The forecast rain did reach the Knavesmire on Thursday with the ground easing to Good, although the time for the first race suggested it was still on the fast side of good, after conditions that resembled the A64 on the opening day.
You would need to go a long way to see a better performance than that put up by Derby winner Australia in the feature Juddmonte International and there was no hint of arrogance when Aidan O’Brien suggested they took him to York because he was ready for a racecourse gallop. He’s some horse although I wouldn’t be in a rush to back him for the Arc (6/1 at BetVictor) in Paris as in my opinion he is very unlikely to run.
The Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes is the feature this afternoon and confidence in Sole Power is tempered by the rain and also the fact that Edward Lynam suggested the horse had had an interrupted passage since winning at Royal Ascot.
He is the most likely winner (11/4 at BetVictor) but if there is a fly in the anointment it could be the progressive French colt Rangali (3.40), who was very impressive in a decent time at Chantilly when last seen in June and can reward each way support at 14/1.
The opener is a cracker and I felt Communicator was very interesting off this mark having run very well in the Shergar Cup last time and his turn is near but would he just prefer slight softer ground?
It’s hard to imagine this will be Jamie Spencer’s last York after announcing his retirement from the saddle at the end of the season and Gabrial The Hero must run well. Preference is for Dolphin Village (1.55) on a hat-trick for Richard Fahey. The four-year-old was pulled out of a race on the opening day when connections realised they had got into today’s contest and he again merits each way consideration at 14/1 with BetVictor.
Pale Mimosa would have been a confident selection for the Lonsdale Cup had there been significant rain, but it would not surprise me if Dermot Weld pulled his mare out on account of the underfoot conditions which would be a shame. Marginal preference is for Times Up (2.30) a past winner of the race when trained by John Dunlop and now with his son Ed whose string are firing after a slow start. At 9/1 with BetVictor he can reward each way support.
The listed City Of York Stakes looks a minefield but Rerouted (3.05), owned in partnership by golfer Lee Westwood, ran a cracker at Salisbury over a mile from a poor draw and is yet another each way selection for South African trainer Mike de Kock who has been based in Newmarket this summer.
The 7f maiden is a hot event with Swot (4.20) looking to break his maiden at the second attempt having run with such promise over six on debut when going down by a short head.
The obvious danger is the Hannon juvenile Acaster Malbis another who found just one too good on debut but in this instance on soft ground. Any number of big stables have well-bred newcomers in the field and the market should be checked for confidence behind Mount Tahan and Muffarreh especially.
In the finale Mooharib (4.55) just gets the vote over Munaaser in another ultra-competitive handicap. The selection might have been given too much to do at Ascot last time having won his two previous starts and he might be able to fend off the challenge of Munaaser who looked a different proposition last time following a gelding operation in mid-summer. The handicapper has raised him 12lbs but he has never gone off bigger than 5/1 in any of his six career starts and had obviously not been putting it all in before the cruellest cut of all.
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