It’s official, well at least on my private ratings anyway, Battaash is a 5lbs better horse at York than he is at Ascot.
And yes, I know he was only beaten a length and a quarter by Blue Point in last year’s renewal, half a length further in 2018, but when this bull of a horse has to be restrained to get the trip over this stiff 5 furlongs at the Berkshire track he remains vulnerable in the closing half a furlong up the final climb.
Furthermore, at the price he certainly isn’t my kind of wager. All the juice has been taken out of Sceptical’s price following his win in the Woodlands Stakes, but boy he was mightily impressive.
Meanwhile, Kevin Ryan’s Glass Slippers also remains on the upgrade. However, I fancy a massive run from KURIOUS after he made great strides last back end.
A win in the Listed Scurry Stakes at Sandown was achieved despite the testing ground, but his subsequent success in the Group Three Coral Charge over the same course and distance showed his class on a quicker surface.
That was a career best effort from the son of former high-class Aussie sprinter Kuroshio and I fancy there is a lot more left in the tank, as their needs to be, if he is to make his mark here. I will take that chance at the price.
Ever since I became interested in racing, this mile and a quarter Group One event has fascinated me. It’s roll call of winners is superb with the mighty Stanerra (1983) and Mtoto (84 and 85) both outstanding winners.
Of course Bosra Sham, Dubai Millennium, Fantastic Light and Ouija Board are right up there with the best alongside last year’s hero Crystal Ocean.
This year’s renewal looks at the mercy of JAPAN, and before you start berating me for ignoring the similarly priced favourite in the King’s Stand Stakes 24 hours earlier, I believe we could be looking at the mile and a quarter king for this season.
To my eyes he won the International at York despite not everything going his way and still looking on the weak side as a three-year-old as well.
I know he has filled out and strengthened up massively through the winter and I will be hugely surprised if the likes of Barney Roy and Headman are good enough to beat him.
Nayef Road has put a marker down for the season with his game success in the Sagaro Stakes at Newcastle, but I have always thought stable mate Sir Ron Priestley (ahead of him and staying on strongly in the St Leger) was a significantly better horse with plenty of scope to progress again this season.
However, my news from the stable is that he had a minor setback and may not be quite ready in time and I suspect the Goodwood and Doncaster Cups – the latter trip set to suit him better – will be his main aims for the season.
Understandably, the big two in the betting are the Champions Long Distance 1-2, Kew Gardens and Stradivarius. Both were certainly inconvenienced by the ground that day and yet they still readily pulled 5 lengths clear of the third.
On a faster surface I think ‘Strad’, with a cracking run under his belt deserves to be favourite, but many of you may think that the price is a wee bit tight. With a fair weather forecast, Technician is unlikely to run, which means I shall be going in each-way on last year’s third DEE EX BEE.
I thought SDS didn’t utilise his guaranteed stamina to the full 12 months ago, by not pushing on from Swinley Bottom and he was essentially outpaced two furlongs out before closing on the winner 100 yards out.
Setting faster fractions could have his rivals in trouble some way out and under such circumstances I think he will be placed again at the very least and looks a tasty play in my book.
The last two days offer the two most open feature races and this newly instituted race to find the champion three-year-old sprinter looks a difficult puzzle to solve.
I was hugely taken by the winning run of Pierre Lapin in the Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury and his action lends itself to the current top of the ground going description. He is sure to make up into a much better three-year-old along with the likes of Kimari and Golden Horde.
There is a question mark over Mums Tipple after his too bad to be true run in the 2,000 Guineas so EARTHLIGHT (conqueror of Golden Horde in last year’s Middle Park) could be the answer.
We simply don’t know how good Andre Fabre’s charge is as he only just does enough to win in his races to date and the straight six lends itself to his running style up the final climb.
Time may suggest otherwise, but I think this year’s renewal is far from being the best in recent years, but that in turn means we have a hugely open market to take advantage of.
Irish challenger Sceptical pitches up with a big reputation after a smooth win at Naas, while Space Blues needs to improve by about 6lbs on my private ratings on his Haydock win to trouble the likes of HELLO YOUMZAIN and the enigmatic Khaadem.
The former looked a bit unlucky in last year’s Commonwealth Cup after missing the kick and jinking as he came under pressure two furlongs out and duly stepped up on that run when dominating the Sprint Cup.
The weather forecast should favour Khaadem who has twice floundered in soft ground, but whose success in the Stewards Cup off a mark of 107 was scintillating.
* Some prices are quoted at ‘ante-post’ odds. All prices are subject to change.
Tuesday 15:35 King’s Stand Stakes – Kurious
Wednesday 15:00 Prince of Wales’s Stakes – Japan
Thursday 15:35 Ascot Gold Cup – Dee Ex Bee
Friday 15:00 Commonwealth Cup – Earthlight
Saturday 15:35 Diamond Jubilee Stakes – Hello Youmzain
- Ruby Walsh: Irish racing has done its best to make up for lost time
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