The Group 2 Yorkshire Cup over 1m 6f is the highlight of the final day of York’s Dante meeting and the ground is again likely to be on the fast side of good.
I was disappointed with Count Octave at Newmarket last time when he was easily brushed aside by the progressive grey Defoe – albeit over a mile-and-a-half. Today’s step up in trip will suit but he was beaten a neck by Stradivarius (3.30) in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot last June and I see no reason why he should reverse the form with the John Gosden-trained stayer.
The selection landed the Goodwood Cup before finishing third – beaten half a length – in the St Leger and this son of Sea The Stars should be at home under today’s underfoot conditions. The selection is 5/6 with BetVictor for today’s contest and 9/2 for next month’s Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
The listed Michael Seeley Stakes is a hot race and Threading (13/8 at BetVictor) is on something of a retrieval mission for Mark Johnston returning to a track where she was so impressive last summer when winning the Group 2 Lowther Stakes.
I am sure there will be many prepared to forgive her a disappointing run at Newmarket – her second flop at HQ – back on the Knavesmire but I was very impressed with the Roger Varian-trained Sheikha Reika (2.55) on her reappearance and expect the filly to improve again stepped up in grade.
The selection (5/2 at BetVictor) bumped into a couple of smart sorts as a juvenile but looked to have thrived over the winter when routing the opposition in maiden company on her reappearance. It is possible that she didn’t have much to beat at Newmarket but she looked up to this listed class to me.
The booking of Ryan Moore for David Menusier’s Nuits St Georges catches the eye but at the time of writing the yards last four runners have beaten a total of six runners home and he is overlooked unless the market suggests otherwise.
The top-weight Baghdad (5.40) didn’t get the race run to suit at Wolverhampton coming back from a three-month lay-off and the hope is that this son of Frankel gets more of a test of stamina. The selection is closely related to a couple of strong stayers and William Buick takes over in the saddle this afternoon for Mark Johnston.
At Newbury I hope to see Fly The Nest (2.00) go one better than when runner up at Newmarket on debut for Charlie Appleby. The winner of that five-furlong contest – Konchek – is considered Royal Ascot material by trainer Clive Cox and the third horse home for Hugo Palmer had already shown a fair level of form.
First Eleven (4.45) looks sure to appreciate today’s faster ground having been runner up on heavy ground at Salisbury last time. The colt has yet to win in four starts but is the half-brother of the Group 1 winner Kingman and is potentially well-treated off a mark of 77.
I am looking forward to the seasonal reappearance of Al Muffrih (4.15) in the 10f maiden for William Haggas. The colt finished third at Newmarket on debut and that form was franked when the winner – Knight To Behold – landed the Derby trial at Lingfield last weekend.
At Newmarket Shabeeb (3.35) looked ready for a return to 1m 6f when a staying on fourth at Epsom last month and he has been dropped 1lb for that effort.
If there is a star on show at Newmarket it could be Herculean (4.25) who holds an entry at Royal Ascot for Roger Charlton and makes his seasonal reappearance in the 1m Novice Stakes. The selection won his sole start as a juvenile at Ascot back in September and is potentially smart.