14:15 Sandown (7f Group 3)
Some classy horses have won the Solario Stakes in the past but this year’s field lacks quality at this particular juncture. We’re really looking for something to emerge here and stamp their authority over the race and that might just be Dream Destination.
The Sylvester Kirk trained two year old began his career at Windsor at the end of last month where he finished second in a maiden. The horse that beat him that day was priced at odds of 30/100 and much more experienced than Dream Destination so there was no shame at all in defeat. From Windsor it was off to Sandown for another maiden and this time nothing could get their head in front of him. The margin of victory was 1 and ¾ lengths but it could have been more as the race notes point out (“pushed clear, readily”). Dream Destination should go off a big price and is definitely worth chancing. We know he loves Sandown and his run at Windsor was on good to soft going, exactly the kind of conditions he’ll face here.
15:10 York (6f Group 2)
The Gimcrack Stakes is another two year old contest but this one looks a lot classier than the Solario with established 2015 stars lining up. In fact a couple of these taking part have been the poster boys for the two year old generation at some point this season. King Of Rooks sat top of the pile after his stunning Sandown success in May but his crown was knocked off at Royal Ascot in June. At the same meeting the Mark Johnstone trained Buratino was an impressive two length winner of the Coventry Stakes and was immediately installed as 2016 2000 Guineas winner. Sadly for Buratino fans though he was also knocked off his perch in a disappointing run in Ireland at the start of this month.
US trainer Wesley Ward has added extra spice to the race by including his Finnegan to the mix. This colt won his maiden by five lengths back in May at Pimlico and could be a real player here. If Acapulco wins on Friday (written before the Nunthorpe) you can imagine Finnegan will get backed in but as he’s currently forecast favourite for the race he has to be swerved with not a single run in the UK to his name.
If we’re looking for new kid on the block to grab the two year old crown then it might just be Ajaya. Trainer William Haggas has been in sensational form so far this week at York and he’ll be confident of another strong effort from this horse. Before he’d even won a race Ajaya turned up at Royal Ascot and finished a creditable seventh in the Norfolk Stakes. Creditable? Seventh? Well yes because he was actually only three lengths behind winner Waterloo Bridge in what was a fiercely competitive contest. Haggas then sent Ajaya to York to get rid of his maiden tag and he duly obliged with a stunning four and half length win at the track. No longer a maiden, it was off to France for the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin and the son of Invincible Spirit ran superbly well to finish second in the contest. Saturday’s race looks hot but perhaps the most progressive of all the runners is Ajaya and with his trainer in red hot form and a course win under his belt he’s the pick here.
15:45 York (1m 6f Handicap)
This looks a fascinating renewal of the Ebor on Saturday. A blend of classy animals at the top of the weights and unexposed types near the bottom mean this is a tricky puzzle to solve. Let’s throw two into the mix.
Fields Of Athenry may just be one the best horses that’s run in this race in recent years. The three year old has just five races under his belt but has already made a great impression. He first came to recognition when finishing second in the Ulster Derby and from there he’s picked up a Listed and Group 3 title at Leopardstown. He’s won on soft and at this trip and receives 3lbs from the top weight. If he is as good as he seems to be then he simply has to win this race.
Asternorous should go off a much bigger price but deserves a lot of respect. He finished third in the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap at Royal Ascot and followed that up with a course and distance win in the John Smith’s Silver Cup last month. Another solid run at Glorious Goodwood followed and it’s very hard to pick holes in Asternorous’ form.
York Best Bets
14:15 Sandown – Dream Destination to Place
15:10 York – Ajaya to Win
15:45 York – Fields Of Athenry to Win
15:45 York – Asternorous to Win