'He's very much on the up' - progressive sprinters clash on the Knavesmire
Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap | 6f | 3yo | ITV/RTV
A low draw is usually favourable on the sprint track at York and that has been particularly true in this race in recent years.
In the ten runnings since 2010, seven winners have come from the five lowest stalls and single-figure draws have been generally dominant.
It's not just winners, either. If you break down each stall by percentage of rivals beaten (%RB), there is a general decline the higher you go. The ten runners in stall one have beaten a remarkable 69.7 per cent of their rivals, whereas those in stall 20 have beaten 39.7 per cent.
The gates have been adjusted for non-runners, so stall two would have been considered one if the runner in stall one hadn't run, and although it is only a small sample of just ten runners from each stall in the last 11 years, there seems clear evidence it has paid to race on the far side.
Dark Shift has a far-side draw in stall two but that gate has been an anomaly. Stalls one, three and four have beaten more than 60 per cent of their rivals in the 11 year period, but runners from two only 45.9 per cent. Mr Lupton was successful from that stall five years ago, though.
In 2015, Twilight Son won this race on just his fourth run before going on to land the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock on his next outing, and Dark Shift has a similar profile after three runs.
The Charlie Hills-trained three-year-old's Racing Post Ratings has regressed, though, recording 94 on his debut at Ascot last September, 90 at Salisbury the following month, and just 83 when successful on his seasonal reappearance at Nottingham last month.
The acid test is now and he may need to be a Group horse to pass it at this stage of his career.
The Ger Lyons-trained Aikido (stall eight) is going the other way in RPRs. He has been steadily progressive and recorded a career-high 99 when winning at Dundalk in April.
Irish runners might have dominated in Britain this year, but Lyons enjoys more success at home and is only 2-28 (seven per cent) with his British runners over the last five seasons.
The final word goes to First Folio, who has fared well in the draw stakes in stall three and represents James Ferguson. He has saddled one winner from just three runners at York.
Race analysis by Graeme Rodway
Ryan four-handed in repeat bid
It's ten years since Kevin Ryan won this race with Lexi's Hero and he fires four bullets in an effort to repeat the feat, including Seven Brothers, who had no luck at Newmarket last time.
The son of Slade Power won on his reappearance at Doncaster but then was denied a clear run on three separate occasions on the Rowley Mile.
Ryan also despatches the consistent pair Uncle Jumbo and Ben Macdui to the Knavesmire but his fourth entry Fighter Pilot will take part only in the unlikely event of any rain before post time.
Adam Ryan, assistant trainer, said: "This is a race we like and we are hoping Seven Brothers will be helped by the return to a more conventional track.
"Uncle Jumbo has been consistent this year and has course form and we are trying him in cheekpieces, which should help.
"Ben Macdui was second in the Molecomb Stakes last year and is returning to six furlongs on nice ground. If he gets it he'll be a big player, but Fighter Pilot needs rain if he's to take part."
Reporting by David Milnes
What they say
Karl Burke, trainer of Bickerstaffe
Ideally, we could have done with a bit more rain, but he ran a decent race on a quickish surface at Newmarket last time. He's in good form and we'll see if his draw in 16 is good or bad.
Danny Muscutt, rider of First Folio
The race he finished sixth in at Newmarket last time is working out well and this looks the right spot for him. He would have learned plenty from that, which will stand him in good stead in a competitive race like this.
William Haggas, trainer of Skyrunner
He's a horse we like and he's very much on the up. We've had these big Saturday handicaps in mind for him for a while and he's trained very well up to it.
Richard Hills, assistant racing manager to Shadwell Estates, owners of Jadwal
He's been knocking at the door of late and loves fast ground, so conditions should be ideal for him. I expect him to be in the mix again.
Tony Coyle, trainer of Eh Up It's Maggie
She won impressively at Carlisle last time but ideally could do with a bit of rain. The handicapper hasn't missed by putting her up 9lb for that, but she likes the track and it's decent prize-money to go for.
Oisin Murphy, rider of Blackrod
He's been quite well held on his last two starts, including once at York last season, but that was on slower ground and it'll be interesting to see what he can do on a better surface.
Read more on Saturday's action:
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