The John Smith's Cup is the Saturday feature at York and our resident tipster is sweet on the chances of a 20/1 shot.
Saturday’s congested fixture list is too much for some, but when it comes down to raceday it’s hard not to enjoy it all the same and even better if we can find a big-priced winner or two.
I’ve covered the action at Newmarket elsewhere on this site, so it’s York that comes under scrutiny here and I’m sweet on the chances of a 20/1 shot in the day’s feature, the John Smith’s Cup over 1m2f (due off 3.25pm).
It’s a hugely competitive renewal with 20 horses set to go to post, and bookmakers are going 7/1 the field. It’s just the sort of race I like to have a crack at and the one to back in my mind is Peter Chapple-Hyam’s VOICE OF A LEADER, who is a standout 20/1 with bet365, while Paddy Power are as short as 12/1.
The four-year-old is lightly-raced after just five starts and has clearly had his problems as he was confined to a single run last season, a next to last effort at Doncaster in November on unsuitable heavy ground. He’s way better than that judged on his maiden victory at Sandown at two, when beating some smart rivals by four and a half lengths, and an eye-catching run on his reappearance in a hot handicap over course and distance in May.
Sent off at 33/1 in a field of 18 and racing beyond 7f for the first time, he ran a blinder to finish fourth to Mahsoob, staying on nicely from the middle of the pack inside the final two furlongs. He’s entitled to come in considerably for that effort and has crept into this race amongst the bottom weights off his current rating of 97, which surely underestimates him.
One suspects he’s been saved for this since and I’m not going to be put off by his widest of all draw in stall 21. Much is made of having a low draw on the round course here, but nine of the last 11 winners were drawn 12 or higher and Farraaj defied box 22 in last year’s race.
He’s a couple of pounds better off with the York third First Flight, who finished a length and a quarter in front, and that horse ranks highly amongst the long list of dangers, while strong cases can be made for Mount Logan, the current favourite, Arab Dawn and Sennockian Star. The latter is perhaps feared most, but he’s half the price of the selection.
The proceeding John Smith’s City Walls Stakes over 5f (2.55pm) houses another good bet in the shape of the David O’Meara-trained OUT DO, who is better than he showed when fourth at Beverley last time. He’d been in cracking form prior to that run, including a course and distance success at the Dante meeting here in a fast time and finishing runner-up to Kingsgate Native at Haydock, a horse he meets on 4lb better terms this afternoon.
A reproduction of those efforts would suffice here and he looks certain to get the end-to-end gallop he needs overview this trip, which is something he didn’t get at Beverley last time. He looks equally effective over 5f or 6f, though his trainer reckons he’s best over the minimum and he can prove that point here, with odds of 11/2 looking more than fair.