THERE’S some wonderful racing at York this week. Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) takes a look at the Day 1 best bets.
14:30 York | Channel 4
The Acomb Stakes is a seven furlong Group 3 race for two year olds and this looks wide open. Every horse lining up can be given a chance and I expect whatever wins here to have a decent future ahead of them.
Most of these won a maiden last time out, and won well, so it’s hard to make a confident selection as the form lines are so similar. With question marks about the ground tomorrow I’m looking through breeding and trying to find a horse that looks like they will handle softer ground. A few in here probably will, but I’m going to back one who has experienced it before.
Not only does Bing Bang Bong have one of the best names in training, he also has potential to be a class horse. On his debut at Pontefract he was fancied to run well but a combination of inexperience and a lack of luck in running meant he came third. He looked a colt to follow and duly hacked up in a Newmarket maiden a week later. That was on soft ground over six furlongs and he looked better the further he ran.
His sire Big Bad Bob, who is a full brother to Galileo is a real stamina influence so this seven furlong trip will suit Bing Bang Bong. He looks to have a mix of speed and stamina that should see him take the step up to Group level in his stride, and although this is a strong looking renewal I make him a great each way bet here.
15:05 York | Channel 4
The Great Voltigeur is seen as the premier St Leger trial, but it’s also a race worth winning on its own right as it is worth just under £100,000 to the winner. Some of the main fancies for the final Classic of the season have turned up here but with a small field it could be a messy race.
Storm the Stars is the obvious starting point here. He brings Derby form to the table and is a deserving favourite. He was placed in both the English and Irish versions but I’m not convinced he’s going to win this. He’s had a long hard season and I can see others catching up with him. He’s the most exposed runner in the field and although he has beaten some of today’s rivals previously I’m happy to oppose him.
Balios is my St Leger pick. I think he is full of potential and a strongly run 14 furlongs will see him at his best. However he won’t get that here and I can’t back him either.
Tashaar looked like a good horse at Goodwood last time but that was a 0-90 handicap. He takes on Group 1 horses here and Richard Hannon isn’t known for his stayers, so while he is an interesting runner I can’t have him either.
The one I do like is the outsider of the Ballydoyle contingent Aloft. He is something of a forgotten horse having came second in the Racing Post Trophy last season on soft ground. He wasn’t seen again until the Queens Vase at Royal Ascot when he won well in a race ran at no pace.
I’m not sure who will lead in this race and I have a feeling they may let Aloft set off in front. If he is allowed a soft lead he could be allowed to completely dominate. Colm O’Donoghue is a vastly underrated jockey and in big races has ridden some fine rides from the front, most notably Treasure Beach in the 2011 Derby. He is no back number in this race and looks fairly straightforward too. He looks a huge price to me at 10/1.
15:40 York | Channel 4
The Judmonte International. Officially the best horse race in the world on ratings and this is a top class renewal. If the rain had stayed away we could have had the race of the decade on our hands, but by the looks of things it may not happen.
If this had been on quick ground we would have two emphatic Classic winners going head to head over a distance between their optimums. I’m 100% convinced Gleneagles will stay 10 furlongs. In fact given his pedigree, his temperament and running style I think he may even improve for the step up. He is a class act and on fast ground is a match for anything.
At the prices I could have backed him in this as there is not a huge amount between them in my opinion, but since the rain has come he is no longer backable. We know he has guts, he won the Irish Guineas on softer ground but over 10 furlongs against a field who stay this trip and one of the most impressive Derby winners of recent years he is well up against it here.
Golden Horn is the favourite here and needs no introduction. Winner of the Dante, Derby and Eclipse, he is on course to be the highest rated horse in Europe this season. His owner has ruled out a trip to Paris or the States for the two big end of season races against fellow superstars Treve or American Pharaoh and this looks like being a wash out too.
It will be a real shame if we never get to find out how good he is in a head to head against one of the other racing superpowers. Unless the ground turns heavy Golden Horn wins this.
So who comes second? I’m of the opinion Gleneagles won’t run. If he does I can’t see him running to his level of form. So who does this leave us?
Time Test was an impressive winner of the Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot where he destroyed a field in a time quicker than the Group 1 Prince of Wales Stakes. He looks like a colt destined for the top but he has no form on soft ground and at 5/1 is not for me.
I can see the result being exactly the same as the Eclipse with the incredibly consistent The Grey Gatsby filling second place. He came second in this race last year and although he prefers good ground, he won the Dante here on good to soft last season. He is a massively underrated horse and his form is rock solid. I make him the most likely to follow home Golden Horn and will be backing the forecast.
14:30 York – Bing Bang Bong each way (12/1 William Hill)
15:05 York – Aloft to win (10/1 BetVictor)
15:40 York – Golden Horn/The Grey Gatsby Straight Forecast