ANOTHER huge day at York on Thursday. Can Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) pick out some winners for us.
13:55 York | Channel 4
The first race of the day is the DES Premier Yearling Stakes for two year olds purchased at the Doncaster sales last year. With £147,000 to the winner there is little wonder that we have a field of 20 turning up for this.
As ever with these type of races you can fairly confidently rule out a lot of the field and in my opinion it’s really between four or five of these. The favourite Tasleet has good form in the book and was last seen chasing this seasons leading two year old Shalaa home at Goodwood. He was firmly put in his place that day, but he was a over a length clear of third so he looks smart. However he is 7/4 here so he’s not for me.
Projection comes here from the in form Roger Charlton yard on the back of an emphatic win in a Windsor maiden. He falls in to the “could be anything” category and I expect him to run a good race here.
Orvar from the Richard Hannon yard has run in some decent races so far in his career and his trainer does well in these sort of races, but I expect him to find one or two too good here at least.
The one I do fancy here is my old friend Lathom. He’s already won a big sales race, over five furlongs in Wetherbys Super Sprint at Newbury and I believe he can win another. He was disappointing at Royal Ascot but bounced right back to form in that, and in his last race at Goodwood he was desperately unlucky. Everything that could go wrong that day did and he would have finished much closer to the winner with some luck in running.
He won his maiden on good to soft and his stallion can produce soft ground winners so the conditions here should be ideal. He finishes his races strongly and has big field experience so this six furlong cavalry charge will pose no problems for him here.
I was pleasantly surprised at the 10/1 available about him and if you shop around for the best each way terms I make him a great bet to grab a place at the very minimum.
14:30 York | Channel 4
The Lowther Stakes is for 2 year old fillies over six furlongs and it was won impressively last season by Tiggy Wiggy. This year’s renewal looks good on paper with the market being dominated by the Mark Johnston trained Lumiere who comes here with a big reputation.
Lumiere has seen a race course once when she was sent off 6/5 favourite for a Newmarket maiden. She absolutely hacked up and reports from the gallops are that she is something special.
Now the Johnston yard is not known for building up their horses and in recent years they are better known for handicappers than training Group 1 winners, but he knows a good horse when he has one in his care, and I tend to believe she may be a little special.
She looks to possess exceptional speed and the only concern would be the soft ground here. She may well cope with it but she becomes a watching brief for me. I hope she wins, and wins well as the more top class horses we have the better, but I’m going for an each way option in this.
Although we may be playing for second place, there are three places available and I’m prepared to have a small bet on one of the outsiders. Continental Lady from the David Brown yard won a fairly run of the mill maiden at Leicester on her debut, but she won it nicely. Though there was no real substance to that race she will improve for her debut and has winning form on good to soft ground. Her sire Medicean can produce soft ground winners and she has an entry in the Group 1 Fillies Mile later in the season which indicates she is highly regarded.
Obviously she is thrown in to the deep end here but she is a filly of real potential and given natural improvement she should be knocking on the door in this. At 20/1 I make her a speculative selection rather than a confident one to challenge the more established runners.
15:40 York | Channel 4
The Yorkshire Oaks is over 12 furlongs for fillies and mares aged three and up and this is wide open. I’ve said all season that the fillies this season look special and I fully expect the Classic generation to dominate this, although the challenge from older fillies is slightly below par.
After her win in the Irish 1000 Guineas I though Pleascach was the filly to beat this season. She subsequently disappointed twice and has refused to settle in either race. I’m not sure of her best trip and the ground isn’t ideal either so I’m turning my back on her, even though I’m convinced she is substantially better than she is showing us currently.
Covert Love is a rapidly improving filly who won the Irish Oaks last time out. That was a fairly messy race for a Classic and she seemed to enjoy the run of things in front. Having said that she was a deserving winner and I can’t fully discount her here. However I expect the race to pan out slightly differently here and her rivals will be more aware of her this time.
Curvy was the beaten favourite in the Irish Oaks last time and in my opinion ran a little flat. This is her sixth race since April and it’s possible she needs a rest. She is a filly I like but I’m prepared to oppose her here.
Jack Naylor is a consistent filly who often looks unlucky in running as she seems to get going too late. She’ll win a Group race or two at some point but I’m not sure she will appreciate the ground here so she’s not for me either.
Crystal Zvezda still interests me as she was so impressive when winning at Newbury earlier in the season, but her inability to settle is a huge concern, especially in softer ground. It wouldn’t surprise me if Sir Michael Stoute adds some headgear to her at some point but I can’t risk backing a horse who does her best to ruin her chances.
The one I am backing is the Luca Cumani trained Lady of Dubai. Third in the Epsom Oaks she is still a fairly inexperienced filly and last time out at Goodwood she met trouble and seemed to struggle with the drop back to 10 furlongs. She seems to possess a lot of stamina and I feel the step back up in trip combined with the easier ground could see her find the improvement needed to come out on top here. At 8/1 she is backable each way but I’m doing her to win outright.