Our racing expert gives his verdict on the televised action.
1:50 1m1f (1m177y) Sky Bet And Symphony Group Strensall Stakes (Group 3) (Class 1) (3yo+)
Last year’s winner Mustashry has clearly been trained with a repeat in mind, warming up for this with a Listed success over 1m2f at Sandown on his reappearance, and he should make a bold bid to defend his crown. He’s much preferred to stablemate Zaaki and Threading, who has disappointed the last twice, but LORD GLITTERS is nicely clear of these on the ratings and could prove a class above.
A smart handicapper last term, he has taken his form to another level in 2018, showing his narrow Queen Anne defeat to be no fluke when beaten a neck in a Group 2 at Ascot and, most recently, filling third spot in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes behind Lightning Spear. Given how strongly he finished that Goodwood contest, he should have no trouble with today’s extra furlong and, now dropping down in grade, he can give his trainer David O’Meara a third success in the last five years.
Of the rest, Golden Mile winner Seniority is up in class here but is respected nonetheless.
2:25 1m6f (1m5f188y) Sky Bet Melrose Handicap (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (3yo 0-105)
Supernova looks one of the more likely winners of what is a typically wide open renewal having won well on his handicap debut at Doncaster (1m4f) last month, despite still looking green and losing his right fore shoe.
But bookmakers are hardly giving him away at around the 5/1 mark, especially as he has his stamina to prove, and BLUE LAUREATE is preferred at over four times his price. Ian Williams’ charge has really found himself since being upped to 1m4f, including when beaten just a head by the re-opposing Berkshire Blue in the Shergar Cup on his most recent start. The way he was staying on right the way to the line to only just miss out, suggests he can get the revenge on the winner here and he might prove better than a 89-rated handicapper now that his stamina can be fully exploited.
Of the remainder, Heart Of Grace is open to any amount of improvement after just three starts and sneaks in off bottom weight, although she lacks experience for a race of this nature.
3:00 7f Sky Bet City Of York Stakes (Group 3) (Class 1) (3yo+)
Most of these are relatively exposed whereas EXPERT EYE continues to give the impression he has more to offer having been nurtured back to peak form by Sir Michael Stoute. A convincing winner of a Group 2 as a juvenile before disappointing in the Dewhurst on his final outing of 2017, he finally showed his true colours again when powering clear in the Jersey Stakes (7f) at Royal Ascot. A slowly run race was against him when he beat all bar Lightning Spear in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes last time, which confirmed his ability at the highest level. While it’s a slight concern he has never raced at York and has a 3lb penalty to carry, he really ought to outclass this field before a return to the top table later in the season.
Last year’s close third Suedois has loads of smart form since, including a short-head second in a Group 2 on his latest start, and that makes him the main danger.
3:40 1m6f (1m5f188y) Sky Bet Ebor Handicap (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (4yo+)
This hugely valuable handicap is at the mercy of Stratum according to bookmakers who agree on making Willie Mullins’ five-year-old favourite at around the 7/2 mark. That’s quite understandable as he hacked up at Newbury last time, in a race that is working out, and a subsequent 8lb is fair given that he won with a ton in hand. But he’s hardly value at that price and when you consider the shocking record of favourites – just one has won since 1998 – and his low draw in stall four – only Litigant in 2015 has defied a single-figure draw since 2004 – I have to look elsewhere for the winner.
It’s a shame that BLAKENEY POINT has an even worse draw in stall two as he has a very attractive profile and looks to have been laid out for this by his trainer Roger Charlton, who will have a good idea of where he stands with some of these stayers having won the Cesarewitch and Northumberland Plate with Withold. He’s leaving nothing to chance by applying blinkers for the first time and if any jockey can find a safe passage through the field it’s Jamie Spencer, so I’m not going to put anyone off backing him at Betfair’s 10/1
But it makes sense to go in double-handed and last year’s winner NAKEETA must have every chance of staging a repeat. Iain Jardine’s charge showed a tremendous attitude 12 months ago to get the better of the favourite Flymetothestars in a driving finish (the pair clear) and showed his versatility when finishing fifth (of 23) in the Melbourne Cup on his next outing. He hasn’t reached the same heights in three runs this term but he shaped as though coming to hand at Newbury last time and while he’s 4lb higher in the weights this time round, most of that is taken care of by the claim of talented apprentice Callum Rodriguez. His high draw in stall 15 clinches the bet and if you decide to back just one horse I’d suggest this fellow, each-way of course and at Paddy Power’s 11/1 as they are paying out on six places.
York 1.55, Lord Glitters @ 15/8 Hills
York 2.25, Blue Laureate each-way @ 22/1 bet365 (1/4 odds, 184.108.40.206)
York 3.00, Expert Eye @ 11/8 bet365
York 3.40, Blakeney Point @ 10/1 Betfair/ Nakeeta each-way @ 11/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds, 220.127.116.11.5.6)
All odds were correct at time of posting.