York selections Wednesday 18th August
The Ebor meeting at York gets underway today, the first of four days on the Knavesmire and with the return of spectators. Around 19,000 are expected to converge on the track this afternoon. Our traditional opening day feature is the International Stakes, for which I have an each-way pick. However I also like the look of the two big handicaps on the card.
York 1.50: Desert Safari & Mondammej
It usually pays to be drawn in single figures on the sprint track at York, so both my selections for the opening race of the meeting have been drawn centre to far side.
DESERT SAFARI started the summer season in fine fashion with an All Weather win at Kempton, followed by a fast ground turf win at Goodwood – the latter over 5f. For some reason he then lost his way for a while, but rebounded back to form with two good runs at Glorious Goodwood. He was third over 5f on the opening day, before a decent seventh in the Stewards Cup where I think the 6f trip somewhat stretches him. He was just denied in the Shergar Cup Dash at Ascot eleven days ago, but is certainly back in to form now and I don’t think this slightly quicker ground will be a concern for him.
MONDAMMEJ has been a frustrating horse to follow in 2021 but there is no doubt he has a big race in him if he can put it all together. He can compromise his chances with a slow break, but nevertheless ran a cracker here when third over 5f at the Dante meeting. He has since gone on to finish fourth in the Dash at Epsom, second in the Gosforth Park Cup at Newcastle and third in a valuable 5f race at Ascot. He was less effective over 6f here last time, but perhaps this extended 5f might be just what he needs. A winner on rattling ground at Pontefract in the spring, I think this quicker going today will be perfect for him.
York 3.35: Mohaafeth
Despite being beaten in a Group 2 over course and distance last time, MOHAAFETH merits plenty of respect and I am very keen on his chances for the International Stakes.
I am inclined to put his defeat down to an overconfident ride from Jim Crowley last time, making no effort to bring the horse out of last place until quite late on. He then had to make up ground at the hardest time of the race, yet got alongside Bangkok until those exertions took their toll late on. Hopefully Crowley will be more forceful in his tactics today.
Prior to that Mohaafeth had been impressive when scoring at Royal Ascot, and prior to that two wins at Newmarket, all over this 10f trip and on fast going. The ground is key to him as he really bounces off the surface and can quicken up when required. This race could prove tactical with no guaranteed pacesetter, so that turn of speed late could prove crucial. The early signs are that the 3yo middle distance bunch are above average with St Marks Basilica taking the Eclipse and Adayar the King George, so perhaps Mohaafeth can continue that trend.
York 4.10: Bodyline & Arcadian Sunrise
Some old favourites in this 2m handicap, but two of the less exposed flat horses in the field are fancied.
BODYLINE made an encouraging return to the track at Musselburgh last month over 14f. He tried to make all the day, and did not seem to want for stamina, only giving way late on to Wise Eagle. He should be that touch sharper today and warrants a step up to this 2m distance. He likes fast ground and won at Yarmouth in the autumn, responding well to the cheekpieces he again wears today. I think this galloping track with a long straight will suit him well, just as it did at Yarmouth.
ARCADIAN SUNRISE is an obvious contender, coming here off the back of a win in a good hurdle at the Galway Festival. This horse has already done it nearly all in his career at the age of seven, having competed in points, bumpers, hurdles as well as conventional flat races. However this will be just his fifth start under flat rules, the most recent coming when third to Dalton Highway in a competitive contest at the Curragh, his first in handicap company on the flat. He responded well to fast ground that day, just as he did when winning at Galway and it looks significant that trainer John Queally sends him across from Ireland for this race.
1pt each-way – Desert Safari – 1.50 York – 11/1 William Hill (1/5 odds 1st 6)
0.5pts each-way – Mondammej – 1.50 York – 12/1 general (Skybet 1/5 odds 1st 7)
1pt each-way – Mohaafeth – 3.35 York – 13/2 general
1pt each-way – Bodyline – 4.10 York – 17/2 William Hill (1/5 odds 1st 5)
1pt win – Arcadian Sunrise – 4.10 York – 7/2 general