Racing TV presenter Chris Dixon selects a handful of horses that caught his eye at the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival plus a race that is likely to work out well over the coming weeks.
The outstanding performances from Ghaiyyath and Love lit up a deserted Knavesmire last week during four days of tremendous racing. Those two horses have been the star performers of the turf season and both will continue to play a big part through the remainder of the campaign.
They fill two of the first three positions in the betting for the Arc after last week, with the absent Enable currently splitting them in the market, and it looks sure to be a tremendous race should they all get there in top form.
That’s still a fair way off though, so here’s a few horses that might be of interest in the shorter term after some encouraging efforts last week.
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Pure Dreamer – Richard Hannon
Making ground from off the pace was typically difficult on the straight track at York last week and, with that in mind, Pure Dreamer is well worth marking up after finishing fourth in the closing nursery on Wednesday.
Held up in last place following a tardy start, he made really good progress from the halfway point to get himself into a challenging position before flattening out as that effort took its toll. The way he went through the race suggests he’s a well-handicapped horse off his current mark, while the form of his previous run at Sandown, when also shaping well, also point to him being attractively treated.
Jonah Jones – Ed Walker
Another horse who struggled to make any impact from off the pace on the straight track was Jonah Jones who was taken off his feet in the early stages of the sprint handicap that opened the meeting. The test York provides was completely unsuitable, but it didn’t stop him charging home in the closing furlong and he’s ready to win a decent sprint handicap when getting onto a track that suits his style better.
It’s not the first time this season that he’s shaped well in defeat this term and he needs things to drop right, but he’s on a good mark for when things do go his way and will have suitable ground conditions this autumn. A race like the Portland would suit him well, though he might need to win before then to edge up the weights in order to get in.
Star Of Orion – Ralph Beckett
The 7f nursey on Thursday was run at a very strong pace and the race was set up for those coming from the rear. The duelling leaders, Bonnyrig and El Patron, are both worth forgiving their disappointing efforts while Star Of Orion, who wasn’t too far away from the early pace in third spot, did well to hold onto that position at the line.
Only passed by a pair that were in the last two places at the halfway stage, he was tired through the final half furlong or so and looked to have a fairly hard race, but he’s ahead of his mark on this evidence and is capable of winning a good race of this nature.
Dalanijujo – Mick Channon
Dalanijujo also shaped well after racing close to an overly strong tempo on the Knavesmire last week and is another to keep an eye on. Impressing with how she travelled through the race, she was understandably unable to sustain her challenge given the gallop they’d gone but can win off her current mark under different circumstances.
Beaten off 79 in this 0-100 fillies' handicap, she’s eligible for lesser races than this and can be placed to advantage soon.
As mentioned previously in this column, the handicaps at the big meetings often prove to be strong pieces of form and there were several races last week that should throw up a good number of winners.
However, away from York, the 3yo handicap over a mile won by First Winter is also likely to be a fruitful race to follow. Featuring several well-handicapped horses with solid form, it was run to suit those ridden close to the pace, but even those that held a tactical advantage are likely to remain of interest while anything that sat off the pace had an excuse and is worth either forgiving, or marking up.
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