Not so clever for Cookie?
There is not a more popular horse on the Knavesmire on Friday than Clever Cookie, a winner of four of his eight starts at York and current holder of the Betway Yorkshire Cup after his gallant performance twelve months ago.
Easy ground will help Peter Niven’s nine-year-old but many other factors are against him this time around. Firstly, he has not had a prep-run, having looked a little rusty in the early part of last season, and his form also slightly tailed off towards the end of that campaign.
More significantly, though, is the strength of the opposition. Muntahaa and Marmelo are unexposed young stayers with wins under their belts already and former St Leger winner Simple Verse seems happiest at this sort of staying trip.
Crimean Tartar and proven Group One filly Endless Time cannot be discounted but the likeliest candidate has to be 7-2 Dartmouth, the Hardwicke Stakes winner who was close to notching a top-level race and trainer Sir Michael Stoute has taken two of the previous three runnings with similar types.
Punting the Main Desire:
This is a terrific renewal of the Langleys Solicitors British EBF Marygate Fillies' Stakes, with no fewer than seven juveniles putting unbeaten records on the line.
Tom Dascombe’s Formidable Kitt, well-backed on debut at Newmarket, will be popular again, as will the Richard Fahey-trained Maggies Angel.
Most impressive to the eye, and the one that should take the beating, though, is Main Desire. She showed such searing pace in scoring at Nottingham that she already looked a Royal Ascot filly, and this could be the final stepping stone in that direction
Those looking for something more leftfield could try 10-1 Kentish Waltz, whose French-based Irish trainer Eoghan O’Neill knows what he is doing.
Beckett filly appeals:
The Longines Irish Champions Weekend Fillies' Stakes, better known as the Michael Seely Memorial, was a stopping point for Jeremy Noseda’s useful Nemoralia last year and connections of all those in the line-up will be hoping it leads to even bigger things.
Five have lost their maiden tag quite recently, notably Craig Bennett’s home-bred Dancing Breeze, and Ryan Moore has opted for On Her Toes, who fitted in five races last season.
Although the form looks nothing special, Ralph Beckett’s Sibilance has gone even further than the above in landing what used to be the Masaka Stakes at Kempton. She showed an eye-catching change of gears that day, ought to handle the ground, and should be open to no end of further progress.
Stanford on the rise:
Josephine Gordon continues to be a fine role model for aspiring female riders, gaining further approval with her cool demonstration on Fastnet Tempest in last Saturday’s Victoria Cup.
Also starting to gain some momentum, albeit more quietly at the moment, is Lulu Stanford, who is given a higher-profile opportunity by Michael Bell in the Yorkshire Equine Practice Handicap aboard Comprise.
The bright and dedicated teenager has already passed 30 winners, is showing a level-stakes profit through her career, and her 5lb allowance could prove valuable on a gelding who was only beaten a whisker at Yarmouth last time
A clue from Frankie?:
Frankie Dettori is not at York on Friday. Could it be significant that he heads to Newbury for a few rides instead?
The most obvious reason he looks to be in Berkshire seems to be for the debut of John Gosden’s Westerland in the Welcome To The Starlight Raceday Maiden Stakes, an often-informative heat.
The Frankel juvenile is from a family which has proved rewarding for the Gosden-Khalid Abdullah axis; his dam Arabesque produced Tendu and the Gimcrack winner Showcasing as well as other good performers for the late Sir Henry Cecil.
A performance here would surely see Westerland heading towards the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.
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