2:00 Queen Mother’s Cup Handicap (For Female Amateur Jockeys) 1m 3f 188yds
Arctic Fox won this in 2019 and was a good second last year for new connections. She looked as good as ever when not beaten far on her return at Chester, and looks to have been laid out for this race, which will be run to suit with several of her rivals regularly ridden up with the pace.
Richard Fahey trained the selection when she carried Sir Robert Ogden’s colours to success three years ago, and she again showed how well this track suits her when finding only the well-treated Nicholas T too strong 12 months ago.
She had one prior flat run prior to her good effort last year, and arrives here on the back of a similar preparation.
Fern O’Brien was most unlucky to lose a race in the stewards’ room at Cartmel last week, and has impressed as a rider in her short career to date – with Fergal as her father, she is born into racing, and there are no qualms about having her in the plate despite her relative inexperience.
Topanticipation was a maiden for some time, but has really clicked this year, winning both starts, including in a big field over course and distance last time, and Harry Eustace remains a trainer to keep on side, making her look the main threat to the selection, who should remain a backable price given her overall profile.
2:35 JCB Handicap 7f
Azano can’t beat Boardman based on their latest clash at Chester, but he had no chance after a slow start there, and will be fitter for the run. Trip and ground are fine, and he can outrun big odds with a talented 5lb claimer booked.
Winner of the Listed Guisborough Stakes at Redcar last term, he was out of his depth in the British Champions Sprint on his final outing, but remains on a workable mark for handicaps, while seven furlongs on fast ground appear to his ideal conditions.
This is a trappy contest, and I’m keen to be against Boardman, who very much had the run of things at Chester and now appears high in the weights.
3:05 Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Grand Cup Stakes (Listed) 1m 5f 188yds
Kemari needs to bounce back to his best to win this, but his stamina is assured, unlike some, and he ought to prove at least as good this term as he was when winning the Queen’s Vase a year ago.
He flopped here in the Great Voltigeur without obvious explanation, so there is a worry that the track might not suit, but he was soon back to form when second to Manobo in the Prix Chaudenay on his next start, and that is arguably the best single piece of form on offer in this contest.
3:40 Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap 6f
Plenty with chances, but Showtime Mahomes improved to win a similar race over the course and distance last month, and should again have a very strong pace to run at, so looks the one to be with under remarkably similar circumstances.
He is drawn on the opposite wing this time, but there again appears to be a lot of speed up the centre of the track, and that should see no advantage conferred in terms of the draw, while it will suit those who like to pounce late off a strong gallop.
The selection very much fits that mould, and while a little more is required to defy a rise in the weights, he appears capable of raising his game again.
1:40 Coral “Beaten-by-a-Length” Free Bet Handicap 1m 1f
Vee Sight will improve for a break and for the step up from 7f to 1m 1f. He’s been gelded since his final juvenile outing, and is the type to progress markedly this year having shown plenty of ability amidst inexperience as a juvenile.
The pick of his efforts came when a close fifth at Leicester, where he was drawn away from the principals, and was not at all knocked about when his winning chance had gone, finishing with running left and looking sure to be suited by a stiffer test.
He appeared to run a bit below form when fourth at Newmarket on his final start, but he was again poorly placed in relation to the pair who fought out the finish.
The first two were drawn 11 and 12 in a 12-runner race, whereas Vee Sight raced more towards the centre of the track before again keeping on well for hand riding in the latter stages to be beaten by six and a half lengths.
The winner hasn’t raced again, but the runner-up is now rated 102, and the race looks strong in hindsight.
Vee Sight was just behind 82-rated Nuvolari at Newmarket, and three lengths ahead of the 72-rated Fearless Bay, a winner next time.
Given that, the handicapper’s assessment of 74 for the unexposed Vee Sight looks very generous, and he can prove the point here.
2:15 Coral Play “Racing-Super-Series” For Free Handicap 1m
Via Serendipity won this race back in 2018 and retains all that ability, winning twice last term on turf. He was held up when below form last time, but has a chance to go forward here, and if ridden with more enterprise, is sure to go well.
When he won this contest, he actually led until passed by a hard puller after a couple of furlongs, regained the lead with three furlongs left, and won with a bit in hand. He’s now 1lb higher, but has the assistance of the excellent Harry Davies.
His draw is similar to when he won this, and there again is no obvious pace in the contest, so I’m hoping that Davies can simply pop out very handy and make the most of his stamina at the trip.
His latest run at Windsor saw him restrained in a small field, and such tactics are anathema to him. He is happy to take a lead, but requires a decent pace to show his best, and if he needs to set that himself, it is not a problem, as he’s shown.
2:50 Coral Scurry Stakes (Listed) 5f 10yds
Live In The Dream was hugely impressive over course and distance earlier in the year, and was far from disgraced against older horses in the Dash at Epsom. He is closely matched on form with Caturra, but is still improving, and looks the value call.
He was unable to dominate at Epsom, but still kept trying to the line, and he is ideally berthed in my view to dominate this smaller field.
Caturra is marginally the pick on ratings, but hasn’t grown a great deal from two to three, and lacks the physical scope of the selection, who is a powerful sprinting type on looks, and the type to keep getting better as he develops.
3:20 Extra Places Every Day At Betway Handicap 7f 127yds
Dirtyoldtown probably needs to lead to win, but he’s got the inside draw, and the speed to make the most of it. His second at Musselburgh was an excellent effort, and connections made the mistake of changing tactics at Haydock, which he hated.
He was just behind Spirit Catcher and ahead of Bullet Force when making most at Musselburgh on his previous start, and is weighted to come out best of the trio on that line of form.
I was surprised to see him a much bigger price than that pair in the early betting for this, and while the 33/1 proved elusive, he still appeals at anything north of 20/1, particularly with the draw looking to suit him better than his old rivals.
Vee Sight 1:40 Sandown – 1pt win @ 6/1 (Betfair, Paddy Power)
Via Serendipity 2:15 Sandown – 2pts win @ 10/1 (Bet365, 8/1 general)
Live In The Dream 2:50 Sandown – 1pt win @ 9/2 (general)
Azano 2:35 York – 1pt win @ 22/1 (Hills, Coral, Ladbrokes)
Showtime Mahomes 3:40 York – 1pt e/w @ 8/1 (SkyBet, Hills – 6 places)
Dirtyoldtown 3:20 Chester – 0.5pt e/w @ 22/1 (Betfair, Paddy Power – 4 places)
Rory’s recommended bets last week included Swilcan Bridge @ 7/1