The Knavesmire might not be baked in sunshine for the start of York’s three-day Dante meeting, but the ground will be on the fast side of good for the return of the champion sprinter Harry Angel in today’s feature race the Gp 2 Duke Of York Stakes.
The Clive Cox-trained sprinter won the July Cup on fast ground last season but he picks up a 5lbs penalty for his Group 1 successes and has been beaten first time out on his two seasons to date.
I am going to give the each way vote to Sir Dancealot (3.10) despite the fact that he was beaten fair and square by Brando at Newmarket on their respective reappearances. The selection who is 10/1 at BetVictor cannot afford to lost ground at the start – which he did again at HQ – but will get the end-to-end gallop he needs and I just feel this track will suit him more than the Rowley Mile.
The opening 12f handicap is a fascinating race with the lightly-raced Hamada (2.20) looking to build on a fluent win on Wolverhampton’s tapeta from a 5lbs lower mark last month. The selection looked a strong stayer when scoring at Dunstall Park and he will be hoping that Crowned Eagle makes it a decent test of stamina.
Cavatina (4.35) pulled hard and failed to get home over a mile at Chelmsford on her seasonal reappearance and the hope is that this drop back to 7f will suit the William Haggas-trained filly. She is likely to need a true gallop at this trip but that looks guaranteed in this 15-runner handicap and she can reward each way support at 8/1 with BetVictor.
Duke Of Hazzard will get further in time but cost 130,000 euros as a yearling and a market move would be worth noting in the novice event for juveniles. Declan Carroll won this corresponding race 12-months ago with Santry who went on to finish runner up in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and his World Order (5.05) is taken to go one better than when runner up at Doncaster on debut.
That form was given a boost when the winner – No Lippy – followed up at Chester last week and I hope he can book his place at the Royal meeting this afternoon.
Sky Eagle (5.35) has been raised 7lbs for winning a Wolverhampton handicap last month and the hope is that Ed Walker’s well-bred colt can improve again switched back to turf. The selection is 8/1 at BetVictor and I think he can reward each way support in a competitive 20-runner handicap.
I have always thought there was a race to be won with Sula Island (2.45) and I think the return to faster ground should suit Alan King’s filly who finished third on heavy ground at Leicester last time. Likely market leader Rayaa is 3lbs higher than when finishing second at Pontefract last time but has to show she is as equally adept on this quicker surface.
Over the jumps at Newton Abbot and I am going to give one last chance to Royal Irish Hussar (3.10) who ran his best race for some time when second at Kempton to a well-treated rival over 2m 5f last time and this slight drop in distance looks to be ideal.
At Punchestown this evening I hope this drop in grade will suit the mare Asthuria in the opening handicap chase over two miles for Willie Mullins. The mare was no match for Footpad over tonight’s C&D last month but that was in Grade 1 company and this looks more her grade.