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Betfair Handicap preview

More from the Yorkshireman, this time the main handicap of the day....

The 3.05 at York may not be the flashiest on a card that includes The Lowther Stakes and The Yorkshire Oaks, but from a punting point of view, it is potentially the best race on an exquisite card. A twenty runner handicap over York’s infamous mile, a decent kitty has brought out a fair few100+ rated horses, and it looks a field of class.

The trainer who has enjoyed August like no other is Mark Johnston, and he goes mob handed at this race, with three runners. Stable jockey Joe Fanning opts for Switzerland, running with a 6lb penalty, Crown Counsel runs after a good second at Ayr last time out with Luke Morris on board, and Nicky Mackay takes the leg up on Lady Macduff. It could be folly to rule out, but none looks like being major players.

There are a further number of horses who are running out of the handicap, or due to be lowered a few pounds. In one of these big fields’ handicaps you need everything to go your way, and as such, can’t let any advantage slip, that for my money would rule out Al Muheer, Santefisio, Diamondhead and Strictly Silver.

Unlike Cheltenham, and national hunt horses in general, you rarely see horses go from festival to festival year in year out and run well, and I couldn’t conceivably see the horses that were down the field in the race last time do well, let alone the winner. Navajo Chief. He won this last year, but has had patchy form this year, his only win coming over nine furlongs here on soft ground. Up 2lb and a year older, his time may have gone again lesser exposed rivals. Similarly Invisible Man and Vainglory, who were both down the field last year behind the six year old.

That’s cut the field by half; that seemed pretty simple, wonder if the latter half will be just as simple? I doubt it.

As mentioned at the top of the article, those at the head of the weights are more likely to be the ones to be fighting out the finish, such is the competitiveness of the race, and the quality of the field, you need a bit of class to win this. Postscript won over a mile at Haydock in May and August, but is up 12lb now for those two wins, and the handicapper seems to have caught up with him. Indian Jack seems to be in the same mould, and is still on his way down to a workable mark, having not won since September last year, although the Cumani stable are in good nick. Trade Storm ran a good race in The Shergar Cup, finishing second behind Boom and Bust, but has got himself a 4lb rise for those troubles and that has likely scuppered his chances. Imperial Djay won two quick handicaps at Chester in May and June, but copped an 8lb rise for that, and is still working those pounds off, so to speak, for the Ruth Carr team.

Sandagiyr was a listed winner for Andre Fabre in France before going to Meydan, winning a Group 3, when the stable’s supposed third string, and managed to sneak home under Sylvester De Sousa. On his comeback run since then however he finished beaten twenty lengths in a German Group 2, and there are arguably more questions than answers surrounding him. Lord Aeryn is an interesting runner for Richard Fahey, winning a competitive affair last time out at Thirsk, and not overly penalised, only receiving a 2lb rise for his short head victory margin.

The remaining four will probably hold the majority of answers, with Excellent Guest being fancied in his last two runs at Ascot and Goodwood in similar contests. Going off 8/1 2f last time out at Goodwood, he was beaten by just under three lengths, finishing fifth of twenty runners to the well backed and seemingly well in Mark Johnston trained Fulbright, and given his form and consistency, he has strong plain claims. As does Prince of Johanne, a classy animal rated 105, who has dropped down to a mile this year after running over (and winning) decent events last year, his highlight and claim to fame winning The Cesarewitch last year. Dropping back to a mile, lost by a nose to Fury over course and distance off 98, and then won The Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot. Fifth in a listed race at Pontefract, and beaten five lengths behind Excellent Guest in The Betfred Mile, he should be a leading player, although a 7lb rise since his run over course and distance in may scupper him.

Aneriego is coming back after two course and distance victories for the David O’ Meara yard and the four year old possesses a very progressive profile. A well bred son of Invincible Spirit, he lost his way and came to the stable from Dermot Weld at the start of the season, and has been revitalised. Form figures of 4725211 suggest he is getting better, and although a 13lb rise, may still be unexposed. Kahruman has been well backed already, and he could be the stereotypical group horse hiding in an open handicap field. The William Haggas Mr Greeley colt was thrown in at the deep end after winning a Kempton maiden and wasn’t disgraced finishing fourth in a good looking race, before a game sixth of twenty nine in The Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Quite the conundrum then eh? Four year old’s have had a cracking record in the race, as seen with Navajo Chief last year, and they will hold the answers here again. Postscript, Indian Jack and Sandagiyr are all unexposed, and if the money were to come, they would be worth another look. Kahruman is off the same ilk, but given the connections of Sheikh Hamdan, Haggas and Hanagan, will likely be punted into next week. Given how well that man Fallon rides around The Knavesmire, and the two facile course and distance winner Anderiego won around here, he looks the one to side with. Up 13lb, but with a shrewd stable, and won with plenty up his sleeve, eased down, he could have upwards of 7lb in hand for my money, and with the pace up front in abundance, he will likely have the race set up for him.

Lord Aeryn
Prince of Johanne

The Yorkshireman - Jack Milner - @JJMSports


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