Ante Post Tips: Back two handicap picks for York at 16/1 and 33/1

Big Rock
Big Rock is one of the market leaders for Saturday's Lockinge at Newbury

Alan Dudman stands in for Tony Calvin on ante-post duty and previews the week ahead with York and Newbury...

  • Dante on Thursday with a new Derby player?

  • Two Handicaps at York on Thursday appeal

  • Alan Dudman has three bets at York this week

York and Newbury lights up a stellar week

For those hoping we'll get summer ground for this weekend looking to the Lockinge, a quick glance at the weather forecast is hardly uplifting as there is rain for nearly every day this week so it would be folly to pick a horse who wants it quick in Berkshire for Saturday. Folly too with the clerks again going to town with the watering can at Chester last week.

That's more in the future with Saturday's big race priced up on the Sportsbook, but York takes centre-stage for this week and 10 of the races are priced up ante-post and Tony Calvin will be previewing all those with his in-depth look with pace maps and trainer form, plus headgear stats - something I find invaluable.

Dante Stakes - Thursday 15:45 York: No Bet

At the time of writing on Monday, York's ground was good to firm with good in places but we are dealing again with the possibility of rain forecast this week and I have to be looking at horses with form in such.

The Dante Stakes also has the chance to throw up something that could make a big move in the Derby betting (please no more Epsom Derby references) as City Of Troy is one of the joint-favourites in the Derby Ante-Post Sportsbook market at 7/24.50 with Arabian Crown - it does look a race there for the taking this year.

Ancient Wisdom for Charlie Appleby looks to have the tools to lay down a marker, so it's no surprise to see him as the Dante favourite at 5/61.84 and 8/19.00 for the Derby, and a good performance on Thursday on the Knavesmire will see him halve in price and more I am sure.

Soft conditions look fine, in fact more than fine given he won the Futurity in heavy at the back-end of the season at Doncaster with a strong display.

He will stay further, and you'd like to think he will with a price tag of 2,000,000 as a yearling. He looks to have a soft ground action and won fresh in blistering fashion on his debut last term. He's an exciting prospect and compared to the second favourite for the Dante in Caviar Heights 4/15.00, it's probably not a betting race.

I'd rather back him at 8s for the Derby.

Thursday - 14:15 York: Back Manilla Scouse E/W

Two of the handicaps at York on Thursday are certainly ones to play from an each-way angle in keeping with the column's remit with the 14:15 Lindum York Handicap over 5f and the 14:45 Hambleton over 1m.

We'll start with the sprinters in the Lindum, and with 26 runners entered at the time of writing on Monday, the Sportsbook go 4/15.00 to the field.

Equilateral at 8/19.00 initially caught my eye as he won a big handicap at York last summer, and he's more of a Group horse with a superb record when running in handicaps, but dare I say a fast ground horse. That has to be a worry in terms of playing him ante-post.

There are some old favourites in here too, with the likes of Manilla Scouse who I backed at Chester last week and I wouldn't totally give up on him in one of these big handicaps. Perhaps the ground was a bit too quick at Chester (officially good), but he has enough form in soft to suggest the rain will suit him.

I think at 16/117.00 he looks worth an each-way bet and his trainer Tim Easterby has won this race a couple of times with Copper Knight - who finished ahead of Manilla Scouse at Chester in second, and he's also a 16/117.00 shot on the ante-post book.

Thursday - 14:45 York: Back La Trinidad E/W

A similar sort of market for the Hambleton Handicap awaits on Thursday in the following 14:45 with Godwinson in as the favourite at 4/15.00.

Twenty-seven were entered on Monday for a maximum field of 20 and we have four places once again to go each-way.

La Trinidad was priced at 33/134.00, and that surely is too big?

He's been in some good races at the track in his time and has been priced-up as a horse who doesn't have much form. However, he had a fairly consistent 2023 and absolutely bolted up at Doncaster last season and he often impresses with the way he travels.

The 7yo is off 93 and Jonny Peate can claim 3lb from his back and he was booked on Monday. While he was winless at York last term, he wasn't beaten far in tough races behind Blue For You and Ropey Guest last summer. He missed the break in one of those in fifth, but he's the sort of horse with the way he travels that is suited to the nature of the track.

He was beaten 6L on his return in the Hunt Cup at Thirsk last time out and that should put him spot on here for a good run and he seems to act with a bit of cut (although goes well to on fast ground).

York - 14:45 Friday: Back Reach

The Knights Solicitors Handicap 1m2f on the Friday is another to pick out each-way with Penzance and La Yakel both as top weights off 100 at the entries stage.

La Yakel was priced at 7/24.50 on Monday and he's certainly one that desires some cut in the ground. He won easily at Doncaster last season in a race that didn't look the strongest for the 0-105 level but he was beaten at York on his final start of 2023 off 99, and he was also turned over at short prices in two runs prior to his Donny win.

Plus, these handicappers for William Haggas often go off a little shorter than they should.

Reach at 10/111.00 is an interesting runner for Mick Easterby and Jo Mason, and Mason has been proving of late he tactically astute she is and is one of the riders of the north for me. She gave Gustav Graves a couple of decent rides over the winter and deserves more opportunities.

She proved well ahead of her mark last term with a couple of handicap wins, and while she didn't beat much at Nottingham, she scored over C&D on the Knavesmire off 82 last August.

A break of 266 days means this will be her first run of the season, but she scored well over 1m4f at Pontefract on good to soft and she often travels well with a turn of foot.

It's worth mentioning a fine piece of business too from the owners, who picked her up for just 1,500 guineas as a daughter of Sea The Stars - who still rules the waves.

I am happy with her at double figures as he is still progressive.

Newbury Saturday 15:35 Lockinge Stakes - No Bet

Eleven are in at the Monday stage and John and Thady Gosden hold the ace card with Inspiral - who tops the Sportsbook market at 15/82.88.

The 5yo mare has form on good to soft but I doubt she'd want it more testing than that for her first run of the season, and this is "take two" for the Lockinge as she missed this race 12 months ago due to a muscle problem.

A convincing winner of the Sun Chariot last term on genuine fast ground, she has the highest rating in the field at 120. However, I don't think the Gosdens are in rip-roaring form and she was beaten (albeit in the Queen Anne) on her reappearance last term.

Big Rock is not far away at 2/13.00 and it's the first look on these shores since the horse was taken away from Christopher Head and sent to new trainer Maurizio Guarnieri. A move that brought back memories of the Wildenstein swticheroos. That Group 1 at Ascot wasn't enough!

The 4yo was a brilliant 6L winner of the QEII on Champions Day last term with scintilating display from the front. He is one who will appreciate the rain, rain and more rain as he has form on genuine heavy.

At this stage out of the pair, it would have to be Big Rock over Inspiral, but putting up a 2s shot for an ante-post column is not part of the remit.

Poker Face at 7/18.00 was an improver last year and took his rating up about 8lbs. He won a Listed race at Pontefract, and I doubt the owners of Big Rock will be quaking in their boots with that.

He is fit, though, and finished second to Charyn with the first-time headgear on in the Bet365 Mile at Sandown. Key to his chances will be softer going, as he is usually kept away from quick, but do I really fancy him at 7/18.00 to win at the top level? No.

Charyn comes from Sandown too and at 9/25.50 but neither are each-way possibles for me as Charyn is a little too short and I don't see Poker Face in the shake-up.

It will be interesting to see what sort of shape Royal Scotsman is in - a high-class 2yo who finished third in the 2,000 Guineas last term but disappointed badly in two runs afterwards at the top level and hasn't been seen since Royal Ascot last summer.

When he scored at Goodwood as a 2yo, Oliver Cole mentioned he likes some cut in the ground. But he's a handful as a horse who needs a bit of finesse.

On his 2yo form he shouldn't be 12/113.00, as he broke the track record at Goodwood and also ran in the second-fastest Dewhurst with Cole waxing lyrical about his sectionals.

Can we trust him though to put up as a bet considering he went backwards after his Guineas defeat?

With the way the market is at the moment I do see him as the one that could shorten in the betting.

Elsewhere, the Newbury ITV races begin at 13:50 with Hamish likely to be popular if it rains for the Group 3 Aston Park Stakes.

If you know Hamish is running, or at least entered, there's a chance for soft.

I'd be interested in Bolster for this as he was a recent non-runner at Chester on account of the ground, so he does look a horse who needs a bit of cut.

I was impressed with him at Pontefract when winning a handicap last time off 97, and he's up in class now taking on a higher calibre of rival. But he's lightly-raced and 1-1 for his new yard Karl Burke and looks well worth a crack at 1m4f judged on Ponty. I'll be keeping an eye on the Sportsbook when priced up as I think he might be a price for Saturday.

Good luck for the week ahead and TC will be on duty with the ITV previews.

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