and improving Bondi Beach could prove to be the stumbling block. Jockey bookings suggest he has the edge over Queen’s Vase winner Aloft and Giovanni Canaletto – who was only two lengths behind Storm The Stars at Epsom. Tashaar is heading in the right direction but faces a serious hike in class now, leaving the progressive Bondi Beach (winner of the Group 3 Curragh Cup last time) to pose the biggest threat to a favourite that has surely plateaued for the time being at least.
3.40: So to a cracking renewal of the Juddmonte International, surely dominated this year by a trio of outstanding three-year-olds. Golden Horn looks one of the best Derby winners in recent years – a horse that can be compared with Sea The Stars and Galileo. Despite doubts over his ability to truly stay the Derby trip back in June, he now looks a natural twelve furlong horse – emphasised by the way he pulled away from The Grey Gatsby in the closing stages of the Coral Eclipse. The Grey Gatsby’s beating of last year’s winner of this, Australia, in the Irish Champion, only emphasises Golden Horn’s claims to the highest level. A fast pace is ensured by the presence of a pacemaker so the trip is unlikely to inconvenience the unbeaten Derby winner here. Formidable opponent though he appears on paper, Gleneagles (who has precocious speed on the distaff side) may struggle beyond a mile at such an exalted level. In any event he has yet to prove himself against older horses. A bigger threat emerges in the shape of Time Test, who will be in his element over this extended ten furlongs and looked like a colt about to peak when scoring at Royal Ascot in June. Saved for this, he looks likely to give Golden Horn most to do and will be no pushover.
4.20: Irish challengers Heartbreak City and Cardinal Palace both complicate an already tricky looking handicap. Either could be favourably treated now returned to the Flat and they look dangerous. Oasis Fantasy has had a nightmare season, success largely thwarted by poor draws. The problem is that he has run well in defeat and risen in the handicap as a result.
4.55: Without an all-important phone call in the dead of night, there are too many possible plots lurking in this nursery. Reputation, Sir Roger Moore and Tawwaaq appeal as three likely candidates in a race riddled with intrigue.
SATURDAY August 15th:
NEWBURY: 2.00: Normally a race of betting interest, with there being so little between Twin Sails and Palawan on Goodwood running – form that, although the best on offer, may not be particularly strong – it is hard to form a solid opinion here. Of the two Twin Sails is marginally preferred, but he and Palawan do face other threats. The ground is likely to test American-bred Cymric to the limit, but Dessertoflife is likely to improve for this surface.
2.35: A reproduction of his third in the King George would entitle Romsdal to take this, but he is not a horse to place ultimate faith in. His supporters will argue he has the trip and the ground in his favour, which they will bank on being the clincher on this occasion. However, his overall profile does not instil confidence. Gospel Choir is uncomplicated and likely to run his race; whilst on this easier surface, Ayrad (two lengths behind Gospel Choir last time) could play a bigger part in proceedings today.
3.45: On this ground Here Comes When gets his chance to grab his first success of the season. Proven on this sort of surface, with no Solow to contend with here, he can make the most of a drop in grade and looks sure to figure. Of the rest Markaz has the ability to trouble the principals, whilst the current price on offer for Majestic Mount assumes too much. A winner over this trip and on this ground in France, he does have something to find but should not be dismissed. Richard Pankhurst will surely benefit from this his first attempt since winning the Chesham as a juvenile; Adaay may be stretched by the trip; Cable Bay and last year’s winner Breton Rock have solid claims without appealing as betting propositions; penalised Safety Check has no form on ground this soft.
NEWMARKET: 2.50: Ice Lord looks temptingly well-treated in this competitive event and is taken to run well from the foot of the handicap.