It is not often you see the prospective winners of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and St Leger run within about half an hour of each other on the same card but that was the case at York on Thursday.
Sea Of Class was just that as she again breezed from last to first in the Yorkshire Oaks and the 5-1 quoted against her for the Arc makes plenty of each-way appeal, especially given the outstanding record of three-year-old fillies in the race.
It is hard to see her finishing outside the first three and there has to be a good chance she will hit the jackpot, unless Enable bounces back with a bang at Kempton next month or Cracksman recovers his swagger.
Lah Ti Dar was tremendously impressive when routing her rivals in the Galtres Stakes over the same course and distance in the following race. She recorded a time 0.78 seconds slower than Sea Of Class but had 4lb more on her back and was having her first run for more than three months.
She devoured the ground in the closing stages and the daughter of Dubawi has clearly inherited plenty of stamina from Dar Re Mi, who was better at a mile and a half than shorter and would have almost certainly stayed farther had she been asked.
With the exception of Kew Gardens, the St Leger lacks depth and the 4-1 available for her in the final Classic of the season looks massive.
Saturday is trappy and I’m going to mostly be playing each-way, starting with:
Threading was disappointing at Goodwood last time when heavily supported and was also below-par at Newmarket before that but Mark Johnston’s horses have a habit of quickly bouncing back and that, plus her track form, makes her interesting at the general 8-1 on offer.
She won the Lowther at the Ebor meeting last year and was impressive back at York in May when romping home by seven lengths in Listed company. Back in that kind of form she will, at the very least, be hard to keep out of the first three.
Lord Glitters, the favourite, would not be winning out of turn but he is up in trip by almost a furlong and I’m not sure York is going to suit his hold-up style.
Mustashry, who seeks back-to-back wins in the race, rates a bigger threat but the 11-4 available about him looks about right.
Beat The Bank has an outstanding chance on form, even if you disregard his close fifth in a muddling Sussex Stakes last time.
He is officially rated at least 5lb superior to each of his rivals and the only surprise is that he is not shorter than the 11-8 on offer.
Altyn Orda, quoted at 6-1, looks the obvious one to chase him home.
She was no match for Alpha Centauri in the Falmouth Stakes last time but she beat the rest well enough and her fifth in the 1,000 Guineas was also a solid spin.
So Beloved boasts a poor wins-to-runs ratio and is not the kind of horse who you would invest your last fiver on but he’s got some cracking course form and, if everything falls right, is capable of winning a race of this nature.
On official ratings, only Expert Eye, the favourite, and Suedois, his stablemate, are rated superior but that is not reflected by the betting.
So Beloved was runner-up in this race two years ago, and 12 months ago was a staying-on fifth of 18 (beaten a length and a half) when compromised by a slow start.
Several of his efforts this year need marking up, for a variety of reasons, and I like the fact he is reunited with Phil Makin, a short head away from being two wins from three starts when riding him at York.
Stratum has sneaked into the Ebor near the foot of the weights and looks the most likely winner - an 8lb rise for his emphatic win at Newbury last time merely reflecting what he achieved that day but not allowing for more improvement.
However, his chance is reflected by his price of about 7-2 and with sponsors Sky Bet offering seven places I would rather roll the dice and have an each-way punt on Muntahaa at 16-1.
He has never quite hit the heights that seemed likely - he went off 4-1 for the St Leger two years ago - but there has been merit in each of his three runs this term at a higher level, after being gelded, and this will be the first handicap he has contested since scoring over an extended 1m5f at Chester a couple of years ago.
Muntahaa is only 1lb higher on Saturday and I think he’s been crying out for the return to farther. Jim Crowley will have no option but to drop him in and ride him for luck from his high draw but that might just suit.
Andy Stephens' How To Bet Your £20 on Saturday:
1.50 York: Threading £2 each-way at a general 8-1
2.05 Goodwood: £4 Exacta - Beat The Bank to beat Altyn Orda
3.00 York: So Beloved £2 each-way at a general 12-1
3.40 York: Muntahaa £4 each-way at 16-1 with Sky Bet, who are paying seven places
OPTION TWO: ANTE-POST
£10 win on Lah Ti Dar to win the St Leger at 4-1 with Coral
£3 each way on Sea Of Class for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at a general 5-1
£2 each-way double on the above pair