Race Time: 2.20pm Meeting: York Distance: 7f
Full Race Name: Win £5000 With sportinglife.com Pick 6 Stakes (Handicap) Class Two
One of those Saturday handicaps that sees an equal mix of improvers taking on the better horses who have been out of sorts in recent (better) races, so what do we make of those on show at the early declarations stage? The twenty-five early runners comprised of seven three year olds, nine four year olds, and nine older horses, while we had six winners last time out, and a further nine who placed in the first four home – so quite a conundrum at first glance! Statistics can help even if they never provide a definitive answer but interestingly, in the seven years of this race, not once has a three year old taken the spoils (though only the nine in total have ever tried) – coincidence or race conditions, you tell me? Only one favourite and one joint favourite have scored with odds up to 8/1, so no outsiders either and a single figure starting price historically a necessity. Trainer David O’Meara is the only man to have won it twice and as he was responsible for three of the declared he seemed as good a place to start as any, with last year’s winner Alejandro (5/1) surely his main hope of the two remaining entries? The son of Dark Angel may not have been in the best of form so far this season with a fourth to Emell at Haydock possibly his best effort but he has been dropping down the weights, and gets in here four pounds lower than when taking the race last season, which has to be a major positive. Danny Tudhope is back in the saddle having returned from injury and he knows the horse better than most having ridden him on five occasions, and he must be on anyone’s each way short list if the price is large enough, of course? Only two of the remaining twelve declared actually won last time out, and we all know a horse in good form is one we want to keep on our side. Tim Jarvis trains Above The Rest (7/1) who has been put up six pounds for Haydock win but may just still be improving with any luck? He is relatively lightly raced for a four year old handicapper with just the eleven races on the clock, and with a win or place in six of them (over 50%), we can at least call him consistent. Normally, I would not expect him to be good enough to get involved in a race of this standard but a poor turnout has left him with place chances at the very least, and if you fancy his chances, we won’t try too hard to put you off!
Athletic (8/1) is the other horse who managed to get his head in front last time out, and Andrew Reid will have him fine tuned for a repeat performance if at all possible. He looked as if he had a bit left up his sleeve at Newmarket which would be enough to negate the four pounds weight increase, while the excellent Jenny Powell is good value for her five pound claim but again, we just get the feeling that maybe he ought to be a bit outclassed by some of these – though he may well prove us all wrong once again, of course? Naturally, every Northern handicap seems to need the obligatory Richard Fahey runner and in this case, we are talking about Withernsea (10/1), who looked as if he was running in to form when runner up at Newcastle over six furlongs only to disappoint when last seen here at York. He may have only finished eighth behind Jallota that day but he wasn’t actually beaten all that far (just over four lengths), but was behind Alejandro there and is worse off at the weights today so in theory, has no chance.
For one last option (and an each way one, hopefully), how about the Charlie Hills trained Captain Bob (8/1)? Although not exactly a repetitive winner, the four year old ran his best race for some time at Ascot in first time headgear when runner up to Scottish Glen at Ascot. That was a lower class contest and he has been put up a pound for the privilege, but he is running in to form at exactly the right time and if a decent price is a very serious consideration for the win this afternoon with his stable winning decent enough races almost at will!