What are the best bets at York on Wednesday?
The York Dante meeting arrives on the Knavesmire and here are my thoughts on this afternoon’s four Channel 4-televised races.
14:10 888sport Handicap, 1m2f88y
A competitive opener but it could pay to concentrate on the four-year-olds as that age group has supplied eight of the last 12 winners. This narrows the 14-runner field down to seven and they include the Ralph Beckett-trained top weight Pacify, who was a cracking second to Dark Red (a winner again since) on his reappearance at Epsom and should come on for that run. He must be thereabouts as should Kevin Ryan’s Erik The Red, who also finished second on his comeback run, finishing best of all over a mile at Haydock, and is sure to be suited by stepping back up in trip.
However, narrow preference is for Hugo Palmer’s SPANISH SQUEEZE (9/2 Sky Bet). A Kempton maiden winner at two, he has had his problems since and was restricted to just three runs last term, doing best when beaten a nose at Chelmsford in November. Now a four-year-old, he could be ready to make up for lost time with his trainer saying in a Stable Tour that he had been problem-free for a good while now and nominating this race as the gelding’s starting point. Newmarket-based trainers have supplied none of the last 11 winners and seven were running for the first time that season, so the selection ticks that particular box and his high draw in stall 12 can be seen as another positive – horses exiting from stalls one, two and three have a combined record of just 3-108 in course and distance handicaps with 14 runners or more. Just for good measure, Ryan Moore is booked to do the steering.
14:40 Infinity Tyres Handicap, 6f
A typically competitive sprint handicap for the track and the fact bookmakers go 13/2 ‘the field’ tells you it’s not going to be easy finding the winner. But it’s hard to resist a stab given the potential reward on offer and, after much toing and froing, I’ve landed on top weight GEORGE DRYDEN (8/1 bet365). He registered a personal best when beating 18 rivals over course and distance in September, before running well under his penalty in the Portland at Doncaster six days later. Gelded over the winter, he returned at Ripon 18 days ago and was possibly unlucky to score as he only narrowly failed to reel in the winner Avon Breeze after being short of room at a vital stage. On that evidence, he has improved again – the handicapper certainly thinks so as he’s raised him 4lb – and his trainer Ann Duffield continues in good form – she would be the tenth Yorkshire-based trainer to land this contest in the last 11 runnings. His draw in stall 11 (of 19) is okay too as the runners tend to come up the middle in races on the straight track here.
Of the rest, you have to respect Kevin Ryan-trained pair of Flaming Spear and Bogart, while See The Sun was a ready winner at Doncaster 11 days ago and has won over track and trip off a higher mark than today’s.
15:15 Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes (Group 2), 6f
MAGICAL MEMORY surprised me when winning on his reappearance at Newmarket (Tupi and Mattmu behind) as I thought he would need the run – so did his trainer Charlie Hills – and that has to be a good omen for the remainder of 2016. Last season’s Stewards’ Cup winner and Champions Sprint neck runner-up could go to the very top of the sprint division this term and this looks a great opportunity for him to follow up as his main market rival, Twilight Son, is up against it under a 5lb penalty and is likely to be short of peak fitness. His trainer Henry Candy confirmed as much in a recent Stable Tour, saying that the colt had put on a huge amount of weight over the winter and that he would have liked an extra week before York. He’s relatively easy to back at 4/1, whereas the selection is rock-solid at bet365’s 11/4 and may go off shorter.
A bigger danger then could be Mick Appleby’s Danzeno, who finished a length and a half behind Magical Memory at Ascot when last seen in October. A small dual forecast with the Hills’ runner looks the sensible cover bet.
15:45 Tattersalls Musidora Stakes (Fillies’ Group 3), 1m2f88y
John Gosden has supplied three of the last five winners and it’s odds-on that he makes that four from six with his SO MI DAR no bigger than 10/11 (Paddy Power) to follow up her success against the boys in the Epsom Derby trial (1m2f) on her reappearance. The form of that win could not have worked out better with the runner-up Humphrey Bogart going on to success in the Lingfield Derby Trial and the third Viren’s Army winning the Dee Stakes at Chester. That of course hasn’t escaped the notice of bookmakers who have her at around the 5/1 mark for the Epsom Classic in June, behind 1000 Guineas winner Minding at 11/10. That horse’s trainer Aidan O’Brien provides one of the main dangers here in the shape of Best In The World, a full sister to Found and sure to be a lot sharper for her reappearance fourth on unsuitably soft ground at Navan. You also have to respect the chances of the Guineas fourth Fireglow but I’m not looking past the Gosden filly, who is bred to be even better over this trip.