SPEED, speed, speed. That’s what today is all about at York.
We have the Group 2 Gimcrack, a six-furlong sprint for two-year-old’s, followed by the Group 1 Nunthorpe, a five-furlong burn-up. Blink and you will miss these two races for the speedsters.
At the other end of the scale we also have the two-mile Lonsdale Cup which — with no Stradivarius lining up — is an open goal for one of the so-called lesser lights to net.
First up on ITV today is a mile and a half handicap. I fancied Dash Of Spice but he is going for the Ebor tomorrow and gives this a miss for that one.
He would have a sneaky chance tomorrow, especially as trainer David Elsworth has managed to get him down 6lb in the handicap this season.
Mark Johnston has been in the winners at this meeting already and he runs two in this. Of the pair ZABEEL CHAMPION (1.45) looks the one, even though this will be his first try at a mile and a half.
He won a big handicap at Newmarket over ten furlongs last month and was then just touched off over the same trip at Glorious Goodwood.
Like most Johnston horses when he gets to the front he doesn’t stop and it is interesting Ryan Moore, who was in the saddle on the Downs, is up again.
My tip won’t be a massive price but this looks a weaker event than the last couple he has run in and he will be hard to stop off a still very workable rating of 94.
The stayers are up next and Johnston could be celebrating again with NAYEF ROAD (2.15) who will never get a better chance to lift a cup than today. He has run in some top class races and is a decent stayer in his own right.
In recent times he has taken on the likes of Logician, Technician, Mildenberger and of course Stradivarius. He ran ‘The Strad’ to a length in the Goodwood Cup last time out and a repeat of that form will be enough.
YAZAMAN (2.45) can be the man for William Haggas in the Gimcrack. My tip was no match for Supremacy in the Richmond at Goodwood but will be hard to keep out the frame.
I think he’s better than the Goodwood run in any case and this track might help him. He is more experienced than all his rivals who, admittedly are less exposed, and I suggest having a few quid at an each-way price of around 5-1.
It should warm us up nicely for the main event, the Nunthorpe which is at the mercy of Battaash. The Bat-mobile is a bit like the other beast Ghaiyyath who we saw dominate the Juddmonte International.
Oddly, last year the big question was whether the Charlie Hills-trained gelding liked York, and because he won we all now take it for granted he loves the place.
Who knows what the truth is? What we do know is Battaash and his loving groom Bob Grace are a class act and, if at his best, the King’s Stand Stakes hero will take some stopping.
That said, for betting purposes Battaash is not for me at 1-2, and I am happy to throw a few quid on classy A’ALI (3.15) each-way.
I expect him to come off a strong gallop and finish off well under William Buick.
The last race on telly is a rather low-key maiden. Tawleed ran with promise on debut but I will side with the Boys In Blue and NAVAL CROWN (3.45) who floats my boat after two nice outings.