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Strensall Stakes preview

More quality action from York, this time previewed by Mark Rowntree, @uptheirons007. If you'd like to read more of his great work, try his blog.

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Strensall Stakes preview

Friday sees day three of the Ebor Festival at York, and a cracking card which includes the Sky Bet Group 3 Strensall Stakes run over 1 mile and 208 yards (effectively nine furlongs). The race – named after a village to the North of York – is open to three year olds and upwards, with previous Group 3 winners carrying a 4lb penalty, fillies receiving a 3lb weight concession from colts and geldings and three year olds receiving a 7lb weight concession from older horses.

Analysis

The sole pair of three year olds in the contest are no strangers to each other. Stipulate and Tales of Grimm have met recently on two occasions, with Sir Henry Cecil’s colt Stipulate coming out on top on both occasions. Stipulate was a well supported 6/1 shot when finishing fourth behind the dead heaters Archbishop and Trumpet Major in the Group 3 RSA Thoroughbred Stakes at Goodwood. Tales of Grimm could only finish seventh and reopposes on the same terms. Furthermore, Stipulate also appears to hold Tales of Grimm based upon their respective second and fifth placings in Trecentenary Stakes behind German winner Energizer at Royal Ascot in June. The trip at York should be ideal for Stipulate who has won twice from eight career starts including over nine furlongs at Newmarket in April. On the other hand, connections still seem to be searching for a trip with Tales of Grimm. A winner of a seven furlong maiden at Newbury last August, he’s been tried over a variety of distances upto 10f since. Barry Simpson racing manager to Sir Robert Ogden has indicated that the one time 2000 Guineas hopeful “needs to grow up mentally and be more professional in his races”. However, York is expected to suit the Sir Michael Stoute colt given his preference for a flat track, and he’ll receive plenty of assistance from Keiran Fallon up top. However, based upon the clear evidence on the racetrack to date, one would expect Stipulate to win the battle of the younger horses.

Barefoot Lady not only represents the fillies in the contest, but also provides the hopes of a Yorkshire winner, and the sole chance of keeping the prize in the North. The superbly named Footstepsinthesand filly has been mixing it in good company all year, including behind Izzi Top in the Musidora at York in May, Clinical in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom in June, Joviality in the Windsor Forest at Royal Ascot, and more recently when sixth in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket in July. Since the Falmouth Stakes, she has appeared on the Knavesmire at York in late July landing a richly deserved success in a listed contest. Although stepping back up in grade here, as her schedule testifies she’s clearly a tough and honest filly, with an ability to handle an extended 10 furlong trip. This suggests she’ll be doing her best work at the business end of the Strensall Stakes.

William Haggas landed this race in 2011 with Green Destiny. He relies upon Fury to repeat the dose this year. Fury has been on the go since early doors when finishing a fine third to Brae Hill in the Lincoln. Furthermore he’s no stranger to York, and this trip. After landing the Betfred Hambleton Stakes Handicap over C&D in May when seeing off Prince of Johanne in a thrilling battle, he was a shade disappointing in Group 3 company at Chantilly behind Vagabond Shoes in the grandly named Prix du Chemin de Fer du Nord. Most recently he met another of today’s rivals Dubai Prince in a four runner Class 3 Conditions contest at York in mid July. Although sent off at odds of Evens, he was beaten four and a half lengths by the Godolphin horse. This was a fine effort by the talented Dubai Prince on his first UK start of the year. He’s clearly been given time to get over his exertions at the Dubai carnival at Meydan in March and this represents his third start in just over five weeks. After York, he could only manage sixth of seven behind Quest for Peace over 12 furlongs at Goodwood. This trip clearly stretched his stamina, and he’ll be suited by a drop back to nine furlongs. Furthermore, Godolphin have a good record in this contest over the years, so their entrant must be given maximum respect.

Questioning represents the powerful John Gosden and William Buick combination. The colt has been twice the best man to Pentinent early in 2012, most notably in the Group 2 Bet 365 Mile on Heavy ground at Sandown. Since then he’s faced some difficult assignments when fourth of seven over ten furlongs at Chantilly behind Marco Botti’s Marcret, and when seventh of eight in the Summer Mile at Royal Ascot behind shock winner Fanunalter. This Group 3 contest is arguably his best winning opportunity of the season, and coming into the race off the back of a break, he should go well. Tazahum a four time winner at a trip of eight furlongs at shorter on both turf and all weather is strictly speaking well held by Questioning on their meeting at Newmarket earlier in the season (April) when the latter was victorious. However, Tazahum at least brings recent winning form into the contest, having justified favouritism in a small field recently at Newmarket accounting for Balducci. Additionally, he’s been lightly campaigned and neither trip nor ground at the Knavesmire will hold any fears.

Side Glance is the oldest horse in the race and we all know plenty about Andrew Balding’s admirable five year old gelding. He earns a Group 3 penalty for this contest, having landed the Diomed Stakes at Epsom in June from Dance and Dance. He’s best judged on this contest, and it gives him an outstanding chance here at York. Since Epsom, he had the misfortune to meet the indestructible Frankel in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, but performed as well as could be expected in finishing third. Most recently, he ran well at York, when perhaps finding the 1m2f+ trip a shade too far behind Sri Putra and Afsare in the Sky Bet Stakes (Group 2). Side Glance has earned his penalty for this contest, and must surely be on the premises back at this level.

Verdict

A fascinating contest run over somewhat of a specialist distance. Although proven milers should see this extra furlong out on a flat track such as York, there are horses with proven form over further who will put this theory to the test. Although up in class, I like the chance of Barefoot Lady at reasonable odds. Clearly she has something to find with the likes of Side Glance and the improving three year old Stipulate, but she’s worth a small interest nevertheless. On the other hand, I’d be happy to take on Fury who has been on the go now for a number of months and seems to have left his better form behind as the ground has began to dry up more recently. There is no evidence to suggest that he can reverse the form with recent conqueror Dubai Prince.

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