Our horse racing expert Andy Holding has five tips for today's racing, including a NAP at York.
An eclectic mix of older, established staying handicappers up against two improving three-year-olds in this 1m4f contest and its one from the former category, DARK JEDI (best price 10-1), who makes the most appeal at the morning odds.
Representing a trainer who has already enjoyed a great meeting with Copper Knight and Cruyff Turn winning over the first two days, Tim Easterby’s gelding has more going for him than just stable form. A cracking fourth in last season’s John Smith’s Cup over today’s course, the five-year-old went on to better that result by finishing a creditable runner-up to Alfaatik in this corresponding race last year. Clearly suited by the galloping nature of the Knavesmire, the son of Kodiac arrives here in great shape following two positive results and now dropping back to his optimum trip having just failed to stay the 1m6f journey at Musselburgh last time, he should give a good account in his bid to go one place better than twelve months ago.
SAYF AL DAWLA (best price 13-8) created a very favourable impression on his debut at Ffos Las and with the anticipation of a good deal more to come granted just normal improvement, Peter Chapple-Hyam’s colt rates a confident choice to make it second time lucky.
Well-touted prior to his debut at Ffos Las a month ago, his position in the pre-race market took a severe knock when the son of Frankel was slowly away from the stalls, meaning he faced an almost impossible task from the get-go. Finding himself in an uncompromising position as the field turned for home, he made up the thick end of ten lengths on his two main market rivals in the home straight and although that effort only resulted in him finishing an honourable second, his closing sectionals strongly suggested he was by far and away the best horse in the race. Its good, therefore, to see the winner, Neenee’s Choice, go on to frank the form on his next start since and with the strong possibility today’s surface will really suit this deep-girthed and imposing colt, the expected big step forward in all aspects of his game will hopefully be enough to see him home.
LUSAIL (NAP) (best price 11-4) posted an extremely fast speed figure when capturing arguably the best juvenile contest of the season so far at Newmarket last time out and having already proven himself over today’s C&D earlier in the campaign, Richard Hannon’s colt can confirm his star status.
Unfancied for his debut here back in May, hence his 28-1 starting price, the son of Mehmas defied his position in the market with a performance of immense promise as he had to overcome a slow start and racing on the slowest part of the track away from where the main action developed. Clearly above-average on the evidence of than display, the classy colt has improved immeasurably since and following his only blip on his dance card on soft ground at Pontefract, he’s gone on to prove what a good horse he is on his last two starts at HQ. Making all to win over seven-furlongs the first time, he took the step up to Group 2 company in his stride on his return to the Cambridgeshire track and with the form of his gritty win in the July Stakes working out incredibly well subsequently (second and fourth both won at Group level), confidence is high he can fly the flag from that strongly-run affair 43 days on.
VISIONARIAN (best price 7-1) failed to see out the 2m7f journey at the Galway Festival last time out, but now back over a more suitable trip, Peter Fahey’s gelding has every chance of resuming winnings ways.
Given how strong he was in the finish when landing a keenly-contested 2m4f heat at Down Royal previously, you could see why connections rolled the dice over a longer trip at Ballybrit a month later. Having travelled well through the first part of the race, he looked one of the most likely winners as the field approached the second last, but once touching down the other side of the hurdle and hitting the rising ground, he failed to pick up as well as the eventual main players and he could only keep on at the one pace in fifth. However, considering that Grade B handicap 21 days ago was probably pound-for-pound one of the most competitive races of its kind all week, his performance certainly suggested he remains in top form. A real strong traveller and from a background consisting of many useful efforts over two miles, the drop back in trip shouldn’t be too much of a problem for this talented six-year-old and he makes loads of each-way appeal at his morning odds – especially with most firms offering four places.
DEJAME PASO (best price 17-2) ran out a ridiculously easy winner of a competitive handicap over today’s course last time out and this improving three-year-old looks to have bright prospects of completing his hat trick despite this being an altogether tougher assignment.
Since getting roughed up when failing in his bid to make all the running in the London Gold Cup at Newbury back in May, Andrew Balding’s gelding has improved immeasurably since adopting a more patient approach to his races. Coming through strong to claim some decent scalps at Sandown after being held up off the pace two starts ago, the son of The Gurkha enjoyed being ridden in similar fashion on his first visit to the Knavesmire last time out and even though the formbook says his victory was by two-and-a-half lengths, the truth of the matter is he could have won by treble that margin had he been pushed out to the line. Clearly a three-year-old thriving in his work at present, he also shapes like a strongly run mile will suit him even better and with his red-hot trainer already amongst the winners here this week, there’s every chance this imposing and smoothing-travelling colt can put his name on the honours board.