Rory Delargy: The Lion Sleeps Tonight

4 min

Major Jumbo is the overnight favourite for the opening 5f handicap, and it’s easy enough to see why as he comes here off a career-best effort at Newmarket when he had Wednesday’s impressive winner George Bowen back in fourth. That is decent form, but it’s the handicapper’s job to make his life harder, and a 6lb rise certainly demands more.

It’s also true that Kevin Ryan’s charge has shown his very best form with some ease, and while he has the speed to lead near the stands rail, it’s a myth that York is a front-runner’s paradise, and it will be much harder to make all here than it was at HQ last time.

The field came stands side in the 6f handicap on Wednesday, but the first two still came from single-digit stalls, and it’s doubtful whether Major Jumbo could be called well berthed in stall 17. He was only ninth from a high draw in a C&D handicap in August, and the prominent racers all finished out of the money there.

The draw doesn’t tend to get discussed much in round course races at York, but low stalls have a much worse record around a bend at the Knavesmire, and while that isn’t the deciding factor in opposing Coronet in the Middleton Stakes, it helps a little.

John Gosden’s Ribblesdale winner ran well in the St Leger subsequently, and it’s a concern that she drops in trip for this return, which makes her look vulnerable.

This has the look of a springboard for the mile and a half targets down the line, and with her fitness a possible issue, she looks a vulnerable favourite despite having the highest official rating in the race.

I’m normally loath to oppose John Gosden, so perhaps I’m tempting fate by taking on Guineas fifth Roaring Lion in the Dante.

That’s the best form on offer, but the favourite has been ready for Group races for a while and is therefore much more exposed in terms of his rating, for all he may improve for the longer trip. That isn’t certain, however, and there is a fair bit of speed in his pedigree, while he has shown his quirks on occasion, notably when running around in the Racing Post Trophy.

He was behind White Mocha in the Craven, and while everyone has pointed out that he has improved since that run, the runner-up is arguably open to greater progress and is a 15.0 shot.

Roaring Lion has form in defeat that should win this, but such horses are often expensive to follow at this level.

Recommended Bets:

  • 14:20 York – Lay Major Jumbo for a place @ 2.95 or shorter
  • 14:55 York – Lay Coronet @ 3.5 or shorter
  • 15:30 York – Lay Roaring Lion @ 3.5 or shorter

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