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Great St Wilfrid Stakes preview

The British racing spotlight heads towards Yorkshire, next week for the Ebor Festival at York, but firstly for the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon, 'Yorkshire's Garden Racecourse'. High class handicap racing, I love it. Taking the reins is the shrewd Stephen Boardman, @ste_b85. You can read more of his work on his site, TheRacingGuru.

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Great St Wilfrid Stakes

HOOF IT
Brilliant in 2011 when taking the Sky Bet Dash, Stewards' Cup and placing a Grp1 company. Only a handful of runs since and doesn't appear to have the old sparkle back yet; others preferred.

CAPTAIN RAMIUS
Solid 4th in this last year off 7lbs lower before going on to land the Ayr Gold Cup. That race will be the aim again, so this likely to prove a stepping stone after a nice Summer break; classy but has bigger aspirations.

BORDERLESCOTT
Another of the older brigade and he was actually pulled out of retirement to race again this season. Drop back to handicap company will suit better than last two contests but hard to fancy an 11yo winning this; passed over.

LOUIS THE PIOUS
Talented on his day and showed that when 3rd here last year from 3lbs lower than today. Last two runs have been promising (beat subsequent winner then 7th in Stewards' Cup) and trainer won this last two years; could go well.

SPINATRIX
Never out of the first three in seven attempts shows how much she loves the place. Mark is now high, so needs to improve. Has struck up a good partnership with young Beasley though and no surprise to see a big run; respected.

PRODIGALITY
Another coming back to the scene of one of his better efforts when 2nd in the consolation race here last year. Handy 7lbs taken off to balance out his steep mark but could have burnt out from a lot of racing this season.

SECRET WITNESS
Showed his well-being with a battling display to finish 2nd at HQ just over a week ago. Form has been hit and miss generally so hard to enthuse too much about his chances in a better quality field.

BLAINE
Hasn't hit the heights again after winning his first two starts last year as a 2yo. Still finds himself rated 100 and will need some rest-bite from that mark one would imagine before he's seen to great effect once more.

REGAL PARADE
Heading into his time of year, as he showed in 2012 with a few really strong pieces of form. Dropping down the weights to an appealing looking mark but impossible to fancy in current vein of form; others appeal more.

CONFESSIONAL
Somewhat of a standing dish in these big sprints and some of his back form from this sort of mark gives him a chance today. He's another though that hasn't been that reliable this term and others arrive here in much better form.

POLSKI MAX
Seems to have gone off the boil since starting the season with a bang following two good wins. No 3yo winner of this in the last ten years shows the stats are against him too and he'd need a sudden improvement in form to land this.

DR RED EYE
Handicapper seems to have him in his grasp off this mark since he came up to this level following two wins at Chester. Was always likely to struggle in the Stewards' Cup on latest start and probably will do again today.

RODRIGO DE TORRES
Just hung on to win the Scottish Stewards' Cup two starts back and struggled next time out in the Sky Bet Dash. Certainly has claims though with the 5lbs taken off and likely to set a brisk pace for the low numbers to try and pass him.

BACCARAT
A lightly raced and unexposed sort who has run with promise in two big handicaps of late, being unlucky in both. Already has a win over CD to his name and easy to see why he's a leading fancy in this for crack Northern trainer.

EL VIENTO
Won the consolation race last year off 6lbs lower and his latest 7th place finish at Goodwood is better than it looks after not having much room. Plenty to like about him and has the potential to go well.

SUMMERINTHECITY
Is having a good season for Dandy Nicholls and his recent 2nd to Tropics reads very well. Will need to pull more out of the bag now though off revised mark and niggling doubt that he'll be able to do that.

ZACYNTHUS
Interesting runner having his first start for Kevin Ryan after leaving Cumani. First try at 6f after he's been running well this season over 7f; he's with a trainer who can improve horses. Could easily outrun his current odds.

PEARL ICE
Another to like it here having a win and a second to his name from two starts. Hasn't hit the heights that were expected when he joined the Barron team last year. But he's on a workable mark here and the yard are in cracking form; chances.

THUNDERBALL
Certainly has the ability to land a prize such as this off this kind of mark as he's demonstrated a few times in the past, including here. The signs are the rain he desperately needs won't come though and that will hinder his chances dramatically.

DICK BOSS
Another with a fine record here (one win; one second) and has been running with superb credit in some fine handicaps this season. Needs to show he can win from this sort of mark though and this is another tough race in which to try and do it.

SUMMARY

Ripon's finest race of the year and one which this time around has thrown together a number of horses with excellent course form. Baccarat heads the betting and he could indeed be better than anything on the day after looking unlucky in his last two runs. However, at the price he's worth taking on with a couple and they come in the shape of PEARL ICE (10/1; win) and ZACYNTHUS (25/1; ew). You could make a case for a number of these but I've come down on the side of the David Barron runner. Both times he's visited this course he's run well, with a win and a second to his name, and he's always been a horse that his trainer has rated highly. They tried to get him into the Wokingham last season in a plan that didn't work out, but he's effectively running off a mark of 88 today with his claimers allowance and while the yard are in red hot form (39% strike rate over the last 14 days) he's worth taking a chance on to land the big prize he has always threatened to. Hopefully he'll get a nice tow into the race. The second of my selections does not deserve to be such a huge price and must be the each way steal of the contest. He should prove fruitful for his new connections and it's interesting they throw him straight into a hot race like this for his first try over 6f. He should be staying on at the end.

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