Race Time: 2.35pm Meeting: York
Full Race Name: JCB Stakes (Handicap) (Class 2)
As we have said before seven furlongs is very much a specialist distance – too far for some of the sprinters, and that bit too quick for the milers, so the first place we always visit is our very own short list of distance winners, or better still course and distance winners if at all possible. Yorkshire trainer David O’Meara seems to quite fancy the idea of the £25,000 or so first prize and is responsible for no less than three of the runners this afternoon – and both of the course and distance (CD) winners to boot! So Beloved (8/1) in lumbered with nine stone twelve this afternoon after winning here over this seven furlongs a fortnight ago.
He was clearly in a going mood that day on good ground when he scored with any amount in hand, resulting in a weight rise of eight pounds, which seems a little harsh to put it politely but he was visually so impressive that he is very difficult to oppose regardless. Alejandro (25/1) is the other CD in the field for the same yard, though he has appeared to be off the boil so far in 2015. He was stone cold last behind his stablemate here in his last race, beaten seventeen lengths, and although he is nine pounds better off with the winner, it is stretching the realms of reality to think he can turn it around even on the new improved terms.
Jamie Spencer rides Free Code (10/1) for David Barron and as he is looking for the hat trick, he must arrive here with every chance of further success. His win at Newcastle was the more impressive of the two but he showed heart to regain the leas after being passed by Above The Rest at Doncaster, and it is that will to win that could yet hold him in good stead here. He may not have the class of many of these but beauty is as beauty does and he is getting the wins on the board which may yet be all that counts – we just cant see him winning again today. Trainer Charlie Hills hasn’t really had one of his better seasons to date but the good thing about that is that there are plenty of his horses who could prove to be well weighted and who is to say whether Jallota (16/1) fits that category?
Some below par efforts in Dubai saw his rating slowly drop from 102 to 97 from a career high of 112 last September but there were signs of the green shoots of recovery last time out when he was a half length second to Loving Spirit at Chester from an admittedly favourable draw in the two stall, a factor that is just about enough to stop us recommending him here, even though we are pretty confident of a very good run. Lastly, we still feel Highland Colori (22/1) has more races in him even at the age of seven. His form this year has been a bit disappointing, especially last time out when only seventh behind So Beloved (beaten ten and a half lengths and only three pounds better off today), but he is working a lot better than that at the Balding yard, and there is every chance of a better run from the gelding today.