Twenty go to post for this big field handicap to kick off the ITV Racing action and the Ebor Festival. See our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: This is a hugely competitive field and a case can be made for most, but preference is for Edward Lynam’s MOVIESTA. He won a very competitive handicap at Dundalk two starts ago and he’s only six pounds higher here, acquitting himself well on his latest start when fourth in the Group 3 Phoneix Stakes at the Curragh. A repeat of that performance back into handicap company will see him very tough to beat under three pound claimer Robbie Downey. The challengers are plentiful, with Edward Lewis, El Astronaute and Hoof It touted to go close.
1 OUT DO – Course and distance winner for David O’Meara who won the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot off a five pound lower mark, soundly beaten the last twice. Danny Tudhope deserts him today which isn’t a positive sign and he’s probably too high in the weights at present. Possible each way claims but he would be a surprise winner.
2 MOVIESTA – Course winner who took a handicap at Dundalk in July and he was far from disgraced on his latest start when fourth in the Group 3 Phoenix Stakes. He returns to handicap company today off only six pounds higher than his last winning mark and, judging by that Group 3 run, he’s more than capable of shaking off this mark. Robbie Downey takes the ride for Edward Lynam who is in excellent form and he should be very tough to beat.
3 GRACIOUS JOHN – Has a good record here at York for David Evans, but he’s been soundly beaten on all four of his runs this season since returning to the turf. He weakened tamely on his latest start in a weaker grade than this and he remains on the same mark, so he’s impossible to recommend.
4 LINE OF REASON – Finished fourth in this race last season for Paul Midgley and he’s had excuses the last twice when trying to follow up a June double. He still remains well treated on the best of his form and a return to a bigger field should play to his strengths. Oisin Murphy takes the ride and he’s a frame contender.
5 ORION’S BOW – Finished second in the Steward’s Cup off this mark last season, however he arrives here in still painfully inconsistent form. He was a good third in the Gosforth Park Cup behind Line Of Reason back in June, but he was soundly beaten, despite coming fifth at Ascot on his latest start. Possible each way claims as he’s well treated, yet he remains risky.
6 THESME – Course and distance winner who has been well below form this season. She’s consequently fallen to a mark of 100, which is manageable on the best of her form. This track should play to her strengths and Frankie Dettori is up for this run, but it’s not hard to look elsewhere.
7 EDWARD LEWIS – Has been unlucky on occasion for his new yard this spring, hampered when coming with a strong challenge in the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot. He’s now down to a mark of 99, meaning that he is two pounds below his Wokingham mark, so he has definite claims under Danny Tudhope at his best and is respected.
8 HOOF IT – Clearly needed his reappearance when leaving it well behind to finish a great sixth in the Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood, keeping on stoutly after being headed. He is now two pounds lower here and he should start to kick on the fitter he gets. Paul Mulrennan takes the ride and he’s one to consider with conditions fine.
9 TITHONUS – Made all in game style to win two valuable handicaps at the Curragh in July and perhaps the ground was a viable excuse for his latest defeat at Galway. This track should suit as it’s a gallopers paradise and he has Gary Halpin taking off a very valuable three pounds. Each way contender for Denis Hogan.
10 EL ASTRONAUTE – Has been in great form for the majority of this season for John Quinn, winning at Goodwood on his penultimate start before another game effort when second at Chelmsford. He remains on the same mark and conditions are fine, so there is no reason why he shouldn’t go close again under Jason Hart.
11 A MOMENTOFMADNESS – Shows very bright early pace for Charlie Hills and has been running well in defeat this season, last seen at Goodwood when a short head behind El Astronaute. He is now on to a career-high mark and more is needed in a deeper race. Harry Bentley retains the ride which is positive and he should be in the hunt for placings.
12 HOOFALONG – Finished fifth in the Ayr Silver Cup back in September off a three pound higher mark, however he’s yet to find his stride this season, well beaten in two runs. He was never a threat at Ripon on his latest start and he remains on the same mark, which is discouraging. Harrison Shaw takes off seven pounds and it is best to look elsewhere, despite the return of the blinkers.
13 VERNE CASTLE – Highly progressive on the All Weather for Andrew Balding but he’s rated much lower on the turf and has a lot to prove on this surface. He was soundly beaten at Ascot in June after weakening rapidly and it’s hard to see him taking this as he’s clearly better suited to the synthetic surfaces. David Probert takes the ride but it’s best to look elsewhere on this occasion.
14 WATCHABLE – Last win came way back in September 2014 and, despite now being four pounds lower, he’s not been catching the eye in some weaker races of late. He was last seen at Chelmsford in Class 3 company where he was soundly beaten in sixth and, although a drop back in trip should suit, it’s hard to see him winning this pitched into a tougher race.
15 ROBOT BOY – Won here in October off today’s mark, however it’s hard to make a case for him based on how poor he’s been the last twice. He was well beaten at Ascot due to blowing the start on his penultimate appearance and he was never involved when seventh at the same venue on his latest start. He’s now two pounds lower but others have more obvious claims as he doesn’t arrive in any form.
16 AFANDEM – Won a Group 3 last season for Hugo Palmer, yet he’s struggled to make an impact this season, with a midfield run at Newmarket in July remaining his best effort. He’s now five pounds lower than when posting that effort but that’s due to another disappointing run at Ascot two weeks later. Josie Gordon takes over the reins, however he’s one of the unlikelier winners.
17 DESERT LAW – Capitalised on a career-low mark at Doncaster on Saturday to win a Class 3 handicap. He now goes back up in class and has to contend with a penalty here. It’s hard to see him winning this back into tougher company and, despite Luke Morris taking over, others are readily preferred.
18 MOVE IN TIME – Last win came in September 2015 in Group 3 company, but it’s been a swift fall from grace since and he was last seen at this venue when a well beaten eighth, keeping on well late but never in a challenging position. He is now two pounds lower and his close fifth here in July does suggest that he is up to placing in a race such as this off a career-low mark. James Doyle takes the ride and he’s interesting.
19 SOIE D’LEAU – Has finsihed third on his last two runs for Kristin Stubbs off today’s mark, although he was three lengths behind Desert Law when last seen on Saturday. More is clearly needed and he isn’t the most frequent of winners these days, so he may just be vulnerable under Joe Fanning on this occasion.
20 SHAMSHON – Won on his penultimate start at Newmarket for Stuart Williams, however he was a disappointing favourite at Ascot when having some excuses. He is still on a winning mark but he needs everything to fall right as he’s a hold up horse. Jim Crowley takes the ride and he has to be considered, although he’s not for the faint-hearted.