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York has been a very tough festival so far, so if you're in profit well done as I get the feeling most won't be.
York 2:25 – True Legend 8/1 (1pt EW WilliamHill 4pl)
The Melrose Handicap is one of the best handicaps of the season and the winner of this gets an automatic entry into next year's Ebor, so it's always a highly contested race. I whittled this race down to a few and I was debating backing a couple on straight wins, but I've opted against that and just a sole EW bet on True Legend was my verdict.
It's obvious that a Sir Mark Prescott horse could be well-handicapped in a big prize handicap, but the price is still quite nice and I think if he's going to improve for the return to 14f then he should be going close. He has slowly been creeping through the handicap this year, he's been beaten on a few occasions but his mark has continued to climb. I thought his last run at Goodwood at the Glorious Goodwood festival was a huge effort, especially to finish as runner-up from the position he was turning into the home straight. He met trouble in running on a few occasions so for him to actually finish in the position he did was quite remarkable and full credit goes to the horse who has that battling mentality which is such a great characteristic. What I found impressive was the turn of foot he produced in the last 1.5F as he made up significant amounts of ground and I think that could be a key weapon for today's race.
The winner of the Goodwood race was the favourite for the York opener yesterday, and he looked like a horse going places, so I think the form will stack up quite nicely.
York 3:35 – Tashkan 18/1 (1pt EW SkyBet 8pl)
The Ebor Handicap isn't really much of a handicap anymore, it's just a glorified Classified race with a small weight difference, as it's many made up of Class 1 horses or horses who could easily become Class 1 horses. This is the reason why no horse in the last 10 years has carried less than 9st to win, as for most of the time the better horses will come out on top.
The John Smith Silver Cup has been a good prep race for the Ebor in recent years and my fancy for this year's race was 3rd in that race earlier this season. A brief look at the recent results of the Ebor from the John Smith's Silver Cup:
2020 – Ranch Hand 4th – Ebor 6th
2021 – Sonnyboyliston 6th – Ebor 1st
– Quickthorn 8th – Ebor 2nd
– Max Vega 7th – Ebor 5th
– Roberto Escobar 4th – Ebor 6th
– Away He Goes 5th – Ebor 7th
2022 – John Leeper 2nd – Ebor 4th
This year's renewal of the Silver Cup looks decent. Hamish won and did struggle to beat Scriptwriter and had Tashkan back in a close 3rd. Hamish has since won again so the form has been franked. Scriptwriter was a good juvenile hurdler and was a pacesetter for Aidan O'Brien's better horses in training, so he's always been a good flat horse. He runs in this race today, as does Get Shirty but the latter was a very slow starter and has a very wide stall to contend with, as does Scriptwriter.
Tashkan stays further than today's distance, so hopefully, they'll go a good pace and make it into a stamina test which would bring him into it. On his day, Tashkan has been a very good horse and that has seen him finish 2nd to Trueshan in a Group 2 as well some other good runs in Group company. York is expecting a little rain, and whatever rain falls that is a positive. Of the three that ran in the Silver Cup he has the lowest draw, and though high draws have a good record in this race, I think being low will be best.
York 4:10 – Ehraz 16/1 (1pt EW PaddyPower 6pl)
Though this is a big field sprint race and looks competitive on paper I think it's screaming out for a different type of horse to win and I'm going to go with a different approach to how I normally would play this race and that's going with the Equilateral approach who won a sprint handicap earlier this week at York.
Ehraz was touted to be a very good horse as a 2yo, but after a couple of good runs his career started to take a dip and that saw him have quite a few long breaks. He has returned this year and put in some solid runs at Group 3 and Listed level behind some good horses and finishing ahead of some good horses as well. Based on the two runs this year I think he is very dangerous in a race of this nature where he is without a doubt the class horse in the race and he is making his handicap debut. Equilateral appears to be a similar horse to Ehraz in the way that he is will run consistently at Class 1 level but never gets his day in the sun, but when he goes back down to handicaps, even carrying big weights, he has the class edge and manages to come out victorious as he is also 3/3 in handicaps.
This race is full of your hardy handicappers who have all raced against each other plenty of times, and if they raced 100x you'd get a different winner every time, as they are all so closely matched at the weights. I think Ehraz is the fly in the ointment and could surprise a few. Ryan Moore is booked and the way Ryan has been riding he will give him every chance of avoiding trouble in this race.
York - 2:25 pm
8/1 @ William Hill
York - 3:35 pm
18/1 @ The Pools
York - 4:10 pm