Horse Racing tips: Your best value bets at York this weekend

PJ is all over the action including Friday's Nunthorpe Stakes and Saturday's Ebor Handicap on the Knavesmire.

Paul Jacobs


* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.


Friday 13:50 – Throne Hall

Wink Of An Eye has been in brilliant form of late for William Haggas and completed a quick fire four-timer with a game success over State of Bliss at Goodwood off a mark of 87, having started his run off 70. A rating of 91 in a better race requires much more, and his victim is weighted to reverse that form in no uncertain terms. Haggas  is on fire though, and loves a winner at the Knavesmire. it will be close between the pair.

THRONE HALL could well be the value against the two of them though. His second to the classy Ilaraab reads very well in the context of this race, and his two outings since when down the field at Ascot and Newmarket can be readily excused because of the very quick ground, as well as the trip of a mile-and-three-quarters.

Dropped back down to 98 by the assessor, he could readily return to that course and distance form from May, as long as there is no sting in the surface. Of the remaining runners in what is a hotly contested heat, Winter Reprise could well be worth an each-way saver as he has little to find at the weights with Johnny Drama on John Smith’s Cup form. That run is worth upgrading as he ran very freely through the first quarter mile.

Friday 15:35 – Arecibo (Each Way)

This year’s renewal of the Nunthorpe Stakes looks a cracker even in the absence of Battaash. The King George Stakes at Goodwood looks an obvious starting point in order to unravel this Group One event, in a race won in superb style by Suesa – with Dragon Symbol (second), Arecibo (fourth) and Liberty Beach back in 10th spot.

Add in the American raider Golden Pal, as well as Listed course and distance winner Winter Power and we have a real race. Having not had the best of passages at Goodwood, I reckon there is every chance that Dragon Symbol can reverse that form with the French runner Suesa. He certainly deserves to land a big one having been demoted in the Commonwealth Cup and edged out by the superb Starman in the July Cup at Newmarket.

I actually don’t believe that ARECIBO has an outstanding chance of winning this prestigious prize, but at the  prices, he could readily hit the frame. Think about it, all the other runners I have mentioned will be gunning to win the race and are half the price or less of the Robert Cowell runner. We know the selection has to be held up in an exaggerated manner and will be nursed through the race to possibly be the last one to come under pressure, while a few of these will be at full tilt much earlier in the race.

Make no bones about it, Dragon Symbol is the most likely winner, but a place at likely odds for Arecibo may reward you with a bigger profit – particularly if the ground is good. He could also be worth including in a forecast bet with the Archie Watson trained three-year-old too.

York Races Ebor Festival

Saturday 14:25 – Dhushan

With the William Haggas stable in searing-hot form and his record in the big handicaps at the Knavesmire – in particular this Melrose Stakes – this son of Sea The Stars has an outstanding chance of landing this 1m 6f handicap for three-year-olds before taking on better-class rivals for some black type towards the end of the year.

A winner of two of his five starts, DHUSHAN would have been three last time out had he not raced with the choke out for a fair way, and the further this youngster has gone the better he has looked. To be fair to him, the slack pace at the Berkshire track was very much against him, but, with an end-to-end gallop almost guaranteed here, I expect another big step forward.

With a mixed forecast on Friday and Saturday, his ability to handle all surfaces is a huge plus. He can follow up the stable victory from Hamish last year at the main expense of Imperial Sun and Oman.


Saturday 15:35 – Mirann and Mt Leinster

One of the great betting races of the year, but with a completely different shape to years gone by with no three-year-olds once again set to line-up. Gone are the days when an unexposed youngster could go under the radar and land a huge gamble.

Willie Mullins initially entered a big team for this valuable event, but MT LEINSTER is his only representative. The fact that he has not raced for 10 months is of no consequence for me, as he has a cracking record (three from four) when fresh and remains unexposed on the Flat.

His last run saw him bolt home in the amateur rider’s Derby at the Curragh off 97, and a new mark of 105 should see him sneak into the line-up. If there is any more rain then it would certainly aid his cause, and I could see him being one of the gambles of the race under such conditions.

By the way another of Willie’s initial entries was M C Muldoon, put him at the forefront of your mind for the Cesarewitch, that is his ultimate aim I was told.

Still available at nice odds Mt Leinster looks a solid play, but I want to back him up with another Irish raider in the form of MIRANN.

I know that he is barely bigger in the market than my first choice, but I was hugely impressed by his eye-catching run at Royal Ascot in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap. However, I was even more taken last time out when he wasn’t given too hard a time stepped back to a mile-and-a-quarter in a valuable Premier handicap at the Curragh.

Ben Coen couldn’t hold onto the son of Motivator in the early stages and he took quite a hold, it is credit to the horse’s ability that he managed to hit the frame after meeting trouble at the quarter mile pole and looked like dropping away. However, Mirann picked up again in fine style and now looks ready for his first shot at an extended mile-and-three-quarters.

He has run over 13 furlongs before, way back at the Curragh and Leopardstow, and on each occasion was outpaced in moderately run contests. If we get an end-to-end gallop here I can see him readily putting up a career best, as he must do to be involved. Adam Kirby takes over in the saddle, which is a plus. 


Saturday 16:10 – Mitbaahy

The Roses Stakes has traditionally been a haven for useful two-year-olds that are lodged in the precocious bracket, don’t see out a sixth furlong, and are just shy of the best juvenile races of the season. Cue Roger Varian’s runner MITBAAHY, who was initially campaigned over 6 furlongs, but simply ran too free and was green when showing enough promise at Newbury and Haydock Park.

But back down to the minimum trip at Thirsk, he finally showed his true colours when losing that maiden tag in impressive fashion. I know that the yard thought he could sign in an awful lot higher up the juvenile ladder, but this fast 5 furlongs at the Knavesmire looks perfect for him with his naturally high cruising speed.

The son of Profitable will probably need to improve in the region of 7-10lbs to be involved here, but now that he has been found his optimum conditions that is certainly not out of the question for this natural speedster. He could very well bridge the gap with the likes of Anadora and St Hugh’s Stakes’ runner-up Attagirl.

Saturday 16:45 – Strait Of Hormuz

This extended mile and a quarter handicap is the best betting race of the day and is a kind of down graded John Smith’s Cup. Top weight Sinjarri won that big July handicap 12 months ago, but the assessor has been slow to back down with him and the top weight still remains on a 10lbs higher mark.

Migration absolutely dotted up at Glorious Goodwood and his chance probably hinges on the forecast rains hitting the spot earlier in the day, changing the going to good to soft or preferably even more testing. He showed a rapid turn of foot that afternoon on the Sussex Downs in deep ground and will need the heavens to open again to defy an 8lbs penalty in a significantly better race. If the going does change significantly then he must be backed as a saver to your stake on the selection at the very least.

This race has been the aim again for a long time for the 2020 winner Lucander and he is only a pound higher than when pouncing late to deny Sky Defender 12 months ago, and a positive market move would obviously make him of huge interest here, despite several poor performances this campaign.

But, the value each-way call here has to be the Jedd O’Keefe-trained STRAITS OF HORMUZ following his superb third in the aforementioned John Smiths Cup last month. On that occasion the field didn’t really go a break neck pace and his young rider had trouble restraining his charge in rear as he fought for his head.

However, once push came to shove, the four-year-old picked up in impressive fashion and was only a closing neck behind Johnny Drama at the line. Had he settled better there is little doubt in my mind that he would have prevailed and, although a higher mark requires more, there looks to be some natural pace up top here which should enable him to settle better.

In contrast to Migration and several others in the field, he would not want too much rain. However, if the showers do miss the Knavesmire, he looks a rock solid each-way play under the positive booking of Andrea Atzeni in the saddle.

Paul Jacobs’ best bets:

Friday 13:50  Throne Hall
Friday 15:35 – Arecibo (Each Way)
Saturday 14:25 – Dhushan
Saturday 15:35 Mt Leinster and Mirann
Saturday 16:10 – Mitbaahy
Saturday 16:45 – 
Strait Of Hormuz

* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.




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