I spent some time having a good look at the Darley July Cup but with a number of horses boasting similar speed figures making a firm conclusion involved too much guess work.
Instead, I am keen on backing Master Carpenter each-way at a general 20-1 in the 58th John Smith’s Cup at York on Saturday. Here is my reasoning:
I believe Master Carpenter is a York specialist. He is two out of two at the track, which includes victory in the 2015 renewal of this race. Not every horse handles York, but it seems to really suit him and importantly not only is he back at his favourite track but he is also back at his best trip of ten furlongs.
He was good winner in a fast time at York two starts ago. Ridden patiently by Philip Makin, who knows him well, he travelled strongly and quickened clear to win readily. He then went to Royal Ascot for the Duke of Edinburgh, where he was unfortunate to encounter a wide trip and a distance of 12 furlongs which definitely stretches him. Despite that wide trip, he was still in touch two furlongs out before dropping away in the final furlong. This run showed him to still be in excellent form. This has been echoed by his trainer Rod Millman who said "He didn't have the best of runs, but didn't stay." There is also a possibility that he bounced a bit out of his big effort at York where his Timeform speed figure (112) showed that he was forced to run fast and hard. All in all Ascot can easily be forgiven and that being the case we have a course specialist to go to war with.
His overall profile this year is excellent despite three poor finishing positions. On his seasonal reappearance at Doncaster he ran in the Lincoln over a trip short of his best after a six-month lay-off. His next run was at Newbury where again he raced over an inadequate mile, had a poor draw and could get no cover. He then won at York, as detailed above, and then failed to stay at Ascot over 12 furlongs getting a poor trip. I think this profile is of a horse who is as good as ever and may have an even bigger performance in him.
His win at York two starts ago came off a generous looking mark of 95. His current price of 20-1 may in part be due to his new mark of 105. This rise in the weights does not worry me though because in 2015 he was able to win this race off 104 and there is no evidence that he is a slower horse now. In fact, he might be better.
He is best suited by big fields where there is plenty of pace and he can be ridden patiently. He is sure to get a strong gallop in this competitive heat and Makin, who has won twice on him at York, knows how to get the best out of him. There are plenty of sexier types in the field but this horse’s track record and recent profile makes him the one to be on.
Angus McNae’s Something For The Weekend:
Master Carpenter - a general 20-1 for the John Smith’s Cup at York on Saturday