York has become something of a spiritual home for me having recently departed the resident university after three glorious years. Regrettably, the Ebor meeting’s summer time slot ensured I had always returned south to Surrey once it had arrived.
This year, I’m actually further north, enjoying some downtime on Loch Ness, but every opportunity to glimpse some of the action on the Knavesmire will be taken if one arrives. Here are my selections for the opening day.
1:55 – GUNMETAL
Dakota Gold seeks a quickfire double having won the Great St Wilfrid handicap at Ripon at the weekend. He thus carries a 5lb penalty so is worth passing over espite being on the upgrade. The grey Gunmetal appeals as he is 8lb better off with the veteran Duke Of Firenze for their clash here in May. The latter came out on top that day and might be well treated for this, though Gunmetal was beaten less than 2 lengths in fourth. The extra half furlong will be in his favour and he gave 6lb and a beating to the aforementioned favourite this time last year; he is in receipt of weight tomorrow. The other 10-year-old Caspian Prince is another to keep an eye on.
3:35 – CRYSTAL OCEAN or ELARQAM w/o favourite
Crystal Ocean has always had talent, but he has developed into a top-class performer this year. Over any middle distance trip, he has the measure of the three-year-olds in this line-up and any odds against price should be snapped up. King of Comedy is the most progressive of the Classic group, but as they have proven below par to date, Elarqam may be a good bet without the favourite after he scored in serene style in the York Stakes at Group Two level at the end of July. He is finally realising some of the potential which saw him talked of in regal esteem last year and is around 11/2 to be best of the rest – his course form and the fact he’s evidently still improving entitle him to significant respect on this front.
4:15 – MAKAWEE
At the time of writing there are four co-favourites which accurately reflects that all 17 have chances on some level. Makawee appeals as a result by having more to offer than most. Her recent seconds have both been over course and distance on opposing ground types while carrying more weight and need not be a concern as she’s returned to the winners enclosure multiple times already this season. This is a slight step up in class, but she carries only nine stone as a result and with the rest my fancies stalling on dubious recent performances or course records, she gets the nod to perform up to scratch once again with Danny Tudhope having a tremendous season and not poised to slow down soon.