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Clipper Logistics Handicap preview

Returning after tipping up Blaine to win the Festival opener at double figure odds, it's @chrisday100....

Clipper Logistics Handicap
15.05 York Class 2


For many, myself included, the real betting races of the Ebor meeting are the handicaps. A winner in one of these can pay for a nice half term break with the kids in October or a trip to the Arc.

The Clipper Logistics Handicap at 3.05 on Thursday is such a contest with the race being analysed by many with a view to finding the Cambridgeshire in early October.

A win prize of almost £50000 ensures that entrants will be taking Thursday’s race seriously though and you can bet there’ll be at least 6 fighting it out at the furlong marker, meaning you’ll need a few pounds in hand to land it.

In predicted order of SP, Sir Michael Stoute fields favourite Russian Realm, who was made favourite for the Royal Hunt Cup, a race I’m sure he’d have gone very well in after scooting up at Goodwood in May but inexplicably he went for the wrong race, opting to try seven furlongs instead. He had a bad draw then and the same at Sandown last time when shaping as if still in form and must go well. The trouble with him, like so many of his trainer’s older handicappers, is his price and he’s passed over for that reason. My feeling is also that 10 furlongs will suit him even better.

Parbold, from a stable who love to have winners here, was second in last year’s Coventry before going off 4-1 off a 6lbs higher mark than Thursday’s in the Free Handicap at Newmarket since when his form has seemed to stall but 105 is a winnable mark and the weight for age allowance makes him look attractively weighted. Price the only snag again so we’ll look elsewhere.

Third in the betting is Short Squeeze, who looked a horse to follow when dotting up at this meeting off 82 last season but now 20lbs higher and not really shaping as if coming to form. In a stable tour the trainer stated that he needs to settle in front to show his best, a tactic likely to be hard to achieve from stall 18 but, if he does manage it, an in running play after a couple of furlongs could pay dividends.

Top Notch Tonto could be a handicap blot off 108 with a 7lb claimer on board on his 2nd in last year’s QE11 but he’s not looked the same horse this season and 10-1 for an out of form horse who could run well is too short for me.

Gabrial’s Kaka was second on his only run at the track and won the Spring Cup at Newbury in April which he followed up with a creditable 2nd in a big Haydock handicap. He clearly enjoys flat left handed tracks and has a solid chance from just a 2lbs higher mark.

Laffan has surprisingly never run at York but is 7lbs higher than winning a less competitive event at Newcastle last time out and would have to be better than ever to win this and Boom And Bust is reasonably handicapped but 7 years old and unlikely to have the necessary improvement in him at this stage.

Ed Dunlop’s Red Avenger did me a favour at Goodwood last time and must go well off just a 3lbs higher mark, his earlier Epsom 3rd being extremely solid handicap form but I just wonder if he’ll need a stiffer test at the trip and not many win two big ones in a row.

Kieren Fallon has been booked to ride Navajo Chief, a horse with a three from eight record at the track and likely to go well with Fallon’s judgement of pace on the round track such an asset at York.

Anyway, down to selections and, as the going is unknown at this stage, I’m going to take two against the field.

If the ground turns soft, John Quinn’s Levitate is arguably thrown in, back on the same mark as when taking a Doncaster handicap last November. To illustrate the point, Laffan reopposes on the same terms yet was over five lengths back on that occasion . He’s had a break since running down the field on ground far too quick at Ascot and won last year’s Lincoln after a 182 day break so fitness shouldn’t be an issue. He’s forecast at over 25-1 and that looks an attractive each way play.

On faster ground, a horse who’s done me a couple of favours, Prince Of Johanne, looks primed to run well off a mark just slightly higher than his Royal Hunt Cup and Sandown victories from the last couple of seasons. He’s finished second and third in the mile handicap at the May meeting here for the last two seasons and, if they go too quick here, nothing will be staying on better and he’s forecast at odds over 20-1 again which makes solid each way sense.

Both are drawn to be able to get a tow into the race with enough cover to unleash a finishing kick in the last furlong and should give us a run for our money once ground conditions become apparent.

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