Showboating was yet another to go so close for us and if it wasn't so gutting, it would be slightly comical. This time it was little more than a nose, but he ran a cracker in defeat and would have surely got his head in-front if it wasn't for being held up so far back, though we knew those tactics were likely to be employed. It was an extremely good performance to get so close at a track that often favours those on the pace and adds further proof to the theory that a flat, straight 6-furlongs on quick ground is what he wants to be at his best. There's a nice handicap to be won with him, as he's still progressing and this was a career-best I'm sure. Keep him in mind when he's racing in a big field, where race-pace is assured and leads to seeing him flash home late on, just as he did this time. Sadly, it was not enough. Sean Levey was very good too.
-1.00pts on the day. Form of last 10 selections; 1-8-4-8-0-2-3-2-8-3 (1 winner & 4 places).
Hectic stuff today. We can only get two selections between Monday and Friday, then five pop up for today. After our hilarious bad luck of late, it'd be lovely to bang in a winner or two, and here's hoping that we do exactly that. There's nothing to be overly confident with though, due to the big fields coming out to play but they all should have a chance and more importantly, are overpriced to win. Best of luck & fingers crossed.
The market leaders are far too short for my liking here and Bridge Of Gold appeals as a lively contender under what look to be ideal conditions. Usually siding with a 102-rated animal in a handicap wouldn't be my thing, as most are likely to have little room for movement with their ratings, but Mikael Magnusson's charge is a Group 3 performer when getting his conditions and it wouldn't be overly surprising to see him outclass this lot with relative ease. Getting him to do that is another thing, but connections have acquired the skills of Richard Hughes to ride and he's on fire of late, along with being a very rare booking for the yard. He's riding a 6-year-old, but this is by no means an exposed horse, having lined up to race on just 12 occasions throughout his career. There's no doubting that he has had his problems, but he has still run some cracking races, including when a close third in the 2010 Ebor (off 101) and when runner-up in a Group 3 at Newbury last year (when I tipped him). Another tilt at the Ebor looks to be on the cards again, which makes me a bit worried as to whether connections will want their charge to go up the ratings. There should be no excuses for him here though, with a decent race-pace likely and fast ground being hugely in his favour. He's also taking his racing better this year, with this being his fourth outing and it's only the first one on his favoured ground. Plenty of promise was there to be had from two of the runs (outclassed and outstayed in Ascot Gold Cup last time) and he should be coming to hand now. With doubts to be had over the opposition, taking a decent price about this fellow getting back on track looks a worthwhile venture and the usual stakes should be played. Address Unknown would be of interest but is a bit short in the market.
Avoiding Michael Hills is something that I always try to do, but White Frost is a horse with plenty of ability and if he's given the chance to run to his best, then he will be troubling the judge here. This Charles Hills trained 4-year-old has showed next to nothing on his three outings so far this season, but they're all rather forgiveable from where I'm sitting and there will come a day when everything pans out to suit him, which I am hoping will be now. We supported him on his penultimate start, which came over C&D, and, stupidly, I was counting the cash in my head when he was smashed in the betting on-course. All of the money went astray, as he had to be held up in rear and the track was again favouring those who were on the pace, so he predictably failed to land any sort of blow. His last time out run was less forgiveable, but he didn't give best on his previous two visits to Ascot and maybe it's just a case that he doesn't like it there. When I had originally selected him, it was because I thought that going around a bend would suit him more than the straight courses do and although it's a theory yet to be proven, I still believe it to be true. They are going to have to ride him prominently if he's to win this, but it looks like he'll have every chance to do so from what is a nice enough draw in stall 7 and here's hoping for no silly antics. The handicapper is giving the horse every chance, as he's now back to his last (impressive) winning mark and on his day he's a mid-nineties horse. With a bit of fortune and getting a race run to suit, he should go well and have a say in proceedings.
It's entirely possible that I've gone mental but Dancing Freddy looks incorrectly priced, as he often is, and taking a chance on him causing a big surprise in this valuable sprint handicap looks worthwhile. Richard Guest's 5-year-old really is an incredible animal, having lined up on 72 outings since making his debut in April of '09 and he has found even more improvement on the turf this season. Despite being on the road constantly for God knows how long, he was good enough to get two handicap wins this season already, one off 80 and the other off 87. It's the latter win that interests me the most, because you would not think that this fellow would be overly suited to 5f around York but he still managed to produce a career-best by scoring in a similarly competitive race. Actually, it was a bit easier than this but not a whole pile and he showed just how good he is when getting a race run to suit. For that to happen, he needs to be tracking a rapid pace over 5f on quick ground and he will almost certainly get the opportunity to do that today, unless connections crazily decide to change his running style. They were forced to make him set the fractions in a similar C&D handicap last time out, when he wasn't favoured by the draw and had to toe the small group along, which wasn't ideal. He stuck to the task gamely when headed and shaped as if still being right at the top of his game, despite the bare reading of the form suggesting that he wasn't. His sit in stall seven looks absolutely ideal given how this race will pan out and if William Carson can position him in behind the early pace, then I'm fairly sure that he'll have every chance of showing his best. The question is just whether his best is good enough and whilst it may not be, at the current price, I'm more than happy to find out. He's a completely silly price in my opinion, though maybe it'll be justified after the race. Hopefully not.
It's hard to gauge what effect the draw will have here and assuming it doesn't hinder Farlow, then he will be bang there in the mix. Ralph Beckett's yard seem bang in form at the moment and he makes the long journey to York in order to run just two, the other I wouldn't give much of a chance to. This course has not been a happy hunting ground for the yard down the years, with just 2 victories from a total of 49 runners. However, they've had 9 seconds at the track and are surely due a change in fortune, exactly like us. This 4-year-old gelding looks just the type to relish a truly run 6f around here and with ground conditions being in his favour, unlike at Ascot last time out, he should be up to running a big race. He ran a fine race at Ascot in truth, setting off on the pace before trying to quicken from the front and being unable to do so. They just weren't going hard enough for him to be seen at his best there and he was out-sprinted by horses with a better ability to quicken up on the ground. Previous to that, he ran great races on his only two turf outings of the season. First winning over 6f at Doncaster on slowish ground (favoured by run of the race), then just failed to stay strongly enough over 7f at Haydock. Both efforts showed that he can defy his current rating of 90 and the fact that he's back to 6f on quick ground is a huge positive in my book. Jim Crowley missing the ride is a negative (think he's banned) but Martin Lane has an excellent record when riding for the yard and he's an able deputy, one that isn't given as many good rides as he possibly should. I'm hoping that they jump out well, track the pace and then try to kick for home over a furlong out, as the gelding clearly gets this trip very strongly and there's no point in giving the nippier types an advantage. Whether he'll have the chance to do so from his sit in stall 19 is a worry but his price is generous enough and he's worthy of support. If this fellow can't win another nice handicap by the end of the season, then I'll be very surprised. Hopefully it'll be now, as he doesn't have many excuses and there's a lack of well-handicapped runners.
The John Quinn trained and Nick Luck part-owned Hawk Mountain is usually one to keep in mind when running at York, with his C&D form reading 2-2-4-0-1-2-3-4, and another big run looks to be on the cards off what is an attractive handicap mark of 83. This 7-year-old is now 7lbs lower than when he was third in this contest last year, when sent off as the 9/2 favourite and although the bare viewing of his recent form would suggest that he's not the same competitor he was, looks can be deceiving, and in this case, are. I thought that his most recent run was packed full of promise, as it came over 1m 4f and he's an out-and-out stayer who would need a phenomenal test of stamina at that trip in order to be able to leave victorious. He travelled really well once getting into a rhythm, which was quite surprising, and was only out-sprinted late on, as you would expect given his attributes. The 7-length seventh of 18 result that he posted was an eye-catching one for sure and showed his run at Ripon a few weeks earlier to be all wrong (ground just too soft). I don't know whether to be worried by the fact that he hasn't run for the past ten weeks, but he has gone well when fresh in the past and connections have probably been waiting for the ground to come back to normal. They have run him in this race on the past two occasions as well, with last seasons third place off 90 following up on a cracking second placed effort off this mark back in 2010, when set sail for home a long way out. He just seems to like it around here and with nothing too attractively handicapped lining up in opposition, he may be able to grab another deserved success. Jimmy Fortune being booked to ride is another positive as well, with him being due a spate of winners following a lot of mediocrity over the past couple of months (only 5 winners in June & July). The usual stakes will apply and here's hoping.
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