After a bit of a disastrous day on the opening day at York we move onto the second day and the search for some winners.
The rain arriving and turning the ground soft ahead of racing yesterday seemed to have a big impact on results, with winners coming in at 12/1, 25/1, 14/1 and 20/1, along with three winning favourites. Nice winners if you can find them.
We did of course know that the rain was going to arrive and change the conditions, so could plan accordingly, and the argument could be made that big field handicaps always have a tendency to throw up big priced winners, but conditions like yesterday do seem to make it that much more difficult to rely on the form.
I’d be interested at looking into any analysis there may be around average price of winners or position in the market compared against conditions and seeing if softer going does lead to bigger priced winners.
It may be selective memory on my part but my inclination is that soft or heavy ground does throw-up bigger priced winners far more frequently and there is a much greater influence around this on the flat compared to jumps.
Anyway, on to today’s action and a quick preview of our picks. Conditions are still soft and although it should dry out slightly through the day we do have a spate of non-runners, with So Mi Dar and Cracksman notable withdrawals.
3:30 1m2½f (1m2f56y) Betfred Dante Stakes (Group 2): The early favourite Cracksman has been withdrawn and although I wasn’t fully convinced of his claims it does change the make-up of this race.
The talk this week has been of ‘a gamble’ on the Sir Michael Stoute contender Crystal Ocean; he won his maiden well and Stoute horses in this are always worth watching, but the comments he made regarding the ‘gamble’ and the preparation of Crystal Ocean are worth reading and supports my own view; that the story around a gamble are nothing more than bookies PR trying to bring some money into a slow market.
Godolphin appear to be throwing the kitchen sink at the trials and field four different runners from four different trainers. I’d be surprised if any are good enough to be Derby contenders but under the conditions any are potentially capable of figuring here. The one I am most interested in is Swiss Storm; I’d be shocked if he won this but is one I’ll be keeping an eye on in future when conditions are better suited.
Aiden O’Brien hasn’t won this since 2010 and appears to have sent his better contenders elsewhere, with just Exemplar lining up, but I think the O’Brien family can still capture this with REKINDLING. Trained last year by David Wachman, he won a maiden on soft ground before disappointing in the Criterium Saint Cloud on his final start, which is no real shame and it’s worth noting his trainer thought he was good enough to compete there. On his first start for Joseph O’Brien he won well on debut in the Ballysax at Leopardstown, in the process beating the future 1-2-3 from the Derrinstown; so the form has been backed-up. There have been mixed messages about Rekindling, but the form of his last run looks solid, he has won on soft ground and he has that little bit more experience than the other principles, which makes him worth a try here at 4/1.
4:05 1m (7f192y) Betfred TV Hambleton Handicap (Listed Race) (Class 1): An 18-runner handicap, I wouldn’t be surprised if this mirrored results of yesterday in throwing up a big priced winner but there were two I wanted to focus on here. CHELSEA LAD was heavily backed last time out when pulled-up as if something was amiss but Martyn Meade has sounded very bullish on his chances and it could be worth taking another chance here, although I wouldn’t want to go much shorter than the current 6/1 available. At a bigger price, Here Comes When is backable each way; he has dropped to what could be an attractive mark, he’ll like the conditions and the Balding yard is in decent form, so at 12/1 is a workable each way pick.