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There appears to be very little obvious pace in this 2m handicap hurdle and that could play into the hands of the Ben Pauling-trained charge NORTHERN BOUND.
More versatile tactically than his four rivals, the son of Fruits of Love landed a similar contest here over two furlongs further than this off a mark of 103, staying on strongly up the hill. I suspect that the underrated Kielan Woods may try and make the most of that guaranteed stamina here to kick on from the outset.
Off a 10lbs higher mark you couldn’t argue that he is well weighted, but all of his rivals come here with question marks against their names and a third win over timber from just the 11 outings looks on the cards if he takes the race by the scruff of the neck early on.
Top weight Pawpaw remains with potential and there was plenty to like about the four-year-old’s close-up second to Your Darling last time out at Huntingdon in a novice event.
A poor turn out for this £52,000-added contest, but there is still some strength in depth in the four-runner field with Ayr Gold Cup fancy and Steward’s Cup third, Great Ambassador sure to be strong in the market if the forecast showers miss the Knavesmire.
The four-year-old remains open to further improvement and his turn of foot could prove a vital asset if this race turns into a game of cat and mouse. Still, he has 8lbs to find on official ratings with the Shadwell Stud representative and that may prove too hot to handle.
You could reasonably argue that TABDEED has not fully lived up to the earlier promise of his brief two and three-year-old careers, when he was reportedly hard to train on account of him being a delicate sort. But, his overall form since the back end of 2020 still means that he is the form pick and by some way.
A repeat of either his 2020 success in the Hackwood Stakes over The Tin Man or indeed his close-up third to Happy Romance in this year’s renewal would probably be good enough to land a sixth career success, as long as the ground remains on the fast side of good.
There is sure to be plenty of pace on in this extended 2m handicap, with no less than two confirmed front runners and six pressers set to line-up. Master Milliner has been running well for Emma Lavelle this year and will relish a real stamina test, while the five-year-old Gold Arch remains unexposed over this trip and is well worth a second glance.
However, the value each-way play could well be the three-year-old ALPINE STROLL under the care of Ed de Giles. Despite being a maiden after 10 starts, the youngster has always looked as though a test of stamina would be his forte following strong running efforts over a mile-and-a-half on a sound surface.
Upped to 14 furlongs here last time out in the ultra-competitive Melrose Handicap, the bay colt was never going a yard after half a furlong, so that run can be safely consigned to the dust bin. It could well be that York is simply not his domain, but he is surely worth another chance off a 2lbs lower mark on the quicker ground that he relishes.
This finale at the Knavesmire is a competitive event for this Class Four level and at first glance I really liked the look of the lightly raced four-year-old Emaraty Hero following his smooth 2-and-a-half length success at Musselburgh last month.
A 3lbs penalty looks very fair and I make the Grant Tuer runner (stable in really good form) as the main danger to APRICOT MOON. The chestnut filly looked destined to be a smart handicapper up to a mile as a three-year-old, but lost her way badly in her third season.
Listed company was patently too tough for her on her comeback run in April, as was the Kensington Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in June when she finished well down that big field. In the four outings since that summer festival her mark has plummeted from 93 to 79, but judged on her last run over a mile-and-a-quarter at Windsor her turn looks to be just around the corner.
That day the Bated Breath filly was outpaced two-and-a-half furlongs out, but once she found her stride she really put it down inside the distance to be beaten a closing 4-and-a-quarter lengths by Prince of Hearts.
The breeding on her sire’s side suggests she will struggle to see out this extended trip for the first time, but there is a load more stamina on the other side of her blood line – out of a Smart Strike filly. This could just be the stamina test she has been crying out for.
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