It wasn’t a great week, but we maintain high spirits as we build our Ebor week pot today. And there are some competitive races on offer across the country. The Hungerford and Geoffrey Freer are two challenging group races, we visit Ripon for the Great St. Wilfrid Handicap and a couple of juveniles takes the eye over in Ireland to make up our Four to Follow this week.
Half and Half Alike
1:50 – BetVictor Geoffrey Freer Stakes (Group Three) – Klondike @ 4/1 (General)
It’s a little known fact that Klondike and Kemari are half-siblings, out of the same mare Koora. And I’ve settled with the latter for this contest. Only three runs to his name he won on his debut here and then has ran into quality horses on his next two starts.
The firm ground could be an amicable excuse for his run in the Bahrain Trophy, and has it good-to-soft today. He’s rather unexposed, stepping into open company for the first time and recives a big weight allowance for the in-form William Haggas and Tom Marqaund combination.
Maarbye he’ll Chin’em
3:35 – BetVictor Hungerford Stakes (Group Two) – Chindit @ 11/4 (General)
Last year Chindit produced a rare performance over his favourite Newbury straight track. But this year he has shown his quality and, dare I say, Group One ability. Second in the Lockinge was his career-best performance, and his run at Ascot wasn’t that bad when he weakened up the hill. Dropping down in distance is a positive, having won the Greenham over C&D, and he won’t mind the ground either, unlike some in the field.
Marbaan shouldn’t be discounted in this race. He ran a great race into third, when Kinross and Isaac Shelby went far clear in the Lennox. He’s been racing over six furlongs, and it hasn’t suited him at all, and the step up to seven will be much better. And without the two top class performers over the unique distance, he has room to progress and run a big race at 8/1 (General)
Windy St. Wilfrid
3:15 – William Hill Great St. Wilfrid H’cap – Bay Breeze @ 14/1 (BetUK)
This is one of the best handicaps in season. It’s at one of my favorutie courses, Ripon, and has the best name (Just who was Wilfrid?). And it’s a Northern race, won by Northern trainers. The last Southerner to win this race was Henry Candy in 2009 with Markab. And Tim Easterby has won this race three times, notably with Staxton in 2020 for favourite backers.
The ground will be on the softer side of good, so winners usually come down the far side rail. Bay Breeze is drawn in five, and comes off the back of a narrow win over C&D and similar ground. His record at Ripon is phenomenal; six runs, four wins, one place. That record, and the trainer, and his recent run, should put him up there.
Another Ripon returnee is Twelfth Knight, making his stable debut for Paul Midgley. He’s been moved from Ruth Carr’s stable, and has performed very well for her this season. His record at Ripon is two wins (both on soft ground), two seconds and two thirds. He finished behind Bay Breeze, but only by a half-a-length in a bunch finish. Drawn in stall nine, he’s nearer to the centre, but can still have the advantage if he breaks well. 16/1 (William Hill, BetVictor) is a great each-way price.
One more for the big handicap just takes time. It Just Takes Time, looks like he doesn’t have the right draw, but he’s on the right handicap with Jonny Peate claiming three pounds. He’s ground versatile, but he might in too high a class. That aside, he has things in his favour to give him a squeak at 16/1 (William Hill, BetVictor)
Snell Snell Snell
4:00 – Debutante Stakes (Group Two) – Snellen @ 4/1 (BetVictor)
A Royal Ascot winner, and unbeaten. There’s not much that Snellen has done wrong this season. She managed to hold off Pearls And Rubies in the Chesham and has been given a break by Gavin Cromwell. The one thing that may let her down is the ground, given that she’s won both her races on good-to-firm. But she’s out Illumined who handled the soft very well, and it doesn’t discount Snellen getting it too.
But I think that Dollerina is the wrong price. She finished second to Ylang Ylang on debut, and the form from that race is one to keep an eye on. Three winners and two places next time out from the twelve runners can’t be looked past. She’s by Terretories, who handled soft ground and should be backed in from 8/1 (BetVictor, Unibet, Boylesports)
The very best of luck!