Symbol can earn Group 1 status

York selections Friday 20th August

Day Three at York and the Nunthorpe Stakes is today’s highlight. This looks a particularly intriguing affair and the track record of Battaash in this race from 2019 could be under threat. I have a selection for the feature, plus choices from two handicaps on the card. Magical Morning was second for the each-way bet yesterday (12/1).

York 1.50: Dark Jedi

I must admit this is very much Plan B for me in this race, as my two original selections have both been taken out overnight. Therefore I will switch to one who should be guaranteed to run his usual honourable race in DARK JEDI.

Tim Easterby’s horses have been in great form all summer – and particularly at this meeting and Dark Jedi was second in this same race in 2020. He was also fourth in the John Smiths Cup at this track and went on to two more fine second placings in the autumn last year at Haydock and Pontefract.

His consistency has continued this season, where he has thrown in just the one sub-par run – perhaps the outing at Haydock coming too soon after his seasonal return at Windsor. Business as usual has been resumed since though with a last to first win at Ripon and then a good third over 14f at Musselburgh, which might have just over tapped his stamina reserves. The truly run 12f here will definitely suit.

York 3.35: Dragon Symbol

Considering we did not see DRAGON SYMBOL on a racetrack until March, trainer Archie Watson has packed a lot into this 3yo’s career already including passing the post first in a Group 1 at Royal Ascot, only for him to lose the race (rightly) in the stewards room.

That effort though proved his quality and in chasing home Starman in the July Cup at Newmarket he proved his ability to handle fast conditions as well. Whilst he was well beaten by Suesa at Goodwood, he did not make the best of starts out of the stalls that day and he found it too difficult to make up the ground on the downland track.

He might ultimately prove at his very best over 6f, but this race just might set up perfectly for him. He is drawn two which seems to be the right place to be on the sprint track. Even more so when favourite and almost guaranteed pacesetter Golden Pal is drawn next door. I suspect the American challenger could scupper Winter Power’s attempts to make all herself, but perhaps the race could end up playing into the hands of a closer such as Dragon Symbol.

York 5.10: Rifleman & Dejame Paso

A quality finale to Friday’s card with any number of 3yo’s here having the potential to fight their way through handicaps into pattern company in the months to come. I have two choices in a wide open race.

RIFLEMAN is a right old maverick, but undoubtedly has talent and a competitive field such as this might bring out the best in him. A winner of a Kempton novice last winter, he has run well in three handicaps in 2021. However on the first occasion he bucked off Ryan Moore in the closing stages at Sandown. He then hung his chances away here in the final furlong when looking the likely winner. What he did show at Newmarket last time was a high cruising speed, something that he can use to good effect here, and it took a former Group 1 winner in Accidental Agent to beat him that day. Moore will be ready for Rifleman’s quirks here, and being delivered for a late run could work in a race of this type.

DEJAME PASO has made good progress all summer and can make light of a drop back in trip. He has won back to back 9f handicaps on fast ground here and at Sandown, but already has a win to his name at a mile and ran well to be third in the spring at Ascot in a similar level contest over this trip. He remains at the right end of the handicap and has the early pace not to get behind before that proven stamina comes into play in the closing stages.

Recommended bets:

1pt each-way – Dark Jedi – 1.50 York – 9/1 Bet365

1pt each-way – Dragon Symbol – 3.35 York – 5/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds 1st 4)

1pt each-way – Rifleman – 5.10 York – 11/1 Bet365, Paddy Power

1pt each-way – Dejame Paso – 5.10 York – 17/2 William Hill (1/5 odds 1st 5)

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