York selections Thursday 18th May
The second day at York and once again the action will be fast and fierce with strong fields throughout the day. I am again concentrating on two handicaps earlier in the card. Lethal Levi went agonisingly close in the sprint yesterday, but we collected on the place part of the each-way (advised 16/1),
York 1.50: Designer
Plenty of these sprinters would prefer some more juice in the ground, but we have finally got a few consecutive dry days in this spring and so we will definitely be getting faster conditions today. DESIGNER is one of those who ideally might prefer a little cut, but should be able to handle faster conditions no problem.
It was dry enough when she won a fillies sprint here at the Ebor meeting over this 5f trip. She has only contested one handicap since, at the back end of 2022 when second at Doncaster on heavy going off the very same mark as today of 97. Clearly therefore she remains competitive off her raised rating.
She has also run with great credit since that York win in two listed contests, finishing fifth at Ascot and then fourth at Bath on her seasonal return. That last run should have put her spot on for today and back in handicap company she can make her presence felt off a decent racing weight with David Egan back on board for the first time since her August win here.
York 3.00: Astro King, Northern Express & Eilean Dubh
I am taking the view here that it will be worth taking on the lightly raced favourite Assessment who has yet to prove he can back up impressive first time out performances. His presence means there is plenty of potential value elsewhere and I am backing three.
First choice would be EILEAN DUBH who is 2-2 at York, both at this mile distance. That second win, off just a 2lb lower mark, turned out to be his final run of 2022 and he has shown distinct signs of rustiness in his three appearances since.
However his last run in the Thirsk Hunt Cup was more promising, being beaten 5l on much softer ground than ideal. He finished 2022 winning on his last three starts over this distance and all were on fast ground. He displayed a really willing attitude under pressure each time and one factor that should help him is that there are a large number of runners here who like to make the running, such as Isla Kai, Master Richard and Point Lynas. They should ensure a decent gallop whilst potentially compromising their own chances.
That pace should help my other two including NORTHERN EXPRESS who won that Thirsk Hunt Cup recently. This horse also has a great record at York winning twice, albeit at 7f. However that Thirsk win suggested he now has the stamina for a mile, at least on a flat track around a bend. He seems to cope with any ground so the drying conditions should also help conserve stamina.
He is traditionally a strong finisher from the back of the field and with this race likely to feature some sort of pace collapse this could set up very nicely for the 5yo who hails from the bang in-form Michael Dods yard that won the Group 2 yesterday.
As a more speculative selection ASTRO KING is of interest having moved from the Stoute team to the smaller Daniel & Clare Kubler yard. This mile specialist remains lightly raced, but has run some crackers on fast ground in the past, notably when second in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot in 2021.
He was also fourth in that race last year before disappointing in two subsequent runs. However there may have been excuses in that the first was a listed race not run to suit and the second was on rain softened ground. All his best form has been on top of the ground and he did win first up in 2021. He has been dropped a couple of pounds in the ratings and at big odds is worth a little saver.
1pt each-way – Designer – 1.50 York – 9/2 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 4)
1pt each-way – Eilean Dubh – 3.00 York – 8/1 Bet365 (1/5 odds 1st 5)
1pt each-way – Northern Express – 3.00 York – 6/1 Bet365 (1/5 odds 1st 5)
0.5pts each-way – Astro King – 3.00 York – 20/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds 1st 6)