Race Time: 2.20pm Meeting: York
Distance: 1m 6f
Full Race Name: Stowe Family Law LLP Grand Cup (Listed race) Class One
A bit more of a stamina test here sees some class acts heading to the track (ground permitting), possibly looking to see if they are up to a shot at something even bigger at Royal Ascot (you never know, if we have a head in chest winner all things are possible). Sadly, half of the original fancies ran at Sandown yesterday instead including impressive winner Vent De Force, so we need to regroup and start almost afresh.
Michael Bell seems to have his Newmarket string in fine fettle of late and if he sends Big Orange (8/1) here then he would most certainly be on our shortlist. Still only a four year old, he won three races last season at Lingfield, Chester, and Ascot, before finding better races on softer ground seemingly all against him at Ascot (again) and then Chester first time out this season. Of all the runners he looks the one most open to improvement with another winter on his back, and he already looks very difficult to keep out of the frame with trip and going likely to be right up his street and his fourth place return sure to have put him spot on for his next engagement. Trainer Ed Dunlop had various interesting options here but has decided to rely on Red Galileo (9/1) and Times Up with our narrow preference for the first named. On breeding this mile and three quarters is beyond his range but he did run in well at Ascot when seeming to stay on well over a mile and a half, but with his race record of one win from fifteen runs he will not be carrying our money this afternoon and we feel others have better chances, on paper at least.
Peter Niven is better known as a jumps trainer to be fair but in Clever Cookie (7/2) he has a class act who has proved he is good enough to mix it at this sort of level on the flat. His Group Three win in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester was dogged more than impressive but he did it well enough though that does mean he has to give weight away all round here thanks to a six pound penalty for that particular success, and on possibly quicker ground that may narrowly be beyond him (we will soon find out). Andrew Balding is a trainer we really like and he sends Nabatean (6/1) here this afternoon – what a shame the yard seem short of winners of late which is enough to put us off if only just. As for the horse, well he won first time out this season which is unusual for the yard, hacking up in a class three handicap with any amount in hand – but this is a whole different ball game at Listed level. Even though his rating has been put up nine pounds for that win it still leaves him a little short of the required level here, though he may well improve again for the run and make fools of all of us. Wakea (7/1) would be out last option of choice for Jeremy Noseda having won two of his four races already this season. The son of Cape Cross stays further having won over two miles at Kempton but has yet to win on the turf after three attempts and having seen Tryster fail dismally on Thursday night on grass, we simply cannot suggest him here.