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Symphony Group Handicap preview - Ebor Festival Day 1

Symphony Group Handicap
by Chris Day, @chrisday100

Volunteering to preview the opening race of this year’s Ebor Festival, the 5f 89 yards (Ed. - why not a standard distance so times are relevant and comparable ffs?!?!) Symphony Group Handicap, when I could have chosen the smaller fields of the International or Great Voltigeur, probably says more about my own form this flat season.

A visit to the last chance saloon or just the kick up the backside I need to get back to making some extra income at the sport I love?

York, especially over sprint distances, is a specialists’ track and often the previous year’s race can have a major bearing on the outcome.

Interestingly, Kevin Ryan, who has such a great record at this meeting and with sprinters in general, won last year’s contest with Bogart, now 14lbs better off with the paper favourite, Goldream having beaten him ¾ length but his form since has been dire (10th his best effort since) and he’s passed over for that reason.

Goldream also likes York, his three appearances yielding 2nds off marks of 90, 91 and 96 and, now 103, he’s short enough whilst acknowledging his trainer is a master with sprinters. He beat Move In Time a head at Ascot last time and that one has also been well found in the market despite never excelling in three runs at the track.

Robot Boy has won twice this season off 87 and 92 but now finds himself off 102. His trainer always rated him and knows a good horse but his predicted odds are short enough considering his current rating. He too has run below expectations on his only two visits to the track.

An old favourite of mine, Mass Rally will surely go well in something this Autumn as his rating comes down and the ground softens and the Ayr Gold Cup, or more likely the Coral Sprint Trophy at this track could offer better options over further. He’s passed over here but is a talented horse who they just can’t go quick enough for.

See The Sun won a very hot three-year-old sprint over six furlongs in June here and is unlikely to be found wanting for pace. Like so many of these he’s difficult to discount but I’ll let him run at forecast odds, Ashpan Sam could be high enough in the weights having run really well here in May then won in facile fashion at Epsom and Monsieur Joe is only 3lbs higher than when winning that race.

Another who loves the Knavesmire is Secret Witness, off the same mark as when a neck and nose third to Top Boy over course and distance earlier in the season and likely to go close if getting the breaks.

However, we have to pick one and the selection here is Blaine, a former Gimcrack winner whose form over the course reads 113, his third over six furlongs here in May reading very well in the light of the second, Baccarat going on to win the Wokingham next time out. He was with that horse at the furlong marker before being run out of it close home. Two runs ago, he beat Tatlisu and Out Do, third and first respectively in Saturday’s Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon before running no sort of race at Goodwood last time out. At Hamilton he didn’t look short of pace on good to firm ground where he led two out and stayed on from what we now know were two very well-treated rivals.

In short, he’ll love the track, could improve for the drop to the minimum distance, has won at the meeting as a two-year-old and is highly likely to have been primed by a trainer who targets this meeting.
Quotes of around 16-1 each way offer some value to get the meeting off to a flying start.

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