An ultra competitive Class 2 handicap for the stayers, with more than £43,500 on the line to the winner. Our runner by runner preview and free tip for the contest are below.
IN SUMMARY: SHREWD is a past winner at this track as well as runner up in the 2016 Ebor. A two pound lower mark for that run, plus the help of another seven pounds from the claimer on his back leave him dangerously well in returned to the Knavesmire. Euchen Glen proved his stamina for this trip last time out. He is unexposed as a stayer and looks the biggest threat to the selection. Seamour and Penglai Pavillion are others to consider in an open stayers handicap.
1 ORIENTAL FOX – Dour stayer, he won the Queen Alexandra at Royal Ascot for the second time back in June. Three runs at York have all been respectable, including fifth and sixth in two editions of the Ebor. Beaten a short head from a pound higher in the 2015 Cesarewitch, he has still got that level of form in his legs, even at the age of nine. A win should be beyond him, but a place would be no surprise.
2 PLATITUDE – Picked up a mile and six furlong Listed race at Goodwood last season. He has struggled to get close to that form in three runs this time round, not looking the most resolute stayer when tried at that same trip on a stiffer track. Worth a try at two miles as the cadence may allow him to travel sweeter for longer, however his stamina has to be a concern.
3 SEAMOUR – Struggled in general since going through the handicap ranks in 2015. He threw away the Northumberland Plate last season, hanging once he hit the front. Has the talent required to make his mark back in handicap company on turf, but needs things to drop perfectly for him these days.
4 PENGLAI PAVILLION – Winner of the Cesarewitch Trial last September, he hasn’t raced in Britain since, last seen at Randwick in Australia. He has a seven pound higher mark to contend with here, as well as not having been in action for four months. Each way squeak at his best, but he may find others stronger late on.
5 YORKIDDING – Typically gutsy Mark Johnston mare, she has twice got her head in front this season on quick ground. This is a more competitive race than either of those, with a career high mark for her to try to defy. Should run her usual honest race, yet it’s difficuly to see that being good enough in this company.
6 SAIGON CITY – Winner over this course and distance on his only visit, he got the better of Oriental Fox when they met at Newmarket earlier in the season. Kept under wraps, waiting for softer ground, it was a disappointing effort he put in at Goodwood last time under the circumstances. The step back up in trip is going to suit, but he will need to find more again to win.
7 SHREWD – Shaped well, staying on from the back in the Galway Hurdle last time, he has won on the Knavesmire so the track suits. Seven pounds off his back courtesy of Connor Murtagh are also a tidy help to his chances. He hasn’t quite been at his best this campaign, but back on this track is a big plus. A course winner, he was runner-up in the 2016 Ebor from two pounds higher and is a big each way player.
8 SUEGIOO – Formerly classy, he hasn’t got his head in front since landing the Chester Cup in May 2014. Despite that more than three year dry spell, he is still three pounds higher than that winning mark. Runner-up to Yorkidding at Haydock in May is his only notable form this campaign, so has no more than an outside chance of making the frame.
9 MAGIC CIRCLE – Hugely progressive for being gelded, he climbed more than three stone in the handicap through 2015 and 2016. Unsurprisingly, given that level of improvement, he has found his ceiling this year, struggling to get competitive in similar races to this so far. He has won over this course and distance which is a plus, but it isn’t enough to persuade that he can be victorious.
10 MY REWARD – Enjoying a strong campaign, following a Ripon win with a fifth in the Northumberland Plate before a close fourth at Glorious Goodwood. He once again has an each way chance if he is able to reproduce those efforts. However, the best of his form has come when allowed to front run and that luxury may not be afforded him here.
11 OCEANE – Winner of this race last year from seven pounds lower, he has struggled so far in 2017. A first-time visor replaces his usual cheekpieces in a bid to try to find the key to bring him back to form. The new headgear needs to help him improve considerably if he is to win this but, in a strongly run race, he may pick plenty off late in the day.
12 CARTWRIGHT – Beaten out of sight in a pair of turf handicaps this season, behind Saigon City at Newmarket then trailing a number of these at Royal Ascot. Another who climbed the weights quickly, he’s now struggling with the extra demands of the handicapper. Needs a return to form to get involved at the business end of this contest.
13 EDGE OF SANITY – Won this race back in 2014, he again relished this course and distance when third to Theydon Grey last time out. Three pounds better off for a length and a half beating, he is entitled to reverse the placings, even more so given that was his first run for well over two years. Less than six weeks to recover is a slight concern, but he is a big player if avoiding the bounce factor.
14 STAR RIDER – Strong stayer, she has shown very little in three starts on the flat this year having not enjoyed going hurdling over the winter. She acts on any ground and is just two pounds higher than her last win so a case can be made for her. Even so, she is hard to be confident about on what she has produced in 2017.
15 THEYDON GREY – Has struck up quite the relationship with Georgia Cox, winning all three starts with her aboard, all of which came on this track. The last of them was over this trip which proved his stamina, albeit at a lower level. Cox is great value for her claim as she showed on Saturday when scoring on Squats at Newbury. Needs to improve again, but that’s not beyond the realms of possibility.
16 ISHARAH – Finished last on his most recent two starts, taking his turf record to 0/8 at Ascot when last seen. His turf mark rose in conjunction with his All Weather one following a hat-trick on the sand at the turn of the year. That has left him vulnerable and he would be a surprise winner.
17 EUCHEN GLEN – Produced a career best when winning the Shergar Cup Stayers last time out. That proved his stamina for the trip, doing well to come from last in a steadily run contest. Unexposed as a stayer, there should be further improvement to come, with this bigger field possibly the key to unlocking his potential.