Day One of the York ‘Ebor’ meeting today, with the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at the centre of the action at 3.35.
Eight are due to go to post for this ten furlong contest, with Poet’s Word at the head of the market at 6-4.
That may look like a skinny price, with the best of the 3-y-os lined up against it, but this horse has improved with just about every race he’s run and comes here after just prevailing in an epic battle with his stablemate Crystal Ocean in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Royal Ascot.
That contest was over a mile and a half, but today’s 10+ furlongs hold no fears for this admirable 5-y-o and we take him to put the youngsters firmly in their places.
The warm-up race for the St Leger, aka the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes takes place at 3.00 and we can only see two horses having a chance in this.
Cross Counter, who will not be running in the Leger, as it is ‘sans noisettes’, is the favourite at 11-8 and Charlie Appleby‘s charge produced a stunning performance at Glorious Goodwood in the Qatar Gordon Stakes, winning by an eased down 4+ lengths. That run makes it well nigh unbeatable this afternoon and a confident bet is recommended.
If there is a party pooper, it could be in the shape of the rapidly improving Wells Farhh Go, which was our selection when winning the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket six weeks ago. Staying is the name of this horse’s game and it makes sense to recommend an each way ‘saver’ on him at 5-1.
The third Group race on an excellent card is at 2.25, when the Tattersalls Acomb Stakes takes place and, at the risk of sounding boring, once again we head straight for the favourite.Watan, trained by Richard Hannon, won so impressively on debut at Goodwood that the 2-1 on offer may look like manna from heaven come 2.28pm. Described as ‘very exciting’ by his trainer, the step up to seven furlongs will suit admirably and we expect him to power clear of his field.
The Sky Bet Handicap over 2 miles at 4.15 is a 17 runner 7-1 the field affair and it is with some trepidation that we pass over our original choice Davy’s Dilemma, after the wet stuff failed to appear.
Instead, we will put up two against the rest in Here And Now (7-1) and Speedo Boy (8-1).
Ralph (pronounced ‘Rafe’) Beckett‘s 4-y-o Here And Now went very close to winning the Melrose Handicap at this meeting last year and has been prepared for this race with just two runs this season, the latter being a ‘sighter’ over course and distance, in which it finished a staying on third.
Speedo Boy tried this trip for the first time last time out and got it well, winning an Ascot handicap under today’s pilot Jimmy (Big Race) Doyle, who is back on top today. A 3lb rise may not stop it.
The card begins with a 20-runner sprint.
Thanks, but no thanks.
Poet’s Word 3.35 York win @ 6-4
Cross Counter 3.00 York win @ 11-8
Wells Farhh Go 3.00 York e/w @ 5-1
Watan 2.25 York win @ 2-1
Here And Now 4.15 York e/w @ 7-1 (5 places)
Speedo Boy 4.15 York e/w @ 8-1 (5 places)