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Justice was served when backing and having faith in Courtland who didn't jump as well as he did last time around, but his final few jumps secured the win as he pulled clear at the finish. He's such a likeable and progressive horse and full credit goes to Peter Bowen who is a tremendous trainer and is in such great form at the moment, as is Sean who is now odds-on to land the jumps title.
York 1:50 – Bergerac 20/1 (0.5pt EW Bet365 6pl)
In racing, you've got to try and find the angles which others don't, thus potentially getting some value. Bergerac won this race 12 months ago, that's an obvious angle which can be found easily, but I think the return of cheekpieces could offer a return to form.
He didn't win when he used cheekpieces before, but when connections went for the cheekpieces he responded positively on his first run with them by finishing a nose runner-up in a decent handicap. His form dropped off in his next runs but when he was tried in blinkers for the first time he won at the first time of asking and he also managed to win this exact race 12 months ago on his second run with the blinkers, so its almost like he reacts positively to a change in headgear for the first couple of runs, but he has been before par since and his most recent run was very poor. As a result, not only has his handicap mark dropped drastically and is now below the handicap mark which he won off last year, but also the odds are great.
York is a speedster track and being up with the pace in the sprints is often a big benefit, especially on quick ground as it could be difficult to come off the pace when a horse is in a good rhythm in front. Bergerac is seen to best effect when blazing out in front like he did in this race last year. He won't get an uncontested lead, but that doesn't bother me, as long as he's up there and got no traffic problems I think he can run a big race at a race which has clearly been targeted for the repeat win.
York 4:10 – Robert Johnson 11/2 (1pt EW WilliamHill/PaddyPower 4pl)
I really think this is a very weak race and it's full of horses who don't stay the trip, are too exposed off their current handicap marks or aren't good enough. I am quite sweet on the chance of the improving Robert Johnson.
My selection is going to be one of the favourite horses to walk away with the win in this and I think that's obvious as he is the horse on the up, stays the trip, handles any ground, has won at the track and has the recent form as well. I see very little wrong with this horse at the moment, and I think he is arguably the most solid bet of the day and the fact he is an EW price is daylight robbery as he should be a clear favourite in my opinion.
I totally understand why punters are getting involved on the Irish horses, but the form of the Ryan Moore ride (Tony Martin horse) has some honking recent form and looks to be in the grips of the handicapper. Tony Martin is one of those trainers you have to respect and the booking of Ryan Moore will obviously draw attention, but sometimes you've got to ignore the connections and who is on board and look at the facts and that is he shouldn't be good enough off his top weight and recent form to win this race. The Dermot Weld horse is more interesting as she is on the up, but she has struggled to win off lower handicap marks in the past and has been competing at a much lower level.
York 5:20 – Zoulu Chief 9/1 (0.5pt EW Bet365 5pl)
Heather Main produced me with an 8/1 winning selection on Sunday with Island Bandit and I mentioned how she does so well with the yard she has and I was on the receiving end of one of her big odds winners with Zoulu Chief beating my fancy at the Racing League last week.
I watched Zoulu Chief demolish the Racing League field at Windsor and I was fully taken by surprise, but when you have a look at the form, it's not as surprising as I initially thought. This horse won at 150/1 at Newbury on his second start, and was then pitched into the deep end at Royal Ascot which was too much for him and then he didn't handle Chester. He then bounced back at Windsor and showed the ability he possesses. I thought that was a great run and he did it with ease. He might've been flattered to win by so much as Windsor is a track favoured by the leader who grabs the rail, but he was still visually impressive and if he can get a lead in this race then he will be dangerous to let loose on the front.
He has gone up 6lbs for that win and you can't really say Gina Mangan takes off 3lbs, as she rode him on his last start when claiming three so it's still effectively 6lbs claimed. However, her claim does help with the weight he is carrying and it puts him towards the bottom of the weights, which is always a benefit on a horse who likes to run from the front.
York - 1:50 pm
20/1 @ Bet365
York - 4:10 pm
11/2 @ William Hill
York - 5:20 pm