'A Group 1 in all but name' - analysis and key quotes for Duke of York cracker
Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes (Group 2) | 6f | 3yo+ | ITV4/RTV
If you took away the title of this race and judged it purely on the runners lining up you could be forgiven for thinking it was a Group 1 race, as it looks a top-level sprint in all but name.
Last year’s July Cup winner Oxted is the star attraction but he hasn’t been able to match his Newmarket form in three outings since and has questions to answer after his defeat in the Abernant on the Rowley Mile there last time, when he recorded a Racing Post Rating of 111.
That figure is 12lb below what he achieved in the July Cup and trainer Roger Teal admitted to being disappointed that Oxted was beaten in an interview on Racing TV after that race.
Teal also suggested a drop to five furlongs might suit Oxted and York’s quick six-furlong dash should be suitable for him. In terms of standard times, the sprint course at York comes out similar to Newmarket’s July and Rowley Mile venues, where Oxted has excelled before.
The track shouldn’t be a worry, so can Oxted rediscover his spark? He has averaged an RPR of just 103 on his last three starts and the average winning RPR in the last nine runnings of this race is 118. So he doesn’t just need to find his form, he needs to find his very best form.
Only two other runners in this race have ever recorded an RPR of 118 or higher and one of them, Summerghand, was the winner over Oxted in the Abernant at Newmarket.
Summerghand achieved an RPR of 118 when winning last year’s Stewards’ Cup and hasn’t matched that level since, but he is on a hat-trick and is often underestimated in the market.
I’ve lost count of how many times he has been described as a tricky sprinter who needs everything to drop right, but that is either complete nonsense or everything has dropped right a lot of times.
He has won 12 of his 52 races and a £1 bet on him in every race would have yielded a profit of £24.49. There aren’t many horses who can boast such a solid record.
Brando is the other runner who has achieved an RPR of 118 and he is also the one to have done it most recently, when a nose second to Glen Shiel on Champions Day at Ascot.
That is 9lb higher than any other figure he has achieved since the start of 2020, though, and he was second in a weaker race at Haydock on Saturday, when he was again 9lb below 118.
No fewer than six of the other nine runners competed in Group 1 company last time, including Starman and Art Power, who were behind Brando on Champions Day at Ascot.
Neither has recorded the 118 figure yet, but Starman (best RPR 116) and Art Power (117) aren’t far off and they have run only 12 times between them. Starman, in particular, should be more than capable of reaching the required level in time. He has run only four times, after all.
Race analysis by Graeme Rodway
Oxted in great shape for King's Stand prep
Roger Teal is hoping this Group 2 outing will put his stable star Oxted in perfect position to drop in trip for a tilt at the King's Stand at Royal Ascot next month.
The five-year-old won the Group 1 July Cup over six furlongs last summer and is yet to run over five but Teal says he has been planning the change for some time.
"We're going to run him in the King's Stand because that's a stiff five and we've been wanting to drop him back for a while," he said. "He's quite aggressive in his races now and this is the right time."
"That will be our next stop after this and then we'll be looking to go back up to six at Newmarket so he can try to defend his July Cup crown."
Oxted finished second to the reopposing Summerghand at Newmarket on his return to action last month but is reported to have improved noticeably thanks to the outing.
Teal added: "I've been very happy with the way he's come out of Newmarket and he looks a lot better in himself now. He ran a bit fresh and was doing too much too soon."
What they say
Will Easterby, assistant to Tim Easterby, trainer of Art Power
It's really exciting to get him back on the track. He seems in good nick at home and has been working well but he might need the run. The Diamond Jubilee will be the Ascot target and he'll stick to six for now.
Adam Ryan, assistant to Kevin Ryan, trainer of Brando, Emaraaty Ana and Queen Jo Jo
Emaraaty Ana was a course-and-distance winner as a two-year-old and he's been knocking on the door this year. We had to ride Brando differently at Haydock but with the ground the way it is we've decided to take a chance here. Queen Jo Jo won over course and distance last year and is a Listed and Group 3 winner, so it's well worth having a go.
Roger Varian, trainer of Molatham
He's dropping back to six furlongs for the first time since his two-year-old debut but he's not short of speed. The trip may be a bit on the short side for him but this will tell us whether he's a Diamond Jubilee horse.
Ed Walker, trainer of Starman
He needs to get out, he's been fit and well for a long time now. He also needs racing experience before Royal Ascot. The prospect of soft ground is a concern. I imagine the ground will be quite similar to how it was when he beat Dakota Gold there last year and he coped with that.
Bruce Raymond, racing manager to Hamad Rashed Bin Ghedayer, owner of Summerghand
He's very good in those top-grade handicaps where they go hell for leather and he comes from off the pace. He's very genuine and likes some cut in the ground but it's another step up in grade.
Bruce Raymond, racing manager to Abdullah Menahi, owner of Ventura Rebel
He's been off a while but he's going the right way, is in good form at home and would have a chance.
Reporting by Tom Ward
Read more Wednesday race previews:
Place bets with seven bookmakers without leaving the free Racing Post app. Same prices, same offers, live video. Every race, every day. Search 'Racing Post App' to download for free