Horse Racing: Frank Hickey’s ante-post preview for York & Newbury this weekend

A long-range forecast to try and find some value on the weekend's TV races.


Another bumper weekend of racing is on the horizon and I’m going to have a look at some of the better races on Saturday and Sunday and highlight some of the horses that are interesting in the ante-post markets.

Firstly, the weather forecast for the week is pretty decent, so we can expect ground on the faster side of good at York and Newbury come the weekend if the forecast holds true.

*All prices quoted are ante-post and prices & running plans can change at final declarations


14:30 Saturday – John Smith’s Cup @ York

The John Smith’s Cup at York on Saturday is probably the betting heat of the weekend and it is easy to see why. Last time out winners Solid Stone, Harrovian, Fifth Position and Desert Icon are at the head of the market as they are all relatively unexposed four year olds with more to offer.

There are two in here that catch the eye though, Sinjaari and Ed Walker’s Caradoc. Sinjaari ran well in some nice handicaps last year, including a close second to Headman in the London Gold Cup at Newbury and a good third at Goodwood behind Forest Of Dean. He did disappoint in the Old Rowley Cup when last seen in October, but has been gelded in the interim and is now on a mark of 95.

That would look a fair mark but the Haggas stable have Desert Icon in here too and Tom Marquand is jocked up, so it would look risky to get involved in Sanjaari at the ante-post stage. He is definitely one to take note of though if left in at the final declaration stage on Thursday morning.

Caradoc is extremely interesting on last year’s form. He needed his first start of the year at Newmarket but then won three of his next five starts in handicaps off marks of 86, 89 and 95 and really should have won at York over 1m 4f when a fast-finishing third.

His final win in a strong Newbury handicap was quite impressive and a strongly run 10 furlongs on decent ground is ideal for Caradoc who ran so well at York last season.

He caught the eye at Epsom when he said to have needed the run, making in-roads into the leaders from way off the pace. That effort can be upgraded. Caradoc does hold an entry on Sunday in the Steventon Stakes at Newbury but it would be quite surprising if connections forgo an opportunity to win a valuable handicap off a fair mark of 100 to wait for a Listed event with only £14,460 to the winner.

16:00 Saturday – Hackwood Stakes @ Newbury 

The Group 3 Hackwood Stakes is the highlight of Saturday’s card at Newbury and looks a tricky contest from an ante-post angle. Kevin Ryan’s Repartee looks interesting.

Placed in the Gimcrack Stakes last season and just touched off in the valuable two-year-old sales race at Doncaster, Repartee was well backed on his reappearance at Windsor in the Listed Carvarvon Stakes and was an impressive winner.

He was always travelling well and when pulled out for a run he quickened nicely and Andrea Atzeni just had to use the whip to keep Repartee straight. He would need to improve again to win this, but is capable of progressing and this contest is full of runners with something to prove.

The only negative is that he also holds an entry at York on Sunday, but we have priced him defensively and he is definitely one to be interested in if taking his chance at Newbury instead.


There are really interesting cards at York and Newbury on Sunday also, with a number of interesting races from an ante-post perspective.

14:30 Sunday – 5f Handicap @ York

A couple near the head of the market may not take their chance in this 5f sprint. Copper Knight will probably run in the City Walls Stakes as he won that race last year. Koncheck has an entry at Sandown on Thursday and would look more likely to head there while Meraas ran quite poorly at Newmarket on Saturday, so must rate a doubtful runner.

That is three of the first seven in the market that are unlikely to run, so there could be value in having a bet on A Momentofmadness for trainer Charlie Hills. He has only one entry this weekend and William Buick is jocked up already, so he should be a certain runner which is half the battle.

Buick has a decent record on him and he is now 2lbs lower than when second in the Portland at Doncaster at the tail end of last season. He didn’t run badly at York last season off a mark of 95 when beaten a length and a half behind Dakota Gold in a competitive handicap over an extended five furlongs. The decent weather forecast is no negative for this chance, he should go well for a yard that has had three winners from their last nine runners.

Charlie Hills

12:45 Sunday – York

Richard Hughes’ Brentford Hope has an entry at York in the 10 furlong novice stakes as he had a little setback early this season and is obviously ready to start back now. He was ultra-impressive when making a winning debut at Newmarket last season and that form is pretty decent, with the likes of Arthurian Flame, Damage Control and Bondi Sands all well beaten.

Those horses have been running well in handicaps this season and are now rated 87, 88 and 80 respectively, so Brentford Hope is very much well above average. I will be watching his reappearance very closely and he might yet be a dark horse for something like the St Leger.

14:50 Sunday – Weatherbys Super Sprint @ Newbury

The Weatherbys Super Sprint is more difficult than usual this year with much less form to go on than in a normal season. One that does stand out as being a fair price is Nelson Gay for Richard Hughes. Nelson Gay’s sire, Mehmas, has made a really decent start to his new career and has already bred some really speedy types, with Muker and Method two of the most impressive to date.

Nelson Gay was really well backed on debut at Yarmouth and connections may have been slightly disappointed when only third. It was a really strong contest, though. The winner, The Lir Jet, broke the course record and won the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot on his next start.

Enduring was fourth and won next time out, while the fifth Ocean Star was second to subsequent Listed winner Time Scale on her next start. The sixth won next time out also. Easier ground didn’t appear to suit when stepped up in grade in the Norfolk Stakes, but he got back on track when a very close third at Newbury over six furlongs.

He travelled well through the race, shaping like a strong pace in a big field, but being back over five furlongs on fast ground would really suit him. He should get all those conditions on Sunday and at those odds he looks worth chancing in what doesn’t look the strongest renewal of the race.


16:00 Sunday – Newbury – Themaxwecan

The Marsh Cup has thrown up two good winners since its inception in Stratum and Withhold but this doesn’t look as strong a renewal this year. Rajinsky would make appeal if taking his chance but that must be unlikely after having a tough race at Ascot last weekend when just touched off in second.

The one that looks to have decent claims here is the top weight Themaxwecan for Mark Johnston. Johnston can’t stop banging in the winners and the fact that James Doyle is jocked up already is a definite positive for Themaxwecan’s chance.

Last season he won two handicaps over two miles at Ascot off a mark of 93, and Goodwood off a mark of 98, before finding the test of the Cesarewitch too much for him. He shaped like he needed the run on his reappearance at Haydock, but was a big eyecatcher in the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot, racing wide all the way through and then meeting trouble in the straight, when Doyle had to snatch him up a couple of furlongs out.

He did stay on nicely for fourth but he may well have finished second with a clear run. He is 4lb better off with the second from that race, Selino, and there is every chance he can reverse that form.

He looks a dour stayer and the longer straight at Newbury should really suit. He is nearly double the price of the re-opposing Selino. That looks very fair.

*All prices quoted are ante-post and prices & running plans can change at final declarations

*The latest odds are bang up to date on our new bet widget

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