York Insights – Friday – Feel The ‘Burn

7 min

@helynsar reckons improving three-year-old Caliburn should get the race run to suit thanks to a reliable pacemaker in the stall next door

1:55 Sky Bet Handicap


I’m not normally keen to get involved in prominent racers at York, as the track confers no advantage on those who race on the pace other than the obvious; that is to say front runners as a whole are advantaged at every track to some degree, but that advantage is not conferred before the race begins, meaning that simply backing horses who might be expected to lead, or horses who led last time is not a profitable pursuit, and those who want to back the best positioned horses a few seconds after a race has started pay a premium to do so in-running (or they stand at the betting shop counter with two different slips written out while watching the start in the hope of getting an advantage – hi Mario!).

On the other hand, identifying likely front-runners can be an excellent guide as to how the race will unfold, at least in the early stages, and the presence of Mukhayyam in this race makes it easier to read. The gelding has improved at a fairly advanced stage of his career by being allowed to press on in his races, and gives more generously in a finish when he is trying to fend off, rather than pass rivals. It seems very likely indeed that he will utilise those tactics from stall two, and that could confer an advantage on those drawn around him. A year ago, he was well beaten in this contest, but set a strong pace from a wide draw and the three who filled the placed were all drawn close to him. The effect of the draw is real, even on round courses, but is often linked inextricably with the pace, and is often a matter of which horses are able to run most efficiently. That way, even an inferior horse can make a race by setting strong, even fractions, and leading his pursuers to where the best ground and the clearest running is to be had.

It’s utterly bizarre in my mind that pacemakers are hardly ever utilised this way, and (as in Golden Horn’s Arc) having a pacemaker drawn away from you but beside your main rival is a dreadful own goal unless your intent is foul play.

This is all an exceptionally long-winded way of suggesting Caliburn, who probably needs a good gallop at this trip to show his best (didn’t stay in the Bahrain Trophy, and found ten furlongs too sharp last time having won easily over this trip at Haydock), and is drawn on Mukhayyam’s outside in stall three, looks a really good bet for those reasons. He’s also a horse who has had just one run in handicaps, and as a totally unexposed three-year-old against older rivals, has plenty to recommend him.

  • Back Caliburn to win @ 15.0 or bigger (1pt)
  • Back Caliburn to place @ 4.0 or bigger (2pts)

3:00 Al Basti Equiworld Gimcrack Stakes


I must admit that I don’t have a clue who will win this year’s Gimcrack Stakes, but I’m happy to take a chance in an open race that It won’t be Shine So Bright, who seems to have a similar chance to about six others on the book, and seems too short in the betting on that basis.

There have been very few stars on the juvenile scene this season as evidenced by the fluctuating fortunes of those who have tasted pattern-race success, and the gap between the best and worst in this race, and indeed in this division, is not a wide one. Shine So Bright is one of the favourites on the back of a solid run when third in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood, and a placing in that Group 2 would normally be on a par with what is required to make the frame here. That may still be the case, but only one horse came into the Richmond having won a Group race, and that was Marie’s Diamond, who won a weak Anglesey Stakes and has now been beaten five times, including when finishing last in the Prix Morny at the weekend. The winner, Land Force, also had his colours lowered at Deauville, and the conclusion is that the Richmond was a pretty poor race for the grade. In fairness, that’s a comment which may well be made about the Gimcrack in a few hours, so I wouldn’t want to get too carried away, but in an open race, Shine So Bright looks value to lay for a place at Even Money.

  • Lay Shine So Bright for a place @ 2.0 or shorter (2pt liability)