Saturday’s York preview

Jamie Spencer has a chance aboard ESCOBAR on Saturday at York.


1.50 SYMPHONY GROUP STRENSALL STAKES (GROUP 3) (Class 1) (3yo+) Winner £56,710 6 runners 1m177y

ESCOBAR is the type of horse that Jamie Spencer excels on off a strong pace and could get that here in a truly run race. He absolutely bolted up on the bit over the course on his second last run and then was very unlucky at Goodwood when not getting the clearest of runs. His three runs in the last month or so have been very consistent and I can see another big run here at a very fair price. David O’Meara has his team in fine form. The colors this horse will wear are that of a dartboard and it could be Jamie Spencer and Escobar hitting the bulls-eye here.

Trainer Sir Mark Prescott

2.25 MELROSE HANDICAP (HERITAGE HANDICAP) (Class 2) (3yo 0-105) Winner £77,813 13 runners 1m5f188y Good

Sir Mark Prescott is a trainer that I pay plenty of attention to when he sneaks a potential improver into the bottom of the weights for a decent pot like this. LAND OF OZ was only successful on the 15th of August so he will be well prepared for this in terms of race fitness. He has won four out of his five runs this season and has gone up a total of 24lbs in the handicap. His last win suggested to me that there was a little more in the tank as he was always holding the runner up and stayed on strongly. He has been campaigned over 2m prior to that so his stamina will be his main asset up the long home straight of the Knavesmire. Solid each way value in a competitive race.

3.00 CITY OF YORK STAKES (GROUP 2) (Class 1) (3yo+) Winner £127,598 10 runners 7f Good

SPEAK IN COLOURS went into my notebook after being very unlucky at Goodwood on his last run when doing all his running late on after getting slightly blocked in the run. He won nicely at the Curragh prior to that and this sort of track could give him plenty of time to get into a rhythm and wind up a late charge. He finished fourth to Blue Point in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot and that looks very solid form in terms of this race. In terms of the market he is a very fair price and will be very hard to keep out of the frame.

3.40 EBOR HANDICAP (HERITAGE HANDICAP) (Class 2) (4yo+) Winner £600,000 22 runners 1m5f188y Good

The big race on the final day and it is loaded with a mixture of flat and national hunt horses and the value is there if we can find something that is nicely handicapped. Willie Mullins is double handed here and the most interesting run for me is the mare TRUE SELF. Her last run there was most definitely something amiss for my eyes but she was reported to be post race normal after being examined. If she can bounce back from that poor run she has all the attributes to run a very big race here. The good to firm ground may have been too quick for her last time so good ground here should be perfect or a little rain would do her chances no harm whatsoever. Colin Keane rides here for Ger Lyons so he cannot renew the partnership with her but there is a very able deputy in Donnacha O’Brien. The double figure odds here look quite attractive to me and she is one to keep on the right side of for the maestro that is Willie Mullins.

Joseph O’Brien

4.10 JULIA GRAVES ROSES STAKES (LISTED RACE) (Class 1) (2yo) Winner £39,697 13 runners 5f Good

Having previously mentioned how unlucky Speak In Color’s trained by Joseph O’Brien was at Goodwood, his stablemate ALLIGATOR ALLEY is in the same boat because for me everything went wrong last time out  and he done well to finish as close as he did. Liberty Beach has franked the form a small bit by finishing second in the Lowther on Thursday. This looks to be a weaker race than the one at Goodwood and with improvement to come he will be very hard to beat. The straight track at Navan played to his advantage when he was very impressive and the track here could be a major bonus to him. My Nap Of Day 4.

4.45 HANDICAP (Class 2) (3yo+ 0-105) Winner £43,575 17 runners 1m2f56y Good

JOHNNY DRAMA formerly trained by Ger Lyons is another horse who went into the notebook after Goodwood as he was very unlucky in the run when he was stopped numerous times and ended up being beaten just over three lengths. He was very impressive in an all the way win at Roscommon under Colin Keane earlier in the season when beating Charcor. For those of you who have followed Killarney this week you would have seen Charcor finish a very close second behind High Altitude on Wednesday. Andrew Balding would have been very happy with Johnny Dramas first run for his yard and should he be able to improve him a few pounds more he will be very competitive here. He likes to be prominent in his races  and dropping him in and looking for a run can be a little problematic. This track is expansive so I could see him coming out wide late and fast and picking them up close home.

5.20 APPRENTICE HANDICAP (Class 2) (3yo 0-105) Winner £43,575 20 runners 5f Good

PASS THE VINO was a recent big priced winner for the previews back at Newmarket and I expect him to go very close here. He has gone up 13lb since that win and was second in his last two runs. His run on Shergar Cup day at Ascot was very strong and was just outpaced close home under Hayley Turner. The mark of 98 still slightly underestimates his chance here and I think there is still plenty more to come. Darragh Keenan is a very capable pilot here and with luck in running he will go close here. Big run expected.

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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article