Tasty appetiser in store before next week's fantastic feast of riches at York
The Day In A Nutshell
It’s the calm before the storm that is four action-packed days of high-quality racing at York next week.
Newbury provides the Group-race action with the Group 2 Ladyswood Stud Hungerford Stakes (3.35) and Group 3 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2.25) being the highlights.
The Listed Denford Stakes (1.50), formerly called the Washington Singer Stakes and renowned for producing Classic winners, backs up the two principal events.
Likely Hungerford market leader Gustav Klimt, who was made ante-post favourite for this year’s 2,000 Guineas after landing the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket last July, drops in class following a string of fine efforts in Group 1 company under Ryan Moore.
Ripon stages its major race of the year, the William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap (3.15), in which the Ruth Carr-trained course specialist Pipers Note bids for a remarkable ninth win at the Yorkshire track. He has certainly been in good heart of late, having landed his last two races – both at Ripon, of course!
The Randox Grey Horse Handicap (3.20) at Newmarket – which, as the race title suggests, is restricted to horses of that particular colour – has proved one of the more welcome additions to the programme on the July course in recent years.
Sixteen greys of various hue have been declared, including race regulars Champagne Bob and the 12-year-old Time Medicean, both of whom travel to Suffolk on the back of last-time out victories.
Searching for Classic clues
Rodrigo De Triano (1991), Lammtarra (1994) and Just The Judge (2012) are just three winners of the Washington Singer Stakes (1.50) at Newbury who went on to achieve great things the following year.
Only time will tell if there is a Classic hero among Saturday’s seven-runner line-up, in which the unbeaten Richard Hannon-trained Boitron is likely to start a strong favourite ahead of the Charlie Appleby-trained Good Fortune.
There appears to be no lack of confidence behind Boitron, an impressive winner at Newbury and Doncaster, and his trainer said: “He looks an extremely exciting prospect. His work has been excellent and he goes there with an excellent chance of remaining unbeaten. We’ve got high hopes for this one.”
You have been told.
Fahey and Midgley dominate consolation
Richard Fahey and Paul Midgley, both bang-in-form trainers, are responsible for no fewer than seven of the 15 runners for the Great St Wilfrid consolation race, the William Hill Silver Trophy Handicap (2.05), at Ripon.
Fahey sends out course-and-distance winner Gin In The Inn, the talented but wholly unpredictable Paddy Power, and Boundsy, who has yet to get on the scoresheet this season.
Midgley fields four runners, comprising Related, Hee Haw, Patrick and Rantan, with the Luke Morris-ridden Hee Haw arguably the pick. Midgley and Morris teamed up to score with Tarboosh in a 5f Nottingham conditions stakes on Tuesday night.
That was Tarboosh’s third consecutive win and provided another shining example of his trainer’s magic touch with sprinters.
Veteran Time Medicean heads grey charge
There is also something quite magical and compelling about watching a cavalry charge of greys up the July course at Newmarket.
Whether it is because the race is unique or whether there is just something about grey horses that racing enthusiasts like – no doubt Desert Orchid was largely responsible for this particular sentiment – rest assured plenty of people who don’t usually focus on low-grade handicappers will find themselves drawn to the Randox Health Grey Horse Handicap (3.20), which is open to those rated between 0-85.
Gallant old warrior Time Medicean rolled back the years when storming up the Brighton hill under promising apprentice Poppy Bridgwater on Friday to end a losing spell which stretched back to March 2014.
The evergreen 12-year-old is a regular in this race, and won it as a five-year-old way back in 2011. Although raised 6lb by the handicapper for that long-overdue success at the Brighton festival, Tony Carroll’s runner could again run a huge race at big odds.
Don’t be put off his chance simply by the fact Time Medicean is 12 and concedes nine years to many of his rivals. He will love the forecast ease in the ground, similar conditions to those he encountered at Brighton.
Next stage of long-range Carlisle plan?
It would be no surprise if a long-range plan for next summer is being hatched with Breathable, who tackles the William Hill Leading Racecourse Bookmaker Handicap (5.00) at Ripon, just five days after going down by a short head to Roundhead over the course and distance.
One of Breathable’s owners is none other than former Carlisle racecourse chairman James Westoll, who would dearly love to win one of the two famous handicaps at that track’s biggest Flat meeting of the year next June.
The 69-rated Breathable, who won impressively on his penultimate start at Beverley, is clearly on the upgrade, and would need to improve his current mark by around 14lb to get into the Cumberland Plate.
No doubt Breathable’s trainer Tim Easterby is fully aware of Westoll’s hopes for a dream day next summer, and already has one eye firmly on Carlisle.
Victory on Saturday – which looks entirely possible – would bring it one step closer.
Summer jumping in Britain returned after an eight-day break at Newton Abbot on Wednesday, and there are further meetings on Saturday at Perth and Market Rasen.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson, who is going to have to pull out all the stops over the coming months to reel in runaway leader Harry Skelton, travels to Scotland for seven rides for Gordon Elliott, who appears to have caught the Perth bug again after a spell in which he didn’t send as many runners as in previous years.
The appropriately named High Expectations, who tackles the £30,000 Stone Of Destiny Handicap Hurdle (3.40), is one of the seven, and it’s safe to say Johnson and Elliott will be disappointed if they don’t enjoy multiple successes on the card.
Galvin looks a likely winner of the maiden hurdle (1.55) for the pair, while at Market Rasen High Jinx, who is two from two over hurdles, stands out in the novice hurdle (5.30) for Tim Easterby and Connor King.
Strong British challenge at Deauville
Deauville’s summer season continues with a card featuring two Group 2 races and 11 British-trained runners.
Godolphin field three representatives, including Hadith, in one of those Group 2s, the Shadwell Prix de la Nonette (3.50) over ten furlongs.
“Her last start was as a two-year-old when she won the Montrose Stakes at Newmarket. We feel that whatever she does this weekend there's going to be some improvement.”
My Sister Nat could prove best of the French-trained fillies and trainer Francis Graffard said: "I’m looking forward to seeing her back over this trip. Last time she took a while to get going and then finished really well and was only just beaten.
"She's a mile-and-a-quarter filly for me and is very well physically and mentally, so I think she's ready to run a good race. This has always been the plan."
Appleby runs Al Hilalee in the Listed juvenile contest. The colt won impressively on his debut at Newmarket last month, and the trainer said: “Al Hilalee was still showing signs of greenness there. He has come on mentally since, and the step up in trip is going to suit him as well. He has a future over a trip and hopefully he can be competitive over a mile this weekend.”
William Buick rides Hadith and Al Hilalee, and also course-and-distance winner Beyond Reason for Godolphin and Appleby in the Group 2 Shadwell Prix du Calvados.
The trainer added: “She’s stepping up in grade again but has come out of her last success well.”
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