More terrific racing on the Knavesmire today but there is nothing straightforward about the opener (2.10). That said, there are a couple of horses in here that I want to keep on side, the first of which is Son Of Africa who is still a relatively lightly-raced horse for his age, for all that he was last in the Abernant on his comeback. He is now plying his trade in a more suitable grade and I’m fairly sure he has more to offer with that run under his belt.

The other horse that appeals to me, rather ironically, also finished last on his seasonal debut and that is Shamshon whose Wolverhampton run was quite eye-catching in the final analysis. It was his first run for the stable and the booking of Frankie Dettori this afternoon looks quite significant.

Roger Varian has made a very bright start with the horses he has acquired from Luca Cumani, owned by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, and I think he can strike again with Lady Of Dubai in the Middleton Stakes at 2.40. Last year’s Oaks third showed real Group One quality before her form tailed off, but the form she showed early in the season has left a lasting impression on me. Given she is bred to improve with age and this isn’t the strongest renewal of this race, I think she rates the value as things stand.

The Dante (3.15) is a race of some depth and I’m not convinced there is a standout even though Midterm has looked a very likeable horse so far. I think this race is ripe for a horse to step forward and for all that William Haggas’s horses haven’t been in sparkling form of late, I fancy that the trainer can come good where he loves it most – on the Knavesmire, with Victory Bond.

This horse doesn’t have the flashiest pedigree in the ace but he made a good impression at Ripon last time, backing up a solid effort at Newbury on debut, where he split Algometer and Rex Bell, form which puts him in the mix with the best of these, including Midterm. The trainer is not one to overtest his horses unnecessarily and certainly not one to squander handicap marks therefore he must be showing connections a good deal at home.

The final TV race, the Hambleton Stakes (3.45), is a typically impossible and competitive York handicap and it is really hard to try and find a horse who is ahead of the game here. However, I expect there is more to come from Express Himself who got stuck in the mud on seasonal debut and then looked a little unlucky last time. He is warming to his task slowly but surely and I can see this relatively lightly-raced five-year-old running a big race under Jim Crowley.
Victory Bond - 1pt e/w @ 16/1