Our racing expert gives his verdict on the televised action from York.
2:20 5f Betfred “Supports Jack Berry House” Handicap (Class 2) (4yo+ 0-105)
Major Jumbo made all on his Newmarket reappearance under Nicola Currie, who is back on board and taking a handy 5lb off his back, and the four-year-old has been put in as favourite to follow up. However, this is more competitive and another concern is the ground (currently good to firm) as his last two wins have come on good to soft.
He’s opposable and of his 17 rivals the one I like most at the odds is Paul Midgley’s LINE OF REASON. He’s hard to fancy on what he’s been showing in recent starts but he has slipped down the weights and lines up here on a mark of 92. When you consider, he’s been as high as 111 and won off 100 under today’s pilot Oisin Murphy at Newcastle last June, it doesn’t take a genius to work out he’s well handicapped. The stable form is another big positive, with three stablemates obliging in the last week, and we get to back him (each-way if you like) at 12/1 with Paddy Power, who are paying out on five places.
2:55 1m2½f (1m2f56y) Betfred Middleton Stakes (Group 2) (Fillies & Mares) (Class 1) (4yo+)
John Gosden saddles the likely favourite CORONET and she has much the best form of these, having won the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot last season and then chasing home Arc heroine Enable in the Yorkshire Oaks here. Providing she’s fit enough on her return to action, she’s going to take all the beating and I’d expect Frankie Dettori to be positive on her from the off given she stays much further than this. She had just a neck to spare over main market rival Mori at the royal meeting and that horse has since had a wind operation. But that needs to have had a dramatic effect as she was very disappointing on her last two outings of 2017 and is best watched today. Her stablemate Smart Call finished third in last year’s renewal and could again make the frame.
3:30 1m2½f (1m2f56y) Betfred Dante Stakes (Group 2) (Class 1) (3yo)
The 2000 Guineas form is put to the test here with the fifth horse home at Newmarket, Roaring Lion, heading the betting. However, he’s not for me at the odds as he does have to prove his stamina for this far and is up against some seriously classy rivals, including stablemate Crossed Baton, the mount of Frankie Dettori and already twice a winner over this trip. He had the Ballydoyle pair James Cook and Zabriskie behind (fourth and sixth) in a Listed contest at Epsom last time and while both re-oppose today, it’s the former who is perhaps capable of significant improvement with Ryan Moore keeping the faith with him.
But Northern trainers have won three of the last five renewals and they are well represented here with Mark Johnston’s Mildenberger, a Listed winner at Newmarket (1m1f) on his return, and Tim Easterby’s unbeaten (2-2) WELLS FARHH GO. The latter horse looks the value of the pair, with 13/2 on offer at Hills, and I’m prepared to take a chance on his fitness given he has strong form on the Knavesmire having won twice over 7f here at two, including the Group 3 Acomb Stakes. He beat Greenham winner and Guineas seventh James Garfield on that occasion and his trainer then resisted the urge to run him in a Group 1 as he needed more time, as well as turning away several lucrative offers. That patience could well be rewarded this year and he’s clearly expected to relish stepping up in trip judging by entries in the Epsom Derby and Queen’s Vase (1m6f).
4:05 1m (7f192y) Betfred TV Hambleton Handicap (Class 2) (4yo+)
I wouldn’t care to rule any of these out with any real confidence, but AFAAK is less exposed than some and he probably needed the run more than the market suggested (he went off at just 6/1) on his reappearance in the Spring Cup at Newbury, where he finished midfield. Certainly, his narrow defeat by the subsequent Lincoln winner Addeybb in the Silver Cambridgeshire at Newmarket looks very strong form and he ‘did great over the winter’ according to his trainer Charlie Hills in a Stable Tour. At 8/1 with bet365, he’ll do for me.
All odds were correct at time of posting.