1.50pm York – Queen Mother’s Cup (Lady Amateur Riders) (Handicap) Class Three – 1m 4f
It’s pretty unusual to start a Channel 4 card with a Ladies only race but so be it and we are more than happy to start off with Oceane (13/2 Each Way) from the Alan King yard who looks to have been laid out for the race. The early booking of top amateur Serena Brotherton is what caught our eye for starters, and with her record of two wins in four rides in the past 14 days and 25% strike rate at the track from limited mounts, she is clearly worth an extra few pounds to any horse and seem most likely to be sent off the favourite. As for the horse, he has won three races in total, one in his native France at Marseille- Borely over nine furlongs, one over hurdles at Fontwell (two miles one), and one on the flat at Kempton (two miles). We mention that as the only thing we can really see against him here is the drop back to a mile and a half, but his jockey is astute enough to make the most if his added stamina, and he certainly looks like the most obvious winner at this early stage.
Trainer Brian Ellison took this last season with Apterix at odds of 12/1 and will look to double up courtesy of Sikandar (25/1) who seems to have each way chances. His two wins from fourteen starts throe out mixed messages with a ten-furlong victory on quicker ground at Doncaster and a two mile plus win at Bangor over hurdles on soft going, so take your pick as to what you think will suit him best! He has gone off the boil a bit in recent runs since the handicapper got to him, but has been running all spring and will not be lacking in race fitness, and should place at the very least today.
Snoano (14/1) used to be in the tender loving care of John Gosden but moved to Tim Easterby in February and has been running well without winning in better races than this ever since. A four-year-old son of Nayef, one of our all time favourites, he won twice over a mile in late 2014, and has failed to hit the bullseye in nine contest since, but this would be only his third attempt at a mile and a half, and first on a quick surface which may yet help him see out the trip. If they go a crawl, and that may be the fastest some of these can manage, then he has the finishing kick to put this race to bed, and as the yard have won this race twice in the last five years (both times with Crackentorp), they know exactly the sort of horse required.
Donald McCain is not usually associated with racing on the flat but has his daughter Abbie booked to ride Sign Manual (12/1) this afternoon, and she will know her mount better than most of the others jockeys will know theirs for obvious reasons. Prolifically raced over hurdles, the seven-year-old won at Catterick in February and over this trip at Haydock last time out on the flat, making all and repelling all boarders, though upped an extra couple of pounds today he might find life a bit more difficult as this does have the potential to be a much netter race.
To round things off nicely, we were shocked to see Nayel (7/2) engaged here with expectations that he would head to Royal Ascot – maybe he will try to do the pair. Trained by Richard Hannon, the son of Acclamation had to be hard driven to win over two furlongs shorter at York last time out and with Katie Walsh in the saddle he must have chances, we just have a worry over his stamina for this trip.
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