By the time you read this week’s article York’s Ebor Festival will have started and with top class horse racing action in the order of the four days. EyeCatcher Pro subscribers go into the meeting with a healthy profit gained over the last month or so which is a good sign for the week. Let’s hope the good recent run can be maintained at the Knavesmire, a track I love but where the punting hasn’t been as successful in recent years as I would like. Apart from the odd shower being about on Day 1, the meeting looks set to take place on a sound surface with some pleasant weather about which will be a nice contrast to the recent Goodwood Festival. I will be at York on Friday and maybe Thursday for what looks set to be a great four day’s racing.
I won’t be adding any more general micro-angles this week but normal service will resume next week. In this weeks article, I will share with you two angles that might be worth noting at York this week, as well as looking at some of the key trends for Saturday’s big race the Ebor Handicap which is now the richest flat racing handicap in Europe. Before those and last weeks horses for your tracker, I will have a quick look back at Saturday’s action from Newbury.
Defoe Scores at Newbury
For those of you who joined me in taking the 20/1 available about Defoe, after his win at Hamilton, for next months St Leger will be happy as he is now as short as 7/1 for the final classic of the season after his cosy win in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury on Saturday. As expected the step up to 1m 5 ½ f suited the colt as did the rain softened ground as he won with more in hand than final margin suggests. Travelling sweetly when he took up the running a furlong from home it seemed he would go onto win by more distance than he did. He may not have quickened away from his field but his jockey gave him a nice confident hand ride and I think there was plenty more in the tank if he had needed to use it. Trainer Roger Varian won the St Léger with Kingston Hill and after the race, his jockey said he thought Defoe was the better horse, high praise indeed. This year’s final classic is potentially stronger than recent renewals but Defoe goes there will a great chance particularly if there is some juice in the ground. He is improving with racing and will like the extra half furlong of the race. Despite the likes of Crystal Ocean, Capri and Stradivarius there is no horse I would rather be with than the Varian horse.
Massaat Aims for Champions Day Glory
The Owen Burrows trained Massaat returned to the track after a 12-month layoff, second in last years 2000 Guineas, before failing to stay in the Epsom Derby. He suffered a serious knee injury last year that curtailed his season but he made up for lost time with an authoritative win in the 7f Group 2 Hungerford Stakes. Given his action, he was at home on the rain softened ground. Fingers crossed, the Group 1 QEII on Champions Day will be his target. Given doubts about Ribchester he will go into that race with a good chance. The extra furlong will suit and if he gets good to soft or soft ground he will be tough to beat. Bookies have had a mixed reaction to his performance with Bet365 going 10/1 about his chance for the QEII and William Hill & Sky Bet a standout 14/1. I have had a nibble at him ante post at 16s which is still available with Boylesports at the time of writing.
This Weeks Eyecatcher’s
Thursday 17th August
War At Sea – David Simcock – The 3-year-old has gradually improved with racing and the fitting of the hood has helped in his progress. He wasn’t suited by the modest gallop at Yarmouth last week and he also wasn’t helped by a slow start either. Despite not getting the best of runs inside the final furlong he finished well and was only beaten 1 ½ lengths into 3rd. He can win a modest handicap off a mark of 77, I am sure of that, especially when returning to 1m 2f and getting better overall gallop in the race. The gelding is still a maiden but has only had seven career starts so there is scope for a bit more progress.
Friday 18th August
Soldier’s Bay – Brian Meehan – The trainer likes to introduce a nice 2-year-old at Newbury and this son of Acclamation looks an interesting juvenile. He was slow away from the stalls but made eye-catching headway two furlongs from home and was finishing his race off nicely without being given too hard a race. Only 6th at the line but he was beaten just over 3 lengths but he should benefit from this run and given his trainers juveniles tend to progress well from their racecourse debut there should be maiden in the colt before the end of the season.
Saturday 19th August
Tansheet – William Haggas – Another nice looking juvenile who made his debut in a maiden at Newbury at the weekend. The son of Shamardal will appreciate a sounder surface than he faced here down the line. In the paddock, he looked a horse with plenty of scope for improvement and looks a horse that will come into his own as 3-year-old and when he steps up to a 1m +. His half brother Tawdeea really came into his own over 1m 2f + and indeed put up his best performance when winning the 2016 1m 4f Old Newton Cup ay Haydock. He only beat two home at Newbury and although he was well beaten at the finish. His performance wasn’t devoid of promise for the future and he should come on a bundle for it given his paddock appearance. This horse is very much a long term project for your trackers!
Graphite Storm – Clive Cox – The 3-year-old, a winner twice as a juvenile ran a really good race over a mile at Ascot back in May when beaten just a short head into second place. He didn’t show much on his next two starts but bounced back to form in this competitive Class 3 handicap. When just finding the well-handicapped Squats to strong. Given he didn’t get the best of runs when making his effort a furlong from home he did well to finish as close as he did to the winner. It was nice to see him finish his race off as strongly as he did and it augurs well for the remaining weeks of the season. The handicapper has raised him 3lb for this run but not hard to think he can be competitive off 90. Any doubts about soft ground were dismissed and he has also won on good to firm in the past so seems fairly ground versatile.
I like to dip my toe, so to speak, into the Irish racing so here’s one from across the Irish Sea
It’s All For Luck – Robbie McNamara – I have been taken by the filly’s last two runs in big field handicaps at the Curragh. The 3-year-old was beaten just a length over 6f on her handicap debut two starts back. Given the way she finished off her race, it was a bit of a surprise to see her dropped back to 5f here. She was slightly run off her feet in the middle of the race but was making good headway inside the final furlong to finish 4th of 20. A step back to 6f, she might even stay 7f, will be in her favour. The filly looks ground versatile and although she is still a maiden she has only had five career starts, so is open to more progress beyond her present mark of 67.
All that’s left now is to wish you a profitable week’s punting.