14:25 Sky Bet Melrose Handicap – 1m6f
Effectively, this is the compensation race for the Ebor, over the same C&D just over an hour later and it is again a classy handicap.
Wild Crusade is the favourite for this but he will need improvement to defy this latest 9lb rise and preference is for the vastly improved CAIUS CHORISTER, who did blog readers a favour at Goodwood last time and is still going from strength to strength.
Trainer David Menuisier has improved this Golden Horn filly by 39lb this season, which really is phenomenal. Her latest success, by just a neck, suggests her winning run may be about to end. However, the front pair were over 4l clear of the rest that day and she just keeps on finding more.
Now she has done what she has done at up to 1m4f, Menuisier has chosen to try find further progress over a longer trip and, given that her dam Corpus Chorister was a relentless stayer herself, this move could again work the oracle. At 8/1 she looks worth backing each-way but may well still be up to winning this.
15:35 Sky Bet Ebor Handicap – 1m6f
Europe’s richest handicap is always a race to savour and the 2022 renewal looks to be no different on paper.
Like many of these big prizes throughout the season, genuine handicappers are often found out at the expense of Group horses in waiting.
It could work out the same way again this time, when there is once again a significant cohort of Irish-trained raiders up for a tilt at the £300,000 first prize.
Among those is the ante-post favourite Earl Of Tyrone, who is trained by Paddy Twomey. Twomey has enjoyed a superb 2022, including training the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes winner La Petite Coco. He has Earl Of Tyrone in magnificent form at present.
In four starts since joining him from John Joseph Murphy, the gelded son of Australia has done nothing but improve. He’s won his last three starts, including a valuable Curragh handicap and also in Listed company last time.
He’s a winner over this trip and ground conditions also look likely to be perfect, so he has a lot going for him and it’s understandable that he’s the ‘jolly’.
Five of the last eight winners of the Ebor have been trained on the Emerald Isle. None of those have been the race favourite. In fact, only Fujaira Prince, in 2020, has justified market leadership in this race in the last decade, during which time seven of those successful came home in front at double-figure odds.
Candleford looks interesting at 10/1 and is one of two runners in this field trained by Yorkshireman William Haggas. Haggas targets this racecourse for many of his horses and Candleford, who won the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot on his penultimate start, before coming unstuck when stepped up to 1m6f at Newmarket last time, should be a player if he can bounce back from that.
However, it is his stable companion GAASSEE who is my fancy for this great prize. His record is 4-6 so far. Although a beaten favourite at Haydock (1m4f, soft) last time, he is still open to further progress and is clearly held in high regard, given his entry in the Irish St Leger. To justify taking part there he would certainly have to go very close here and he looks a very exciting prospect going up in trip to 1m6f this time.
Haggas is desperate to win this race and, when Gaassee won at this track in May (1m4f), he said that his charge would stay, which suggested he has had this race in mind all along.
Okita Soushi is another Irish raider who comes into this lightly-raced, although with just a Fairyhouse maiden on debut in the win column. Having said that, there was little wrong with his 2l third in the Copper Horse Stakes at Royal Ascot (1m6f, good to firm) and a similar effort here should put him right in the mix. However, he does have a lesser Leopardstown effort to put behind him.
Alfred Boucher was a ready winner here on Wednesday in the stayers’ handicap (2m, good) and carries just a 4lb penalty for that 3l success. He has to be taken seriously as a result, but this is as tough as staying handicaps get.
Of all those in opposition to my selection, none is feared more than Ever Present, who was a classy bumper horse for Jessica Harrington and is 3-5 in this code. He got upset in the stalls on his reappearance at Down Royal last month and so there is an excuse for that below par effort. However, he signed off last season with a wonderful performance to destroy a big field of handicappers at Leopardstown (1m5f, good) and, if he can get back to that level, he would be a huge player here.
David O’Meara has placed Get Shirty very well to win four of his five starts this term, going very close in the other. He stays 2m, acts on a sound surface and won’t mind if it turns soft. He still had a few pounds in hand when winning at Haydock last time and he can’t be ruled out, even with another 5lb rise for this.
Licence is totally unexposed and was last seen running in a Leopardstown Group 3 over 1m4f (good). He looked likely to get this trip when nearest at the finish that day and his trainer, Ger Lyons, won this in 2019 with Mustajeer, so he knows what it takes.
Arguably well treated here is Euchen Glen, who is due to go up 3lb after finishing third behind the far-less exposed Trawlerman at Goodwood recently. The latter carries a 4lb penalty for that improved effort, while Jim Goldie’s Scottish raider, who has been a standing dish in these types of race for years, gets in off the same mark as at the Sussex track. Both are priced at 14/1 and on this occasion, the tried and tested Euchen Glen is preferred of the pair. He looks a handy each-way play at that price and if he avoids trouble, he could well run into a place.
There has been money this week for both Enemy and John Leeper but both look in need of improvement to win.
16.10 Sky Bet Constantine Handicap – 6f
Commanche Falls commands a huge amount of respect here after his wonderful recent effort to make it back-to-back Stewards’ Cup wins.
However, his handicap mark is now eyewatering and this is a different track, where he was well held in his only previous run.
I’m looking no further than SUMMERGHAND here, who has performed well in big field sprints at this track before now, is trained locally by David O’Meara and is on a very handy mark.
I fancied him and put him up as my pick on the blog from Ripon last Saturday but unfortunately those, like him, who went far side that day were significantly disadvantaged. Nonetheless, he came home well and, drawn in stall 2 here, he looks to be worth a play at around 9/1, better if you can get it. Granted a clear run, today could again be his day.