What are the best bets at York on Friday?
It’s Ladies’ Day on the Knavesmire this afternoon and it’s the four Channel 4-televised races that come under scrutiny here.
14:20 Ralph Raper Memorial Handicap, 5f
A tough opener with 15 improving three-year-olds set to go to post, some at a faster rate than others. The bookmakers have landed on recent Windsor winner Just That Lord as favourite and he looks sure to go well under a 6lb penalty. However, the 7/2 on offer is no giveaway and I’d rather take a flyer on one at bigger odds, with Bryan Smart’s AYRESOME ANGEL catching the eye at bet365’s 25/1. Given she’s a filly taking on colts on her reappearance, her inclusion here needs some explaining and it’s not because she is the form horse, though she did show plenty of speed when winning at Chester and finishing fourth in a nursery at this track last summer.
What really marks her out, though, is the form of her stable and at this meeting with a couple of stablemates hitting the frame at big odds (25/1 and 50/1) on Wednesday, to go with a 14/1 winner and a 9/1 second in the last fortnight. With the stable conditional Phil Dennis taking 5lb off her back, it wouldn’t be the greatest surprise to see her finish in the money thus ensuring a tidy profit. Small stakes, mind.
14:55 Langleys Solicitors EBF Marygate Fillies’ Stakes (Listed), 5f
The betting is dominated by the Mark Johnston and Richard Hannon-trained previous winners, Boater and Stormy Clouds, with best prices of 2/1 and 3/1 available respectively at the time of writing. The former filly absolutely bolted up on her debut at Kempton in March and the switch to turf may see her in an even better light, while the Hannon filly was an impressive scorer at Salisbury last time (good to soft) when giving the impression she’d appreciate a faster surface.
I’d go for Boater if I had to pick between them but, given they take such a huge chunk out of the market, there has to be some value elsewhere and the one I like (each-way) is the Ann Duffield-trained TWIZZELL (12/1 bet365). A speedily-bred daughter of Equiano, she created a big impression when winning a Beverley maiden on her racecourse debut by four and a half lengths and looks an above average sort for the time of year who could well end up running in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot. She’d surely be a couple of points shorter if housed in one of the bigger stables.
15:30 Longines Irish Champions Weekend Fillies’ Stakes (Listed) (Registered As The Michael Seely 15:30 Memorial Stakes), 1m
The Jeremy Noseda-trained Nemoralia has at least 10lb in hand over her rivals on the ratings and her form, which includes a fast-finishing third at the Breeders’ Cup meeting, is there to see and she’s unsurprisingly a warm favourite at around the even money mark. However, she’s unlikely to be fully wound up for her reappearance, especially as she is destined for more globe-trotting adventures later in the season, and it’s also a concern that her trainer has yet to get a turf win on the board.
She has to be taken on at the odds and the obvious alternative is Sir Michael Stoute’s Thetis, who ended last term with a second in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes and is open to further improvement after just three starts. However, CZABO is a bigger price (6/1 Paddy Power) and Mick Channon’s filly has already had a run this term, that coming in the Esher Cup at Sandown (1m, good to soft) against male horses, where she stayed on nicely for a two and a quarter lengths success. She has some fancy entries, including the Irish 1000 Guineas, which shows the regard she is held in, and may well prove good enough this afternoon with fitness on her side.
16:05 Longines Irish Champions Weekend Fillies’ Stakes (Listed) (Registered As The Michael Seely 16:05 Memorial Stakes), 1m6f
A disappointing turnout of just six for Friday’s supposed highlight and it could be between FLYING OFFICER and Second Set, representing John Gosden and Luca Cumani, as the pair have a few pounds in hand of the others and they dominate the betting – 7/4 and 9/4 with bet365 respectively. The latter horse developed into a high-class performer over 1m4f last season, winning a Group 2 at Newmarket before landing an admittedly weak Group 1 in Germany, and later ran well to finish fourth in the Irish St Leger, his only try at this trip.
But the Gosden runner is also a Group 2 winner, that coming over 2m at Ascot on Champions’ Day, and he has the benefit of a run, a cracking third in the Sagaro Stakes back at that course. He looks the stronger stayer of the pair and, given he’s the only runner who has front-run in any of his recent starts, I wouldn’t be surprised if Frankie Dettori attempts to make all. He could prove hard to catch in that case.
Clever Cookie finished in front of the selection at Ascot but is worse off at the weitghts here and will struggle to confirm that form. Of the rest, David Simcock’s Curbyourenthusiasm is of most interest as he was a progressive handicapper last season and was impressive when winning over a similar trip at Doncaster on his final start. He needs to improve again, but has a potent turn of foot and a slowly-run race would play into his hands.