The totescoop6 Heritage Handicap is a highly competitive contest to kick off the Channel 4 action on Saturday. The Lee Westwood owned Hoofalong is the horse in form at the moment in the field having landed three wins already this season including his last two starts. The latter of those was the impressive win in the Scottish Sprint Cup at Musselburgh where he beat the re-opposing Duke of Firenze and Desert Law. That win was a career best effort, but he now has a further 6lb rise to contend with now and those two rivals should reverse the form here, but it is Paul Midgley’s charge that looks to have the more obvious chance here having been third in this race last year off a higher mark. Desert Law also ran a blinder and looked back to its best when finishing third in a valuable handicap at the Curragh last time out and so he should take all the beating here.
Another horse who can run a big race at an each way price is Mick Channon’s Moonraker. The four-year-old was just denied on the All Weather at Newcastle last time over six furlongs. He will needs to prove he is just as effective over 5f, but if confirming his well being here on his favoured track, where he previously earned his two career wins, then he could be the biggest danger to the selection.
DESERT LAW (E/W)
The first visit to York on the TV programming is a tricky looking Class 2 handicap over a mile. Richard Fahey looks to have a leading chance with his representative Gabriel’s Kaka. The six-year-old gelding has been a revelation this year and has only been out of the placings once in six starts. Victory at Ayr last time out confirmed his well being and he is actually still well treated on some of his older form including over course and distance from 2014, but he may well just be vulnerable to an improver and may need to settle for minor placings again today.
David O’Meara’s Firmament is the likely favourite for the race and for very good reason. The gelding has never been out of the top four places in his last six starts. He made a winning return of the mile trip back in May in a handicap before improving on that form in defeat when runner up at Chelmsford since, but he has to prove he is still as effective on the turf. Those last six starts have been on the all weather so questions to answer back on turf albeit he does have a soft ground maiden win to his name, but it may pay to look for value elsewhere.
In a race of such a competitive race it pays to go for one horse against the field at bigger odds. The first of those is Sir Mark Prescott’s Celestial Path who holds possibly the two strongest pieces of form in the field. The four-year-old colt was not only third in the Racing Post trophy as a two year old, but he was fifth in the 2000 Guineas of 2015 to the impressive Gleneagles. The horse has since failed to deliver in both listed and Group 3 company, but today represents a massive lowering in class for his first time in a handicap and he could prove to be a massive price if the first time cheekpieces signal a revival to anything like that previous form.
CELESTIAL PATH (E/W)
The Summer Mile stakes looks to be a highly competitive renewal this year with a field of high class milers lining up against each other. Toormoore is the likely favourite for Godolphin and he is a Group 1 winner over 7f as a juvenile and a dual Group 2 winner over a mile including at Sandown earlier this season on his reappearance. The five-year-old has ran with credit in defeat since in the Group 1 Lockinge as well as the Queen Anne Stakes and so can undoubtedly make his presence felt in this field, but has to shoulder the burden of top weight here and may struggle to concede weight to some classy rivals.
The main rival has to Clive Cox’s high class Kodi Bear. The dual-Group race winner has yet recaptured his form of last season in two starts this term, but his latest 7th, some two lengths behind the re-opposing Toormore, was a step forward on his previous reappearance, which again was in Group 1 company. This race is much easier and he does have a handy 3lb pull with the aforementioned Godolphin rival today and with winning course form to his name already he should take all the beating on these terms if reproducing anything near his 2015 form so gets the nod here.
There is no doubt that there are dangers all around to the selection. The rejuvenated William Haggas stable line up with a big chance as well in the form of last time out Listed winner Mutakayyef. The Hamdan Al Maktoum charge was gelded over the winter and is still lightly raced so may well be up to building on his York success, but in a field as hot as this one he has very little margin for error.
Another danger is Sir Michael Stoute’s Convey. Pat Smullen’s mount had a day to forget at Royal Ascot in the Royal Hunt Cup, but can be forgiven that effort giving his poor draw, but can definitely push the selection if reproducing the form that saw him go close in Group 3 company last term.
KODI BEAR (E/W)
This is another tight Class 2 handicap over a mile at HQ. Manson for the Dominic French-Davis team has some solid form in the book after landing a class 4 handicap over today’s trip on his seasonal reappearance and despite bombing in the Britannia at Royal Ascot next time out he remains with potential for this sort of level and the yard clearly agree with the booking of Ryan Moore so he is a worthy favourite having only had six starts to date, but he may not be the best handicapped horse in the field and comes up against a number of similar unexposed types from massive yards here.
Godolphin come here double handed with last time out winners Hornsby and Silent Attack.
The former won his race well to just get up in shadow of the post to the re-opposing MikMak, but will have to step up a great deal on that effort to land this here today and it is his stablemate who looks to hold the more obvious chance.
Silent Attack followed up a maiden win with an impressive victory on handicap debut last time out. He has been raised 9lb for that comprehensive two length win, but the way he put the race to bed in a matter of strides that day would suggest the lightly raced colt is far from finished improving and he gets the nod in this one.
The main danger to the selection will likely come from John Gosden’s Von Blucher who looks to be on a lenient handicap mark following a decent fourth on reappearance and in his handicap bow back in April. He will have come on for that run and go give the selection the most to do based on his previous Lingfield maiden win last term.
SILENT ATTACK (E/W)
The Listed Silver Cup Stakes over the 1m6f trip promises to be another exciting contest and it looks to be between three main protagonists here today.
Curbyourenthusiasm is the warm favourite here having progressed well in handicap company throughout 2015 then got straight back to form with an impressive second to the excellent Clever Cookie in the Yorkshire Cup over course and distance last time out on seasonal reappearance. That form looks rock solid in this field, but he is dependant on a strongly run race so he may be vulnerable here today if that does not happen for him.
The horse who can take advantage of any slip from the favourite is Roger Charlton’s Quest for More.
The six-year-old Gelding has some tidy form already in the book including a respectable ninth in the Melbourne Cup that capped off a highly successful 2015 campaign. He has not been out the first two in his last five starts in the UK and the form of his neck defeat by Big Orange last summer looks particularly strong form given that rivals recent big race win and so he is the obvious selection here.
The reappearance defeat to Moonrise only strengths claims as he won the race on his side that day and the re-opposing Seamour was well held that day and that rival actually may not like the ground here as he bids to improve on his buoyant showing in the Northumberland Plate a fortnight ago when only just touched off in closing stages.
QUEST FOR MORE (WIN)
The world of racing will be watching with interest as Frankel colt Cunco makes his bid for further glory in the Superlative Stakes.
John Gosden’s two year old got his father’s stallion career off to flying start at Newbury on debut with an impressive win. He seemed to be very green that day and show more signs of greeness when third in the Chesham at Royal Ascot next time out. There is no doubt that there is much more to come, however and his juggernaut trainer will no doubt have him primed to strike here with further improvement likely with the extra experience under his belt and so he gets the nod to get back in the winner’s enclosure here.
The Frankel horse may not have it all his own way here though with a number of in-form yards standing in his way.
The Aiden O’Brien and Ryan Moore team up line up their exciting colt War Decree who looks to follow up a 7f maiden win at Leopardstown and he has all sorts of potential, but while he can certainly play a big role, the selections superior experience may just tell.
South Seas for the Andrew Balding team is another unbeaten colt who won on debut and bids to follow up here today. He was an eight length winner in a maiden contest at Windsor a few weeks ago and will definitely come on for the run so he might be the one to give the selections the most to do to get his head in front.
Mark Johnston has a fantastic record at York and his horses always seem to hit top form around this time of year and 2016 is no different. He looks to have another leading chance here in the John Smith’s Cup over 1m2f in the shape of Revolutionist. The four-year-old colt landed a double back in May when winning races at Redcar and Newmarket in the space of 9 days, and he produced a blinder of a run next time out to finish third in the Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot next time out. That looks to be rock solid form in this field here today and given that he can run off the same mark here in the slightly lesser race means he looks to be the value each way selection at a double figure price here.
Godolphin looked to have the main danger to the selection in the form of Carry on Deryck. He was a solid performer for the David Evans team last term, but got life with the Boys in blue off to a winning start in Meydan earlier this year. He followed that up with a decent effort in the Royal Hunt Cup last time at the Royal meeting and can definitely get involved here today.
Another horse to watch in the field is David O’Meara’s Tawdeea. The gelding produced a career best to land the Old Newton Cup last week and could not be ruled out if in the same mood here today, but despite his trainer’s record on the course it would be a massive task to follow up here so he may need to settle for a minor place.
The Group 1 Darley July Cup is one of the absolute highlights of the racing calendar and this year’s renewal promises to be another exciting contest with some of the hottest sprinters around lining up.
Royal Ascot hero Twilight Son comes here looking to add to his Group 1 success in the Diamond Jubilee and he is no doubt the leading contender to follow up here despite the narrow margin of victory that day. Henry Candy’s charge has now won six of his eight career starts and has previous Group 1 winning form in the Haydock sprint Cup last term. He reversed the form of his reappearance defeat to the re-opposing Magical Memory with that win at the Royal Meeting, but expect those rivals to be closely matched again here today at the finish.
The Candy yard comes here double handed and Limato is certainly no forlorn hope either. The four-year-old returns to sprinting having failed to stay the trip in the Lockinge last time out and he is certainly an interesting contender in this lineup, but may be vulnerable to a more unexposed rival.
Clive Cox sends his 5f superstar Profitable into battle here over the extra furlong, but while he has been the undoubted star of the season so far over the minimum trip, he may struggle to stand the heat of such a hot field back up at 6f here today.
Quiet Reflection was one of the highlight wins of the Royal meeting given the story surrounding trainer, jockey and the owners and only a fool would dismiss the chances of that fairytale season continuing here today. The impressive three-year-old filly has won her last five starts and romped to glory in the Commonwealth Cup last time out, but takes on her elders for the first time here today which makes life much tougher.
The most intriguing contender in the entire field has to be Aiden O’Brien’s Air Force Blue. The horse was the ante post favourite for both the British and Irish 2000 guineas, but ultimately did not stay the mile trip on both occasions and so the stable look to rejuvenate their colt’s season by sending it back into sprinting company. He would be at the head of the market if reproducing anything like his 2015 form at this sort of trip following triple Group 1 success that includes the Dewhurst. Ryan Moore is booked to do the steering once again and his powerful connections have rejuvenated similar types in this manner before so he cannot go off unbacked at a massive each way price for a serial Group race winner.
AIR FORCE BLUE (E/W)
TWILIGHT SON (E/W)
Easton Angel’s revival has been clear for all to see this season and trainer Michael Dods looks to have found another decent opportunity to extend her winning run with the listed City Walls stakes over five furlongs today. The filly lost her way towards the end of her 2-year-old campaign, but she could not have been more impressive in two Listed victories this season. The latter of those wins was by over two lengths and so she looks primed to complete the hat trick here today with regular rider Paul Mulrennan poised to do the steering once again here.
One rival who will give her something to think about is Sir Mark Prescott’s Marsha. The horse ran with credit in defeat on reappearance when runner up in a sprint handicap at Newmarket, but was firmly put in her place in the following run at the Curragh. The step back to the minimum trip helped her regain the winning thread at Ayr last time out in a Listed contest and she will be a danger to the selection is replicating that form again today.
Another horse who can take a hand here is the out of sorts dual Group 2 winner Muthmir. The horse is a very smart gelding on his day, but hasn’t won since landing the Group 2 King George Stakes at Goodwood last summer and he has been poor in three runs this term. He would be a danger to all if showing anything like his best form, but not one to rely on these days and the selection looks the more solid option at an attractive each way price.
EASTON ANGEL (E/W)
The Channel 4 coverage ends with the highly competitive Bunbury Cup over 7f and it may just pay to stick with last year’s winning trainer once again.
Richard Fahey landed this prize in 2015 with Rene Mathis and comes here double handed for this year’s renewal with Heaven’s Guest and the hat trick seeking Growl. The latter has had a fine season already with back to back successes over 6f at Nottingham and Windsor for last year’s winning connections, but he comes here today to tackle a longer trip whilst having a further penalty to shoulder so the stable’s other charge looks to have the stronger chance.
Heaven’s Guest actually won this contest in 2014 and was third in the race last year. The six-year-old gelding had been out of sorts in three runs this term, but hinted at a return to form last time out when a good runner up at York over today’s trip and has clearly been set up for a tilt at this race once again so he gets the nod here.
The main danger to the selection will likely come from the Peter Chapple-hyam team with their runner Backstay. The horse was a solid fifth in the Wokingham three weeks ago at the Royal meeting, but today’s trip is far more suitable to his hold up style. He won 7f handicaps here before in his career so can give the selection the most to think about late on here despite conceding weight to the entire field.
HEAVEN’S GUEST (E/W)