The Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival is a meeting that I grew up loving and goes a long way to deciding a lot of things at the top echelons of Flat racing. This year looks like being no exception.
I love it but have said many times that the competitiveness of York means that over the years I have had heartbreaks as well as glory on the punting front. Hopefully I’ll be remembering the next few days for all the right reasons.
The Group races are the big draws but it is the handicaps I will always focus my betting on. I have come up with three decent bets for day one.
A couple of outings ago I dismissed this horse because of fears he may not be able to last out six furlongs. After two devastating performances over that trip the fear is now whether he might not be as effective back over five.
Dakota Gold is still headstrong but is clearly manageable and is now showing himself to be extremely smart. If he wins this it could be his last appearance in a handicap for a good while.
An extra 5lb on his back would have made no difference at Ripon on Saturday and the opposition here looks no stronger.
Only three runners - Justanotherbottle, Final Venture and Stone of Destiny - turn up here in the very best of form and none of them have the potential of Dakota Gold, who also has shown himself to be better at York than at any other track.
I anticipate another massive plunge on Dakota Gold and believe that his backers are going to get off to a fantastic start.
This is the moment of truth for this horse. I have always felt was going to develop into a very smart stayer and this step up in trip will play to his strengths.
Charles Kingsley beat him at Newmarket last time over shorter (watch above) but I am taking the view that two miles around a track like York is exactly what Infrastructure needs to show his best.
Hopefully, he can unwind his long stride up the York straight and show his strength in the last two furlongs.
Last time he did look a little slow over 1m6f but I am hopeful a part of that was due to him losing a shoe.
I regard his wide draw as an advantage as I do not believe Infrastructure has the tactical speed to work through a field. I will be happier seeing him making a long uninterrupted run down the outside.
It is easy to put a line through Vardon Flyer latest start as he raced wide at Chester and was also stopped in its tracks.
And, on the plus side, the handicapper has eased him 2lb in the ratings. Up until then he was looking like just the type to figure in a big nursery like this, especially as he was being ridden from the front.
His two best efforts have come over course and distance and, despite being a maiden against several winners with untapped potential, I believe Vardon Flyer can outrun his odds.
Dave's top trio:
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