York Insights – Stand Firm - Cliff Horse Approaching!

8 min

Firmament backers have been crying into their beer for precisely two years – now it’s time for champagne, says @helynsar

1:55 Sky Bet Lowther Stakes

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I’m pretty certain that Fairyland is the best filly in this race, but backing her is complicated by the fact that many of Aidan O’Brien’s horses have been underperforming to varying degrees. That fact may see her underbet, though, especially with the form of her Marble Hill Stakes open to different interpretations.

Mine is that it was a very good effort for the grade, and should be judged by the better efforts of the pair she beat rather than their occasional poor runs.

Van Beethoven won the Railway Stakes before flopping at Newmarket, and Land Force won the Richmond Stakes after a good third in the Norfolk. Those runs, and that of Gee Rex in the Coventry show the potential that Fairyland has, and she ran a cracker herself when ahead of Angel’s Hideaway in the Albany, which has itself proven excellent form with Pretty Pollyanna (fifth) looking the best of her generation at this stage.

We are taking a chance that Fairyland will be on song, but the market is already taking account of the stable’s current issues, and if O’Brien was in proven form, she would undoubtedly be clear favourite for this, perhaps even a shade of odds-on. The other factor to consider is that Angel’s Hideaway has twice shown a marked tendency to hang right, and that could be a big negative given that she is drawn on the outside of the field in stall 9.

It may be a help to race under the rail, as it looked at times yesterday, but I think the others will stick to the centre of the track, and the favourite could very easily find herself isolated.

  • Back Fairyland @ 3.15 or bigger (2pts)

2:25 Goffs UK Premier Yearling Stakes

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A low draw is often favoured in handicaps over this trip, but not only was that not the case in the opener yesterday (albeit at 130yds shorter), but it hasn’t often been the case in this race. Between 2008 and 2015, the winner came from stall 13 or higher, and while I would be wary of that given the last two winners have been drawn low, the way jockeys wanted to avoid the inside yesterday suggests that the field will come centre to stands side once more, and that should see the bias swing in that direction again.

The one who makes by far the most appeal to my eye is impressive Windsor winner Masaru, who defied inexperience to win by a wide margin and in a fast time at the Thames-side venue. Some will argue that he was flattered by getting a run on the rail, but he had to switch more than once to get that run, and I was impressed with how straight he ran when in the clear, especially in relation to others in the race who tended to drift towards the centre, as so many do at Windsor in a finish. I’m a believer that a horse who can keep perfectly straight when quickening clear is worthy of extra praise, as it speaks well both of their conformation and attitude.

Masaru looked a very good prospect indeed on debut, and looks sure to improve again, which may give him the edge over the classy but exposed Kodyanna and stablemate He’zanarab.

  • Back Masaru to win @ 5.5 or bigger (1pt)
  • Back Masaru to place @ 2.5 or bigger (2pts)

3:00 Clipper Logistics Handicap

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I’ve been waiting what seems like forever for a race in which Firmament gets the rub of the green, and I think I’ve found it here.

David O’Meara’s classy handicapper is best in a big-field scenario, but has constantly found himself the victim of circumstance either in terms of pace, draw or positioning in some of the top handicaps in the last year or so. He does a lot of his racing at Ascot, but is at least as effective here, boasting a track record which reads 123, and there is a chance that if the field moves middle to stands side into the straight that he will for once have plenty of room to launch a sustained challenge from his draw in stall 1. He has become very well handicapped due to his losing run, and while he can’t be followed blindly, I think this represents by far his best chance in the last year or so.

It should be remembered that he ran twice here last season in handicaps, and was placed both times, including behind Flaming Spear in this race, from a mark of 109. Despite appearing to retain all that ability, he is now rated 98, which is just 2lb higher when gaining his most recent win, in this very race, two years ago. He can roar back to form now and give his long-suffering backers something to cheer about at last.

  • Back Firmament to win @ 6.4 or bigger (3pts)