At the time of writing 9am Tuesday morning, It looks as if the heavy showers that have hit many parts of Britain on Tuesday/Wednesday are likely to miss the Knavesmire and I am expecting fast summer flat ground throughout York’s four-day Ebor meeting.
Mill Stream has been the best-backed juvenile in the run-up to the Group 3 Acomb Stakes, but I am not convinced he is crying out for the step up to seven furlongs.
I think this rests between Irish raider Indestructible and LOCAL DYNASTY with marginal preference for the latter despite the fact that it is less than a fortnight since he made a winning debut on the July course.
No outright market leader has won the Acomb for a decade, but he got loose before scoring earlier in the month when the further he went the better he looked. The time was nothing special and he will get a mile later in the year – holds an entry in the Royal Lodge – but he gets a narrow vote in a race full of unexposed types – eight of the nine are last-time-out winners. As ever it should be a most informative and competitive heat.
Aidan O’Briens’s Aikhal bounced back from a modest seasonal reappearance – last at Royal Ascot in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes over a mile – to run out an impressive winner upped in trip by a couple of furlongs when scoring in a Curragh Group 3 last time. He should stay a mile-and-a-half and he has been backed from 10/1 into 7/2 in recent days.
The only horse who has beaten SECRET STATE in his five career starts to date is the unbeaten Francesco Clemente who would most certainly been the recommendation had he taken up today’s engagement. The Charlie Appleby-trained colt is not flashy but has improved with each run and he holds Deauville Legend on Royal Ascot form and stablemate Walk Of Life on a line through Deauville Legend.
It will be interesting to see if William Buick goes forward from his outside stall – El Bodegon has led in the past – or whether James Doyle will make the running on Walk Of Stars. I don’t think a tactical race will suit Secret State but may play into the hands of Aikhal.
I have been keeping a weather watch on York as much for the two-mile handicap as any other race over the four days given, I would be very sweet on the each-way prospects of FRANKENSTELLA and Haveyoumissedme had the rain arrived. It looks as if my wishes will not be granted but I still believe the John Quinn-trained mare can run a good race as long as conditions are not lightening fast.
The 5-y-old has won on fast ground in the past but is a better horse with a bit of dig in the ground. The market leaders look vulnerable and the each-way recommendation has a course record of 1-3-4.
Haveyoumissedme is closely matched with Zoffee on the revised terms for their Newcastle running back in June but is over twice the price of the Hugo Palmer-trained 6-y-old. Had the rains arrived he would have been the each-way recommendation but, if the showers fail to materialise, then I would be surprised if he faced the starter.
Conditions were described as good on Tuesday at Worcester on Tuesday, and they are forecast more showers overnight and this morning than is the case in Yorkshire.
This is significant because likely market leader Chess Player is unproven with cut in the ground while ATLANTIC STORM did us a favour at Southwell on good to soft ground back in June. The selection is 4lbs higher this afternoon but that is negated by the 5lbs claim of conditional Chris Ward who has won three of his sixteen rides over fences.
A market move for the chase debutant Halifax would be significant and he has decent soft ground form on the flat in France and in his sole bumper in Ireland for Joseph O’Brien. His best run over timber was here back in the spring but I just favour Atlantic Storm if conditions are good to soft or worse.
Kattib did plenty of running to get to the front at Lingfield last time and, in the circumstances, did well to fend off two determined late challengers. He has a terrific draw in stall two tonight and the handicapper has not overreacted with a 3lbs rise.
The one that interests me, however, is CHEF DE PARTIE who has been gelded since disappointing over 10f at Newbury last time. He was beaten well before stamina became an issue last time and I got the impression he didn’t appreciate being visored for the first time. The headgear is left off this evening as he makes his all-weather debut. If he copes with the surface – synthetic winners in the family – I think he can run a big race from a 2lb lower mark with Richard Kingscote keeping the ride.
* Odds correct at the time of writing. Subject to changes.