Mark Johnston has found York a frustrating track in recent seasons with his strike rate running at a paltry percentage compared to other venues, However, STARS OVER THE SEA (Best price 15-2) arrives at the Knavesmire in a rich vein of form and looks capable of boosting his record with victory in the opener. A creditable run at Goodwood behind subsequent winner Fire Fighting, when a selection of this column, preceded an emphatic Pontefract success where the five-year-old routed a small field in a rapid speed figure. If that level of form can be repeated then Stars Over The Sea has a live chance in the curtain raiser.
The British weather could have a say in conditions for this event with rain intermittently expected to hit York at lunchtime and through the afternoon. Significant precipitation wouldn’t help Quest For More’s chance here but it wouldn’t inconvenience CLEVER COOKIE (Best price 4-1) who bids to improve on last year’s fourth to Max Dynamite. A solid performance in the Ascot Gold Cup when dressed up with nowhere to go as the pace quickened signalled that the eight-year-old remains in good heart and he was previously a cosy winner at York back in May at the expense of Curbyourenthusiasm. The cheekpieces appear to have worked in concentrating Clever Cookie’s mind and he should give another good account in spite of his advancing years.
NEMORALIA (Best price 9-4) failed to make a great impact on the Prix Jean Prat last time, but she was far from disgraced and is worth supporting to take today’s drop in class in her stride. The classy Zelzal proved too good an adversary in France but Jeremy Noseda’s filly is arguably better judged on her fine run against her own sex in the Coronation Stakes when only Zelzal’s stablemate Qemah proved too strong. Connections will be relieved that trainer Jean-Claude Rouget doesn’t have a runner in this event and, with her affinity at the track already proven, Nemoralia could take some stopping providing conditions don’t become testing.
Underfoot conditions could also have a major bearing on this event with MECCA’S ANGEL (Best price 6-1) becoming a major player if the Knavesmire softens significantly. Last year’s heroine appears to be drawn on the right side of the track and should be able to draft behind the likely speed in Take Cover who looks sure to take the field along from stall 12. The selection was reportedly in season at Ascot in the King’s Stand Stakes when well beaten by Profitable but she bounced back to form in Ireland last time with a resounding defeat of Brando on good ground. Should the rain not arrive to let her take her chance then Profitable would have the edge over Limato, with Goldream a genuine threat to all on proper fast ground.
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