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Gimcrack Stakes preview

The final day of the Ebor Festival isn't just about Britain's best staying handicap, there's also a great little juvenile race to savour. Covering the race with an eagle eye is another blog debutant, the astute judge Wayne Butcher. You can follow him via @WayneSButcher.


Gimcrack Stakes

The Gimcrack Stakes is the feature two year old race of the York Ebor Festival and this year takes place on the final day of the prestigious meeting. Despite the race being named in memory of Gimcrack, who won twenty seven of his thirty six race career, this race has not been a great pointer to future classic success, with plenty of ultimately disappointing horses littering the recent roll of honour. The major exception being the superstar Rock of Gibraltar, who was successful in 2001 and went onto classic success the following year.

The Gimcrack Stakes forms the fourth two-year-old six furlong Group 2 race of the major summer festivals, following the Coventry at Ascot, the July Stakes at Newmarket and the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood, and it’s the Goodwood feature in which we start our preview for this year's renewal, with Saayerr narrowly defeating Cable Bay.

Saayerr and Cable Bay

Saayerr was successful that day, bouncing back from a disappointing run at Royal Ascot and inflicting a quarter of a length defeat on Cable Bay, who re-opposes on three pounds better terms. However it appeared the step up in trip really suited Saayerr and under a typically strong Ryan Moore ride, Saayerr appeared in control at the end of that contest. It's difficult to be confident that Cable Bay can turn the form around but the weight pull paired with the experience of a group race duel gives his supporters hope. There appears no reason why both should not be bang there once again, and the Richmond forecast could well become the Gimcrack forecast.


The Coventry Stake at the Royal meeting was a one horse race as War Command scooted to victory, with Parbold back in second. Both have been beaten since but Parbold runs for local trainer Richard Fahey, hoping to bounce back from just a satisfactory third at Goodwood in the Vintage Stakes over seven furlongs. However that day he was niggled early to maintain a position and I'm not entirely certain the drop back to York's sharp six furlongs on lightning fast ground is what Parbold wants and would pass him over on this occasion.


Newmarket's July Stakes is the last piece of the Group 2 form jigsaw, and only Astaire, from the Kevin Ryan stable, competed in that contest and finished sixth. Whilst on the face of it, sixth would seem a little disappointing, it should be remembered that Astaire led a furlong out, only to find the Newmarket hill combined with his early keenness to contribute to his laboured finish. Since then Astaire duly bolted up in a small conditions race at the same track and this easier track and smaller field may well be his cup of tea (Yorkshire obviously) and he is an interesting alternative to consider to the market leaders.

Wilshire Boulevard

Turning our heads across the Irish Sea, Ballydoyle, already buoyant from Declaration of War's shock Juddmonte win, run the experienced Wilshire Boulevard, who already boasts five runs under his belt. It appeared that Wilshire Boulevard was one of the yard's lesser lights evidenced by a midfield finish in the Windsor Castle but the step up to six furlongs on fast ground at the Curragh last time seemed to eke further improvement, when taking the Anglesey Stakes. Unpenalised for this he should run his race again, although it would be possibly a tad disappointing if he was able to win and a place may be his best hope.

My Catch

There are no French raiders in the line-up but My Catch has spent plenty of time in France this season with two victories to his name, the last coming in the Group Three Prix De Cabourg. The runner-up Al Muthana has since been stuffed in last weekend's Prix Morny and this combined with the likely faster surface tempers my enthusiasm for this otherwise progressive juvenile.

Justice Day

The last horse to make up the seven strong line-up is Justice Day, already twice successful from five starts and providing connections with plenty of fun. However he seems to have hit a plateau on form, as demonstrated by a midfield finish at Ascot last time and it would seem sensible to overlook him today, with it more likely for Lord Lucan to be witnessed on the winner's podium come 3.20 on Saturday.


On paper a much better renewal than of late, and plenty to ponder, though I'm not sure we have a Rock of Gibraltar lurking. The selection is Saayerr on the basis of an excellent win in the Richmond, with Cable Bay likely to be close to his quarters again. Of the rest, this track should suit Astaire and he should make a bold bid from the front to keep the prize in Yorkshire, whilst the likely faster conditions may count against recent dual French score My Catch. Based on the Vintage Stakes, Parbold appears to want further.


1. Saayerr
2. Cable Bay
3. Astaire
4. Wilshire Boulevard


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