BIT OF A QUIRKE (4.20) can make a bold bid to repeat last year's success in the 1m 2f handicap at Chester. The gelding has got lucky with the draw in stall one and arrives on the back of a Beverley victory, making all the running and readily pulling clear of Regal Mirage.
SPARKLEALOT (5.30) should go off a decent price in the 7f apprentices' handicap. A course winner (soft) last September, he was ridden too aggressively to overcome a poor draw here last time, helping to force the pace before fading into fifth. William Cox takes over the reins and Sparklealot is better drawn today.
This is one of York’s marquee Saturday fixtures and AFAAK (3.50), last month’s Royal Hunt Cup winner, can add another significant handicap scalp to his belt by landing the John Smith’s Diamond Jubilee Handicap. A stout stayer over a mile, Afaak should be able to last out the extra two furlongs on the Knavesmire where he has a course victory on his record. The Charlie Hills-trained five-year-old won on soft at Ascot but it was quick when he won here at the Dante fixture. Afaak, gelded over the winter, is worth chancing under his 5lb penalty, despite a potentially problematical wide draw.
WEEKENDER (2.40) was beaten narrowly by Marmelo here last June and should have the edge over Gold Mount in the John Smith’s Silver Cup. The son of Frankel returns from a short break following his Chelmsford City victory over Danehill Kodiac in May. Gold Mount sprung a 16-1 surprise when readily accounting for Raheen House here last month and should confirm the places on identical terms.
There is an interesting eight-race card at Hamilton's traditional holiday fixture. Irish raiders have mopped up several handicaps in Scotland lately and ART OF UNITY (6.05) could be another winner. John Feane’s gelding ran a close third at Tipperary last month and this appears a weaker event. She receives plenty of weight from some exposed rivals.
INEXES (6.35) can defy top weight in the 6f handicap. Ivan Furtado has the seven-year-old in top form and his close second to useful Air Raid here last month is the best piece of form on offer. Third horse Cale Lane came out to win at Pontefract next time, while the fourth, Global Spirit, as since scored at Ayr.
Autumn Flight has been knocking on the door and lost out in a four-way photo in a course and distance sprint last month. Tim Easterby’s three-year-old can usually be counted on to give a good account.
Stuart Morrison’s EURO IMPLOSION (7.05) ran a stormer at Ripon on Monday evening and a repeat performance will see him go mighty close in the 1m 4f handicap. Clearly appreciating the quicker ground, he helped force the pace and only yielded close home to gambled-on Just Hubert.
Stablemate Dark Lochnagar could never get competitive following a sluggish start at Ayr before staying on into sixth spot behind Five Helmets. Ideally, he could do with some cut underfoot but this longer trip should help. This is a significant class drop compared to his runs behind Just Benjamin at Musselburgh and Summer Moon at York. Southern stables dominate the market but I'm hopeful the prize will remain on home soil.
FREQUENCY CODE (7.35) could have been let in lightly on his handicap debut following three runs in far superior company. Jedd O’Keeffe has pitched his gelding against the likes of Pondus, Surfman and Bangkok, and the betting market should provide some clues to expectations.
ALL ABOUT MADDY (8.05) is another Irish challenger worthy of note. The filly ran fourth to the Johnny Murtagh-trained Finding Nero over 1m 1f at Gowran Park in early June and that may be superior to UK form.
ISHEBAYORGREY (8.35) should go well in the other division of this low-key handicap. Iain Jardine’s runner would only need a repeat of his third to in-form Redarna and Edgar Allan Poe at Carlisle to take a big hand in proceedings.
DIVINER (9.05) can bring the curtain down on a very busy Saturday by landing the mile fillies’ handicap. She performed well at Leicester last time, filling the minor berth behind the Richard Hannon-trained Al Melissa and Clive Cox’s Remembering You.