For the first time this summer fast ground looks the order of the day this weekend, and whilst next week’s major summer Festivals of Goodwood and Galway cast a slight shadow over events, there is still some cracking sport.
Godolphin’s Anjaz (2.05) has been well entered up in recent weeks but the slow ground has prevented her from making her belated seasonal reappearance, having landed both juvenile starts including a mile nursery at the Doncaster St Leger meeting. She must race from an 8lb higher mark today but is bred to appreciate the step up in trip to 10f and can maintain her unbeaten record in York’s opener. This is the time of year to side with 3-y-olds against their elders and the danger could be the similarly unexposed Hippy Hippy Shake with Kieren Fallon in the plate.
The ground wasn’t quite fast enough for Noble Citizen (2.35) at Ascot last weekend but as long as the thunder storms stay clear of York he must go close in the 7f handicap. Dimension has been made favourite in his last six starts including when failing to land a gamble in the Hunt Cup last time; he obviously shows more at home than he does on the track given he has been beaten in five of those six races and didn’t really suggest a return to 7f was the key at Ascot last time.
Afsare is likely to be all the rage for the Sky Bet York Stakes after his impressive success in the Listed Gal Stakes at Sandown earlier in the month but I am looking forward to seeing Planteur (3.10) back on fast ground; if he could reproduce the form of his Gp 1 Prix Ganay win on fast ground from last year when he had both Sarafina and Cirrus Des Aigles in behind he would be something to bet on and he is given one last chance for new handler Marco Botti.Sky Bet Stakes: betting from BetVictor;
Jet Away 11/2
At Ascot Maureen (3.25) must show she can cope with fast ground having looked a desperately unlucky loser in the Cherry Hinton at Newmarket last time when jockey Jimmy Fortune couldn’t extricate her from the rails in time; she is currently 20/1 with BetVictor for next years 1000 Guineas and must go very close in the Princess Margaret Stakes if she copes with the forecast fast ground.
William Haggas held high hopes for Diala (4.30) this season and it is possible she hasn’t trained on, but I am willing to forgive her latest run on soft ground at Warwick last time and she certainly caught my attention when landing her maiden at Newmarket last October although the form hasn’t exactly been upheld.
Priceless Jewel (3.20 Newmarket) is bred to go on soft ground so it was disappointing to see her disappoint at York last time off today’s mark; a winner of two of her previous three starts including on fast ground at Newbury as a juvenile she is taken to return to winning ways stepped back up to 7f.
On Sunday Ballyvesey (3.30) looks to have been given a cracking chance by the handicapper in the 3m Chase at Stratford in a very competitive handicap for the grade; Peter Bowen has his string in excellent shape and as long as the ground stays on the fast he must go close having run a cracker in the Summer National at Uttoxeter last time; a sound jumper he may require plenty of galvanising over a trip that could be on the sharp side but Denis O’Regan knows him well and he represents the weekend nap.