STRADIVARIUS (3.30) can launch his four-year-old campaign in style by mopping up the Yorkshire Cup.
He made remarkable strides last season, winning three times from humble beginnings, the pick of them coming in the Qatar Goodwood Cup when taking the notable scalp of Big Orange.
Significantly, that success came on a sound surface and he produced another fine performance in the William Hill St Leger when a close third to Capri (good to soft). A muddy Ascot in October was all against Stradivarius when he lined up in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup but the son of Sea The Stars ran a very creditable third to Order Of St George.
Lowther Stakes winner Threading is vying for favouritism in the Listed Fillies’ Stakes over a mile but meets a progressive rival in SHEIKHA REIKA (2.55).
Roger Varian’s filly ran consistently well in strong company as a juvenile and landed some hefty wagers when justifying that support on her comeback in a Newmarket maiden. She has a good bit to find on official figures but there should be more in the locker.
It’s a Friday frenzy with a glut of competitive action to digest and at Newbury LADY VALDEAN (3.05) is turned out again quickly after her Bath romp on Wednesday.
Clearly at home on the lightning-quick ground, the filly made all under Richard Kingscote to spread-eagle her field. Lady Valdean incurs a 6lb penalty but apprentice Joshua Bryan takes off 5lb. She appeals as a tasty ew bet at around 8-1.
The 1m 3f handicap is a cracking contest and BERKSHIRE ROYAL (4.45) caught the eye when just denied by Austrian School at Chester last week.
Jason Watson had him in an ideal stalking slot throughout and the pair had the race between them turning for home. Berkshire Royal races off the same mark before his 6lb higher rating for that Chester run kicks in and although this is a sterner test, he is receiving lots of weight from his rivals.
Mark Johnston saddled Austrian School and he relies on King’s Proctor. He is another horse due to go up in the handicap, this time by 9lb, on the back of his third to Rostopovich in the Dee Stakes at Chester, so must come into the reckoning. He likes to force the pace.
First Eleven got caught in a pocket before being switched at the furlong pole in the mud at Salisbury, running on into second behind well-ridden Westbrook Bertie. The son of Frankel can reverse that form and is another to enter calculations along with Caspar The Cub, a beaten odds-on shot at Lingfield. Winner Shailene went on to run fourth to Magic Wand in the Cheshire Oaks.
At Newmarket, Charlie Appleby sends ALQAMAR (3.55) up another two furlongs and the four-year-old was staying on stoutly behind Grey Britain and UAE Prince here 12 days ago.
- York 3.30 – Stradivarius (10-11, bet365, Paddy Power)
- York 2.55 – Sheikha Reika (2-1, Ladbrokes)
- Newbury 3.05 – Lady Valdean ew (8-1, William Hill)
- Newbury 4.45 – Berkshire Royal (5-1, Paddy Power)
- Newmarket 3.55 – Alqamar (7-2, bet365)
Johnb's Friday Tips
- York 2.20 – Nicki’s Angel 4-1 NAP
- Newmarket 3.20 – Simoon 4-1
- Newmarket 3.55 – Alqamar 3-1 NB
- York 4.35 – Lady In Question 9-1 1/4 odds 1-2-3
- Hamilton 5.55 – Life Of Riley 7-1 ew 1/5 odds 1-2-3