As the regular readers of this blog will know, I’m a big of a fan of David O’Meara’s Lord Glitters. O’Meara loves nothing better than having winners at York but he has struggled on the Knavesmire this season, unbelievably he hasn’t had a winner as yet and before the grey lines up he has had 47 consecutive losers. That, of course, is completely irrelevant when weighing up Lord Glitters’ chances, but as well as he has been running I just think he’s better with cut in the ground. Narrowly beaten in the Queen Anne, Summer Mile and Sussex Stakes, he is the form horse but he faces an extra furlong here and I just wonder if they’ll go quick enough for him.
Instead, it might be worth siding with last year’s winner MUSTASHRY for Sir Michael Stoute. He’s had his issues but speaking to racing manager Angus Gold earlier in the week he seemed to think they had been ironed out and that he would take a good bit of beating.
With no Expert Eye running the way appears to have been left clear for BEAT THE BANK to add another victory. He brings the best form into the race having beaten Lord Glitters in the Summer Mile and wasn’t beaten far in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
It was thought that he needed soft ground to be seen at his best but he debunked that theory when winning at Ascot. He does carry a penalty for his Group Two win but he faces a field of largely exposed milers.
Roger Varian’s Alytn Orda is seen as the biggest threat having been second in a Group One last time out but that was to Alpha Centauri in the Falmouth when it was a case of the winner first and the rest nowhere. Arod has tended to come up short at this level and is now seven so the biggest threat may be Zonderland, who is undoubtedly talented but needs things to fall right.
The Melrose looks a cracking race. I genuinely could not rule any runner out with any confidence. Corgi deserves to land a big pot having gone close at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood. Making Miracles was an easy winner at Haydock and went close of his revised mark while recent winners Berkshire Blue and Shuhood are big players, too. I also wouldn’t rule out Proschema off top weigh as I remained convinced there’s a nice prize in him.
However, I’m looking at the bottom of the weights and William Haggas’ filly HEART OF GRACE. Basically, she’s only had three runs so will surely be rated a lot higher than the 81 she gets to run off here. A winner on debut she was disappointing under a penalty at Kempton but that race has worked out great with Pilaster winning and Galmarley second. She got her career back on track last time in a little race at Lingfield and Haggas has put cheekpieces on, suggesting he thinks there is more in the locker.
The Group Three Prestige Stakes looks a good renewal this year. Andrew Balding’s Look Around was very impressive making all in a Listed race last time out and brings the strongest form given the third, La Pelosa, finished second in the Sweet Solera. I fancied Ralph Beckett’s Antonia De Vega last week at Newbury but I have a feeling this race will take more winning. Mark Johnston’s Accordance is bred to be good indeed but there was a lot to like about MAGNETIC CHARM at Newbury for that man Haggas again. Owned by the Queen, Magnetic Charm fairly bolted up on her second start and the second was an easy winner herself earlier this week, albeit at Brighton. As a half-sister to the top-class Usherette, she should have no trouble with an extra furlong.
It is very difficult to see beyond EXPERT EYE winning this if the same horse who turned up at Royal Ascot and Goodwood is in the house. He runs here having looked like heading to Goodwood all week for a Group Two yet amazingly this Group Three is worth a good bit more (£32,000). It does mean he carries 3lb more than the other three-year-olds having won the Jersey Stakes but he looked a Group One horse, that he threatened to be, at Royal Ascot. He lost little in defeat, I felt, at Goodwood, when second to Lightning Spear and it is hard to see anything that runs in this being good enough to do that. He appears to be as good at seven furlongs or a mile and the biggest threat is David O’Meara’s Suedois.
It would be some achievement from Burnt Sugar to win three major seven-furlong handicaps on the bounce and stall 20 makes it even trickier, but I wouldn’t put it past Roger Fell’s charge. I think David Baron’s DANIELSFLYER must have a chance having gone close at Galway last time out. Those handicaps there are every bit as competitive as the big ones here and Baron has retained the services of Oisin Orr. Drawn in 15 life will be tricky, though, so it might be worth backing Ian Williams’ ACES, too. The lightly-raced six-year-old is only 2lb higher than when winning at Newmarket and left the impression there was still plenty more to come.
We have already witnessed one piece of history at York this week when the amazing Mark Johnston became the most successful trainer ever and I think there’s every chance NAKEETA can become just the second ever dual winner of the Ebor. Whereas last year Nakeeta was at his peak in May for the Chester Cup, I think Iain Jardine has taken the more conservative route this year with a return trip to Melbourne on his mind. He ran a lovely race when behind Stratum at Newbury and we know he loves York. He’s only 4lb higher than last year but on his fifth in Melbourne, I think we can say he might still be well handicapped. I simply can’t see him being out of the frame.
Teodoro and My Reward should ensure a good gallop and that will play into the hands of Willie Mullins pair and while it is annoying his price has been coming down all week, I think WHISKEY SOUR is also worth having on side. I don’t think he stayed when favourite for the Ascot Stakes but this classy dual-purpose performer should be more at home over this trip.
Nick’s Best Bets:
Mustashry – 1:50 York
Beat The Bank – 2:05 Goodwood
Heart of Grace – 2:25 York
Magnetic Charm – 2:40 Goodwood
Expert Eye – 3:00 York
Danielsflyer & Aces – 3:15 Goodwood
Nakeeta & Whiskey Sour – 3:40 York