Kings Gift has got a massive chance at York

By Paul Mulrennan
Fri 14 Jul 2017

I’m very hopeful that Kings Gift will get my day off to a great start at York in the John Smith's Racing Handicap.

He has been highly-tried this season, having finished fourth in the Greenham and ninth in both the French 2,000 Guineas and Hampton Court Stakes last month.

He ran better than that last run at Royal Ascot suggests as he didn’t get a clear passage and would have finished closer.

He’s now dropping down into handicap company, he’s drawn well in six and the track will suit him. He’s got a massive chance.

Nakeeta ran a big race when I rode him over course and distance on his penultimate start. He was second in a very similar standard of race to this one, the John Smith's Silver Cup Stakes, and always runs his race in these staying tests. He’s a smart horse on his day.

Dark Red is declared to run in the big race in the north on Saturday and what is one of the highlights of the season at York, the 58th John Smith's Cup Handicap.

I say declared as I don’t think he will run unless there is rain at York. He’s a horse I know Ed Dunlop likes and he’s snuck into the race at the bottom of the handicap but, as I say, he needs that give to be seen at his best.

Final Venture has been a great flagbearer for Paul Midgley, winning at Meydan and finishing fourth in the Temple Stakes and then winning back at Haydock in a Listed race in June. He wasn’t beaten too far in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot and was then fifth in the Chipchase.

This drop back down to Listed company will be in his favour and he is an obvious leading player in the John Smith's City Walls Stakes.

Edge Of Sanity has his first run for 801 days in the John Smith's Stayers' Handicap. I rode him to win at the Ebor meeting in 2014 and he’s since joined Iain Jardine and been gelded. That absence and those change of circumstances makes it very difficult to predict how he will run.

My second best chance of the day, after Kings Gift, lies with John Kirkup in the John Smith's Nursery Handicap.

He’s done nothing but improve this season, building on a promising debut to win his last two runs and this step up to six furlongs will bring out further improvement.

Looking back at the last week, Rumshak was a very impressive winner for me at Carlisle. He was a cheap purchase by Michael Dods and his winning time was faster than that of the three-year-old handicap that day. He looks very useful indeed.

Finally, I couldn't believe the front page of the Racing Post last week, which was calling for the ban of the whip.

The whips these days are air-cushioned, jockeys are educated in how to use the whip like never before, there are less whip bans, and it's a non-issue.

Jockeys care for horses and if we thought we were hurting them we wouldn't be in this game. And I don't get the perception argument either - I haven't heard people talking about the effects of the whip at race meetings.

There must be more important issues to debate than this one.

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