The focus for most punters this week will be on the four-day Yorkshire Ebor Festival, which gets under way on Wednesday. The Juddmonte International on the opening day is shaping up into a cracker, while the clash between Lady Aurelia and Battaash in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes on Friday could be an epic.
Monday’s fare is predictably at a much lower level but the quartet below are all of interest and hopefully will give us a bigger kitty for the more significant races that lie ahead. All prices were correct at 6pm on Sunday.
The Shamardal colt, who will be making his debut, has a couple of Group 1 entries in the autumn and is the most interesting runner of the day.
He is the fifth foal of Dresden, who was a fair sprinter, and is a half-brother to Group 2 winner Prize Money as well as a couple of useful performers between 6f-7f. Saeed Bin Suroor bemoaned the quality of his two-year-olds earlier in the season but, by all accounts, this Godolphin juvenile has plenty of size and scope.
The trainer is 5-13 when sending his horses to Thirsk in the past five seasons and Martin Lane is an impressive 9-17 when riding for him this year.
Bin Suroor’s youngsters usually know what is required at the first time of asking and the early 7-4 available on Sunday afternoon quickly became 5-4, even though the opposition includes That’s A Surprise, a fluent winner on his debut at Beverley, and No I’m Easy, who shaped with plenty of promise behind another Godolphin newcomer at Ascot.
This filly has evidently been something of a slow learner and was unraced at two and three when in the care of the masterful John Gosden.
She is now trained (and part-owned) by Gosden’s Newmarket neighbour Denis Quinn and I fancy she may have got in lightly for her handicap debut off a mark of 72 in this handicap over an extended 1m3f.
Her debut third over a mile at Thirsk behind Afaak (far from disgraced in big handicaps at Royal Ascot and Newmarket off a mark of 92 on his past two starts) and Tribal Quest (an easy winner at Doncaster next time) was most promising and her next effort on softer ground at Newmarket was not without some merit.
Last time she was out of her depth when 100-1 for a Listed race back at Headquarters but this Class 5 contest represents much calmer waters and David Egan, in the running to be this season’s top apprentice, takes 5lb off her back.
Ruth Carr’s gelding is becoming a little expensive to follow - he has not started any bigger than 11-2 for his past six starts and won only once, when 5-4 - but I’m convinced he remains well treated off a mark of 64 and believe it is only a matter of time before he starts to deliver on a more regular basis.
He had been knocking on the door before getting the job done in tidy style over 6f on soft ground at Catterick on his penultimate start and looked like following up over an extra furlong of the track last time on heavy going (touched 1.67 in-running on Betfair) only to run out of puff late on after racing keenly early on.
Many will have left the track that convinced the strong traveller needs dropping back to 6f but Carr is keeping him at 7f and I can see the logic, especially as the ground will not be anywhere so near testing.
Some will be put off by his outside draw but the stats suggest wide runners fare OK at the track, especially when there is some give underfoot.
3.00 Lingfield - Piedita
Sir Mark Prescott is sticking to a tried and tested formulae with Piedita - given a handicap rating based on form over much shorter distances before entering handicap company over much longer distances.
The daughter of Authorized showedvery little in her first three starts, in maiden company over a mile. Then again, little was expected as she went off at 33-1, 66-1 and 150-1.
She then stretched her legs in a maiden over 1m4f, again not offering a lot, but it was a different story when she made her debut in handicap company off a mark of 66 over 2m at Beverley last month.
A 4-1 chance that day, she hit the front a furlong out and stayed on much too strongly for her 11 rivals.
Piedita can make light of her 6lb rise, especially with KingCalypso being among two non-runners this morning. She also has a couple of entries later in the week and do not be surprised if she takes up one of them.
Andy Stephens' Monday tips:
2.15 Thirsk: Al Mustashar at a general 5-4
3.00 Lingfield: Piedita at a general 4-5