York, like all big meetings was tough.
It’s never easy to find value at events which command great scrutiny, the angles regarding ground and pace generally discussed ad nauseum when such niceties can be ignored or misinterpreted at smaller meetings or more mundane racedays.
The ante-post markets give some hope of finding an edge, but getting involved before knowing the prevailing going or the final runners means that certain things are taken on trust.
So it was with my International fancy Barney Roy, who blatantly needed a pacemaker and was forced to make much of the running when connections dismissed that idea – a disastrous turn of events as it transpired, but easy enough to predict what would happen prior to the event, and while York has gained a reputation for being a front-runners’ track, but while speed is often rewarded in sprints, there is no hiding place for the pacesetters in races round a bend or two at the Knavesmire, and that is doubly true with horses which tend to race freely.
My other ante-post fancy early in the week was Kevin Ryan’s Hey Jonesy in the Goffs Sales race, and his defeat was much more painful, both financially and in the sense of one getting away. In a race dominated by those drawn low, Hey Jonesy led the near side group throughout, and pulled 4½ lengths clear of useful filly Darkanna, herself at least that far clear of the third of those in that group, only to find a couple drawn on the opposite wing too strong in the dying strides.
There is little doubt that he would have won with a fair draw, but that is no comfort for win-only punters, and that performance will be factored into his price when he next runs. There are no complaints though – I got better than twice SP about my selection knowing that the draw and ground would be complicating factors, and I would do the same tomorrow.
If I had no luck on the opening two days of the meeting, then that was evened up on Friday to some degree – Marsha was a longstanding each-way bet for the Nunthorpe in the belief that she was head and shoulders above most of her rivals at the weights, even if there were two who looked to have her measure. I believed that she could get close to Lady Aurelia and Battaash, and reasoned in an earlier print article that there were reasons to believe that one or both of those rivals could run below form, but I was counting on the place money rather than expecting the win in truth.
To be fair to Sir Mark Prescott’s filly, she did well to recover from quite a bad bump leaving the stalls, but even without that incident, she was always likely to be playing catch up with an on-song Lady Aurelia, and Frankie Dettori’s response on crossing the line shows how unfortunate his mount was, with Wesley Ward’s speedball ahead everywhere, including a stride beyond the post, but beaten in a genuine head-bobbing finish by a rival who dipped at exactly the right time.
The Nunthorpe wasn’t the only case of “heads up, heads down” on Friday, however, and the Lonsdale Cup looked destined to go to Dartmouth for much of the straight only for Montaly to nut the Queen’s horse right on the line. I had no opinion on the contest but my Final Furlong colleague Tony Keenan put up a good argument for Andrew Balding’s stayer and I had a small bet as a result. Doubly lucky.
Sadly, Seamour couldn’t carry the burden of my cash but wasn’t disgraced having raced too close to the pace and then been badly hampered when still holding a chance of delivering place money. The win of Nakeeta, also an exposed stayer ridden by a promising claimer, served to mock my approach to the race, but I was pleased to see the race go to such a genuine performer, and one who would have won more than one big pot had the draw been kinder at times. It was also pleasing to see the excellent Callum Rodriguez get the big winner every apprentice craves, and he has not only the talent, but seemingly the temperament to go a long way in the saddle. Here’s wishing him all the right breaks in the next crucial year.
I had a few each-way bets on Saturday where the race shape offered value, but they all came to naught – I’d not necessarily step in to back the same horses again, but I will definitely keep faith with Look My Way, who travelled well in the Melrose before being done for tactical speed.
I liked the way he kept on again without being at all knocked about by Jimmy Quinn, and that kindness will be repaid – possibly in the Cesarewitch Trial at Newmarket.
I’d love to see him in the Cesarewitch, but he looks too low in the ratings to make the cut for that event, at least this year.
The suggested lays mentioned here last week were successful, with Mondialiste seemingly flattered by his effort in a tactical race two starts back, but I’ll admit that getting Bengali Boys out of the money in the Roses Stakes looked an impossible task with a furlong to run, and I’ll consider his late capitulation into fourth as more of a bullet dodged than great call on my part. He didn’t look in love with the quicker ground at York, but proved that there was no fluke about his Super Sprint win, and will surely pick up some black type when the going eases again in the autumn.
This week sees me packing suits and books as Elinor the boys and I are saying goodbye to Cheltenham to make a move to the Surrey Hills.
They say that moving house is the most stressful thing you can do next to divorce, and it’s easy to see how one can precipitate the other.
Elinor is taking the prospect of a new job very seriously, and started packing stuff about six months ago, it seems. Just watching her being organised is stressful enough for me, and I’m struggling to muster the concentration needed to deal with the weekend’s racing, which is pretty uninspiring to be honest. On the other hand, the move offers the chance of a fresh start in terms of daily routine, and I look forward to experiencing the change-of-stable rejuvenation which I hear so much about.