Channel 4 Racing Tips: Lady looks the part for Musidora glory

The ground is a concern at York

It's day one of the Dante with the finest three-year-old fillies taking centre stage in the Musidora, and our big-race big-price guru Tony Calvin has a double figure fancy for the feature race

"Lady Heidi rates a fair bet at odds of 11.010/1 to see off fillies like Cambridge, very much the gossip horse in here and second favourite for the Oaks after just a maiden, and Shama from the top yards, who are far shorter in the betting having achieved less and are unproven on soft ground."

Back Lady Heidi @ 11.010/1 in the 14:45 at York  

Drying ground is often the bookmakers' friend, and that promises to be the case at York this week, with a horrible spell of wet weather that has turned the ground soft giving way to a mainly sunny forecast from tomorrow onwards.
 
So while it is good news for the lasses who like go to minimal on the dress front, and the lads who love giving it the max on the champagne bar lawns - York offers the best-value racecourse fizz in the country, so the men can look flash for not much cash - a sticky and cloying surface can often to lead some strange results.
 
And I don't just mean in York's bars and clubs, either.
 
So how the ground rides is a concern for me, and that is before we factor in what the draw will do, and possible pace biases etc.
 
But you have to plough on regardless, and assume that the Knavesmire will ride genuinely soft on the first day and that leads me to side with Lady Heidi in the Musidora at 14:45.
  
There is always a touch of "damning with faint praise" when you call someone an up-and-coming trainer in horseracing. That often means that while are they are not household names, everyone in the sport already knows how good they are.
 
And this is pretty much true of Philip Kirby, who has done a great job of improving horses from other yards in the past two years or so, with the likes of Platinum, Just Paul and Dr Irv, and at a pretty impressive strike rate too, given his general level of horses.
 
But in Lady Heidi he has a filly who he has had since the start of her career, and is capable of putting him on the big stage on Wednesday afternoon. And she does go into the race as the highest-rated horse.
 
She was a slow-learner at two before improving the best part of two stone to beat the colts point blank in a listed race in heavy ground at Pontefract on her third start.
 
Now, to judge from her price, a lot of layers are tempted to treat that form with scepticism. And they may be right.
 
But if you take a more positive view, than she should be nearer a 5-1 chance here, than a 10-1 poke. The 2¾ length runner-up that day was only beaten ½ length in the UAE 2,000 Derby Trial in January, and the fourth home Bow Creek was only collared close home by Kingfisher in the Dee Stakes on similar ground at Chester last week.
 
The form of the Kirby yard is a slight concern but you can bet that he has left no stone unturned with his stable star, who we know will relish the ground - sorry, ladies, I hope the forecast is wrong and it rains all through Wednesday - and her breeding and finishing effort at Pontefract strongly suggests that she will relish the step up in trip.
 
She rates a fair bet at odds of 11.010/1 to see off fillies like Cambridge, very much the gossip horse in here and second favourite for the Oaks after just a maiden, and Shama from the top yards, who are far shorter in the betting having achieved less and are unproven on soft ground. 
  
The Duke Of York Stakes at 15:15 features several in-form sprinters who relish testing ground, and finding a betting angle has proven beyond me. 
 
For sheer consistency alone, Jack Dexter will be hard to kick out of the frame, as his record on soft ground or worse reads 111111213. Pretty damn impressive figures I am sure you will agree, even more so considering the second was a narrow near-miss behind Slade Power in a Group 2 at Ascot last October, the pair clear. 
 
And if you fancy him, then he is a strong-traveller who you can protect your stake by putting in an in-running lay- indeed he traded at 1.11/10 at Ascot.
 
But he did run below expectations on his reappearance, connections are concerned about the draw and there is a lot of depth in this sprint.
 
Clever Cookie is a very interesting contender in the opener at 13:45 and is worth supporting at odds of 9.08/1 or better.
 
He was a very progressive hurdler earlier in the year and translated that ability to the Flat when winning a 1m4f soft ground Doncaster maiden on the Flat last month.
 
The merit of that win is hard to gauge, as the runner-up was having only his second start, having finished second in a Chantilly maiden two years previously. But Clever Cookie did it well in his familiar strong-travelling-then-pounce style, and they did pull seven lengths clear of a fair maiden in third.
 
So a mark of 88 is probably fair enough, and there could well be a lot more to come from him.
 
I will have a small saver on King's Warrior though at a much bigger price. He dotted up in the John Smith's Cup here two years ago and returned from a pretty average spell hurdling to run a promising sixth at Epsom last time.
 
I couldn't find out when Tom George last saddled a Flat winner - or if he ever has, and I admittedly didn't try very hard - but the handicapper has at least given him a chance by dropping King's Warrior 2lb since Epsom and George saddled a couple of big winners at Punchestown recently. At odds of 23.022/1, he is getting a fiver of my money.
 
Jamaican Bolt looks pretty solid in the 14:15 but my one worry is whether he fully sees out a fast-run 6f. So I am going to pass him over in favour of Aetna.
 
She has to be forgiven a poor run on good ground at Beverley last time, when her jockey reported that she ran flat. But hopefully a break and a return to a softer surface, over which she was pretty impressive over 5f at Newcastle on her reappearance, will see her bounce back to form.
 
She wasn't stopping at Newcastle, and the step up to 6f could bring about further improvement; after all, she won over 7f in the soft on her debut. Let's hope that she can follow in footsteps of Hoof It, who won this race for Mick Easterby as a 4yo in 2011, and she is worth backing at 15.014/1 or better to do so.


Recommended Bets
Back Clever Cookie @ 9.08/1 or better  and King's Warrior @ 23.022/1 or better in the 13:45 at York 
Back Aetna @ 15.014/1 or better in the 14:15 at York 
Back Lady Heidi @ 11.010/1 in the 14:45 at York

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